Ballarat Reform League Charter
This document doesn’t look very exciting but it helped make a lot of things happen in Victoria and elsewhere. It is a “charter” which is a list of ideas about how things should be. This charter was written by members of the Ballarat Reform League in 1854. It contains their passionate demands for more people in the colony of Victoria to have greater involvement in making laws in Victoria, such as having the right to vote, and to stand for parliament. The charter also stated that the administration of the goldfields and the colony’s police service and justice system needed to be improved.
The charter was read out at a monster meeting on Bakery Hill, Ballarat, 11 November 1854, to around 10,000 miners and residents. The people at the meeting voted in agreement with the charter which, a few weeks later, was taken to Melbourne and presented to Governor Hotham by representatives of the Ballarat Reform League. They also asked for the release of three men held in prison on charges of burning down a Ballarat hotel. One of the Governor's clerks made a copy of the charter, and it is this clerk's copy that was kept by the Governor that we can see online now.
At a Meeting held on Bakery Hill in the presence of about ten thousand men on Saturday November 11th, 1854 the following were adopted as the principles and objects of the “Ballarat Reform League”
That it is the inalienable right of every citizen to have a voice in making the laws he is called upon to obey – that taxation without representation is tyranny.
That, being as the people have been hitherto, unrepresented in the Legislative Council of the Colony of Victoria, they have been tyrannised over, and it becomes their duty as well as interest to resist, and if necessary to remove the irresponsible power which so tyrannises over them.
That this Colony has hitherto been governed by paid Officials, upon the false assumption that law is greater than justice because, forsooth, it was made by them and their friends, and admirably suits their selfish ends and narrow minded views. It is the object of the “League” to place the power in the hands of responsible representatives of the people to frame wholesome laws and carry on an honest Government.
That it is not the wish of the “League” to effect an immediate separation of this Colony from the parent country, if equal laws and equal rights are dealt out to the whole free community. But that if Queen Victoria continues to act upon the ill advice of the dishonest ministers and insists upon indirectly dictating obnoxious laws for the Colony
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