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The Kelly Outbreak

Back in Greta the police station had re opened and the newly formed Kelly Reward Board had attracted around 65 applicants all claiming a share of the reward money. Superintendent Hare had received the largest sum and Thomas Curnow not content with his share lodged a claim for more money.

In April 1881, the requests of Chief Commissioner Standish and Superintendent Nicolson for a formal inquiry were realised. The reports of officers pertaining to either the pursuit of the capture of the Kelly were submitted as part of the inquiry. The Royal Commission was introduced to investigate the events leading to the Kelly Outbreak and thereafter reports and other documents were submitted to the commission. Several progress reports were produced and presented to Parliament.

The enquiry resulted in the retirement of Chief Commissioner Standish and Superintendent Hare and the demotion of Superintendent Sadleir.

The Kelly Outbreak was important in regards to police accountability and it provoked examinations into Victoria’s police structure. On another level it played on people’s continuing fascination with the outlaws as museum requests for the armour along with plays and theatre productions continued to appear long after the demise of the gang.

The Kelly Outbreak brought to the attention of the authorities the antagonism felt by many of the selectors in the Victoria’s northeastern district. The aim of the Royal Commission was to try to understand the catalyst of such lawlessness and to make not only recommendations but to also challenge and change the structure of the Victorian Police Force.

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