THE BENDIGO ADVERTISER
PROGRESSION, OUR RIGHTS, AND OUR RESOURCES.
SANDHURST, SATURDAY, JULY 7, 1877. MR. BLACKHAM'S RESIGNATION.
When Mr. Berry moved on Wednesday night that the petitions received against the returns of certain honorable members should, be referred to the Elections Committee, Mr.
Gaunson asked that the motion should-be, adjourned until Tuesday next, as he had a substantial, reason for the request, which he did not, however, communicate to the House. The ready compliance: of the Chief Secretary, with a request urged in that mysterious maimer, we at first attributed to an amiable desire to reward Mr. Gaunson's exceptionally good.bohaviour that night by a little; indulgence, as a froward boy might be treated when he was good. But now the murder is out; the mystification of the House is dispelled, and the action of Mr. Gaunson accounted for by the fact communi- cated by the Age, that Mr. Blackham has resigned his seat, and a writ for a new elec- tion is expected to be issued by the Speaker. Now the onlyeffect Mr. Blackham's letter to the Speaker can have, will be as an intima- tion of his intention not to oppose the petition presented by Mr. J. D. Coburn against, his election for the simple reason that he cannot resign a seat he never filled, as he was legally incapacitated at the time of his election. In the first place, the Speaker cannot receive the resignation, as he is bound by the law; and secondly, the House of Assembly, with all the legal ability Mr. Gaunson - can bring to bear on the question, has no power to interpose its authority to stop, a petitioner in proving his case before a judicial com- mittee. No doubt: there will be a stormy discussion and.much irrelevant matter intro duced, but what can the inevitable result be' when the law of the land, and the practice of the Imperial Parliament on the point at issue, are distinctly defined ?
The law is explicit , that an uncertificated insolvent is incapable; of . election to a seat in Parliament; and on the subject of dealing •with petitions : against : tho return of members, "Todd's Parliamentary Go- vernment in England," , is an authority, which the Speaker and the House of As- sembly cannot ignore! That authority says, " Furthermore, upon any such vacancy occurring, as a general rule no new writ can issue if a petition has been presented against the election or return until; the petition has been finally adjudicated upon by an election committee. And for the obvious reason that it might appear asa result of such an inves- tigation that there had been no vacancy, for that, in fact, another person was the rightful owner of the seat." The words " as a general rule" can have no application' in the, present instance,' as they refer to specific cases, some of which cannot occur in this country, and none of them apply to the position in; which Mr. Blackham is placed. For instance, a petition might be lodged against the return of a gentleman to the House of Commons, and if, before the petition was tried, he was elevated to the House of Peers by, creation or suc- cession, the necessity. for prosecuting the petition would cease, and the writ could be issued, unless some one else claimed the seat. It is obvious, therefore, that Mr. Gaunson has been erroneously advised in pursuance - of the course he is evidently disposed to attempt on Tues- day night next. A great deal will de- pend on the action the Speaker will think it right to adopt on receipt of that pseudo- resignation. Indeed, it is difficult to see how Sir Charles Duffy can look on it other- wise than as so much waste paper with the petition of Mr. Coburn in his hand, and the practice of Parliament before him. If, however, Mr. Gaunson should move a formal resolution on the subject, it is to be hoped he will be neither en- couraged or countenanced by the Govern- ment. What could be more detrimental to
them, as a Government, or shake the confi dence of men in their sense of justice, than seeing them using the powerful majority at their command to accomplish by sheer forco of numbers a most glaring and palpable in justice ? The Ajc has most unnecessarily dragged again file private affairs of Mr. Blackham before the public, in the paragraph to which we have referred, In stating the amount of his liabilities at the time of his insolvency, and asserting that the amount of his debts was paid in full. On looking at the report of the proceedings of the Insolvent Court of the 211th ultimo it will be seen that the affidavit sworn by Mr. Blackham, when his solicitor, Mr. David Gaunson, applied to Judge Noel for his cer tificate, allivmed a directly opposite state ment. The Ay>: made the same statement on a previous occasion, and wc called attention to its inaccuracy. The conductors of that journal can scarcely plead that they did not notice the correction, and yet it is difficult to believe that even the Aye would deliberately persist in this misrepresentation of the truth in a matter of public importance, even to assist a friend. 'Die point is a very material one, for if Mr. Blackham really paid his debts in full, no person would, we imagine, take advantage of ail}' legal provision in order to oust him and give the seat to another. Mr. Blackham, however, does not himself say that this was the case, and it is well 1 iiiown in Sandhurst that it is very far from being true. Perhaps our Melbourne contemporary will now see the propriety of correcting the error into which it has fallen and placing before its readers the truth.