150 years of Government Printing in Queensland. Queensland Parliament responds to royal triumph and tragedy in the 1860s

This week marks the 150th anniversary of the Queensland Government Printer, Goprint.  Mr William Charles Bellbridge was appointed as the first Queensland Government Printer in 1862, at an annual salary of 500 pounds.  The Government Printing Office’s initial role was to print the Government Gazettes, Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) Votes and Proceedings, Acts and Statutes of Queensland, but quickly expanded to include all government printing.

     

The State Library holds copies of the Votes and Proceedings of the Legislative Assembly from the first session of the Queensland Parliament in 1861.  The Votes and Proceedings from the first three sessions were printed by commercial printers with the Government Printing Office taking over this duty from the 2nd session of 1862.

On Thursday 1st of May 1862 Mr. R.G.W. Herbert, the first premier of Queensland moved the adoption of an Address to Her Majesty “expressing the loyal sympathy with which this House had learned the Death of the Prince Consort”.  Queen Victoria’s beloved husband Albert died on 14th of December 1861.  The first session of the Parliament of 1861 in January had only lasted a few days and was devoted to the passing of the Diseases in Cattle Bill “to prevent the introduction of diseased cattle into the Colony of Queensland” in response to an outbreak of cattle disease in New South Wales.  So it was in the second session that the Queensland Parliament was able to address the Queen’s bereavement.

“May it please Your Majesty:-
“We, Your Majesty’s loyal and dutiful subjects, the Members of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland in Parliament assembled, desire humbly to express to Your Majesty the loyal and affectionate sympathy with which we have learned that irreparable bereavement which, in the death of the Prince Consort, it has pleased God that Your Majesty should suffer.
“The inhabitants of the several districts of Queensland having already approached Your Majesty with words of heartfelt condolence, we would now be content respectfully to assure Your Majesty that the Legislature of this Colony, which has such especial reason to be grateful for the justice and discretion of Your Majesty’s rule, is not backward in recognizing the advantages conferred alike upon all parts of the Empire, by the wisdom and virtue of that august Prince, who was Your Majesty’s ablest and most confidential advisor.
“That the long and prosperous continuance of Your Majesty’s reign may be the means of preserving, even to the most distant dependencies of Great Britain, those blessings which we now so thankfully acknowledge, is the earnest prayer of Your Majesty’s most loyal and most devoted subjects.”

The Queensland Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) was first published in 1864 in response to allegedly unreliable newspaper reports.  Hansard covers parliamentary proceedings in more detail that the Votes and Proceedings.  However, according to the official Queensland Parliament website, “It is not a verbatim report of what is said in the Legislative Assembly. Rather, it is an accurate written representation of speeches and statements devoid of redundancies, obvious grammatical errors, slips of the tongue and factual anomalies.”  Hansard has been in the spotlight recently over changes to the wording of a fiery speech by Premier Anna Bligh. 

Coincidentally the first edition of Hansard also covers an Address to Queen Victoria although of a much happier nature, the birth of a royal prince.  This address refers to the birth of the first child of the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) and Princess Alexandra.  Prince Albert Victor was then second in line to the throne but never became king, dying of influenza in 1892.  In 1864 the Prince’s birth was greeted by the Queensland Parliament with great optimism.

“Most Gracious Sovereign,
             “May it please Your Majesty,
“We, your Majesty’s loyal and dutiful subjects, the Members of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland, in Parliament assembled, desire humbly to assure your Majesty of our continued affection and loyalty towards your Majesty’s person and Government, and of the sincere satisfaction with which we have learned that the auspicious marriage of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales has been blessed by the birth of a Royal Prince.
“To your Majesty’s faithful subjects in this distant, yet closely-united portion of your vast empire, the renewed hope that your Majesty’s beneficent rule may be perpetuated by the direct lineal succession of princes inheriting the virtues of their august parents, is productive of joy and thankfulness ; and we confidently trust, that when this infant Prince, on whose account we now pray your Majesty to accept our humble congratulations, shall ascend the throne, he will be able to observe with pride that this portion of his dominions, however changed by material progress and development, has remained unaltered in loyalty and devotion to its Sovereign.
“That this day may yet be far distant, and that we may enjoy many additional years of your Majesty’s gracious rule, is the prayer of your Majesty’s faithful subjects.”

Prince Albert and Prince George of Wales in Brisbane, August 1881. State Library of Queensland. Negative number 68314

Prince Albert Victor on a visit to Brisbane in 1881 with his younger brother George (later George V).

The State Library of Queensland holds an extensive collection of materials published by the Queensland Government Printer. Digitised copies of the Queensland Government Gazette between 1859 and 1900 are available online through Queensland's Past Online.

Simon Miller - Library Technician, State Library of Queensland

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