THE APPOINTMENT OF GOVERNORS.
The relations between the Imperial Government and some of the Australian colonies have been rather strained of late, owing to the desire of the latter to have a voice in the appointment of Governors. It will be remembered that Sir Thomas MTlwraitii absolutely demanded that Sir J ohn Pope Hennessey should not be appointed to the Governorship b£ Queensland. His representationswere so far successful that another gentleman was substituted for the obnoxious Sir John. Certain reasons were then assigned for the demand on the one side and its concession on the other, though there are reasons for believing that other causes than those madq public were potent factors in the affair. Since then other colonies, stimulated by the success of Queensland, have set up claims’ to be consulted on such appointments. These claims have brought the matter to a distinct issue ; and Lord Knutsfqud has lately forwarded a general despatch, addressed to “the Governor “of the Australian colonies and New “ Zealand,” which has evidently been prepared for the consideration of the Parliaments of these colonies. This despatch puts the whole case in a nutshell, and logically states the position from the Imperial point of view. At .the outset the successful result of the present system of appointment is not unreasonably insisted upon;— liar Majesty’s Government feel that they are justified in claiming for themselves, as well as for their predecessors, that a remarkable measure of success, both as regards the capacity and character of the. Governors appointed, and as regards the approval 'with which those appointments have been received in the colonies, has attended the sincere eudi'avors which have at all times been made to secure the best possible selection in each case.
Certainly so much must he granted. Credit must be taken for the loyal reception which has always been accorded to Her Majesty’s representatives by the people and Governments of the colonies; and credit is also due, as claimed by the Imperial authorities, for the general fitness of selection that has been evinced. Whence, then, the desire for change 1 We more -than suspect that it is the outcome of a growing feeling of independence on the part pf some colonies; and by this we do not imply a wish for severance. There is a’,vast difference between the two propositions. The colonists, strengthened by many years of ex-, perience, consider that they are quite competent to govern selves ; and if they were united in a federated dominion, like Canada, a single Governor-General might be deemed sufficient for all Imperial purposes. But so long as each colony has a separate and distinct government, so long will it be necessary .to continue the practice of appointing Governors from Downing street. The argument on this point is furnished by Lord Knutsford in the following passages of Ms despatch:—
jChere are pertain extra colonial functions i„ Wive of which the Governor must,' “sponsiblethe Crown alone, and hia act. *** * n regard to jvhiah does not interfere with ’ w affect the full responsibility. of the Minis, in the internal affalreqf the colony, 8u.% Independently of ,!jis ,rnqr£ strictly Imperi Katies, the Governor dcciipies a position in’ to political matters which appears t® the Ministry from takiL • ftn y P al 't in his selection. The antagonu between parties in the colonial Parliament frequently beep very strong, and on the’ wtirenient of the Ministry which had virtu, ally controlled the selection of the Governor \the succeeding Ministry might not improbably feel doubt as to hia impartiality. Por example, in dealing with the question—often one of much difficulty—whether a dissolution of Parliament ought to be granted or withheld, if the Governor should, however bona fide, act in accordance with the political interests of the party which had approved tvs appointment, his fairness might not improbably be called in question by the other side. Indeed, it seems obvious that in this and similar cases the relations of the Go vemor to the colonists, as well as to the Crown, might be greatly embarrassed.
This fairly puts the question, ‘not only from an Imperial but also from a colonial point of view. A Governor, to be efficient in that capacity, must be as far removed from the strife of local party politics as possible; and this could not and would not be the case if he owed his appointment to party influences.
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THE APPOINTMENT OF GOVERNORS., Evening Star, Issue 8050, 29 October 1889