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The Ballarat Reform League Charter

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 dishonest ministers and insists upon indirectly dictating obnoxious laws for the Colony under the assumed authority of the Royal Prerogative, the Reform League will endeavour to supersede such Royal Prerogative by asserting that of the People which is the most Royal of all Prerogatives, as the people are the only legitimate source of all political power

Political changes contemplated by the Reform League

  1. A full and fair representation.
  2. Manhood suffrage.
  3. No properly qualification of Members for the Legislative Council.
  4. Payment of Members.
  5. Short duration of Parliament.

Immediate objects of the Reform League

An immediate change in the management of the Gold Fields by disbanding the Commissioners.

The total abolition of the Diggers' and Storekeepers' licence tax, and a thorough and organised agitation of the Gold fields and the Towns.

That, to carry out the foregoing objects there should be a large Tent erected in which to meet and conduct the business of the Reform League. Cards of membership will be issued in a few days and Ballarat divided into districts.

At the same Meeting the following among other Resolutions were passed

That this Meeting condemns the insolent language used by the Colonial Secretary, the Surveyor General, the Chief Commissioner of Gold Fields, and the Chairman of Committees, for their unwarrantable assertions respecting the veracity of the Diggers and the respectability of the representatives of the public press on the gold fields, and their sneering contempt at an appeal for an investigation into the malpractices of the corrupt Camp at Ballarat.

That this meeting having heard read the draft Prospectus of the Ballarat Reform League approve of and adopt the same, and hereby pledge themselves to support the Committee in carrying out its principles and attaining its objects which are the full political rights of the people.

That this meeting expresses its utter want of confidence in the political honesty of the Government Officials in the Legislative Council, and pledge themselves to use every constitutional means to have them removed from the offices they disgrace. That this Meeting also expresses its disapprobation of the mode in which the Board of Enquiry was appointed. That it ought to have been composed of independent gentlemen and not paid government officials.

The Ballarat Times referred to the Ballarat Reform League in the following manner:

"This league is nothing more or less than the germ of independence. The die is cast, and fate has stamped upon the movement its indelible signature. No power on earth can now restrain the united might and headlong strides for freedom of the people of this country, and we are lost in amazement while contemplating the dazzling panorama of the Australian future. We salute the league, and tender our hopes and prayers for its prosperity. The League have undertaken a mighty task, fit only for a great people - that of changing the dynasty of the country. The League does not exactly propose, not adopt such a scheme, but know what it means, the principles it would inculcate, and that eventually it will resolve itself into an Australian Congress."

(cited in The Age, 23.11.1854)