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The Bigge Report, presented in 1818, was critical of Governor Lachlan Macquarie regarding his treatment of convicts. Macquarie was a fair-minded leader, who recognised that the convicts could contribute a great deal to the development of the colony. He encouraged the convicts and emancipists (freed convicts), and he was a progressive governor who strongly supported exploration and expansion into new areas. Macquarie was the first to introduce a building code. With his military training and vision for organisation and discipline, Macquarie was an ideal candidate to restore order to the colony, following the Rum Rebellion against deposed Governor William Bligh.

Bigge, on the other hand, felt that the convicts should be treater with stricter discipline and harsher punishment, and that the emancipists should be held in greater account. Bigge criticised Macquarie for his spending on public works and for his attempts to create an orderly colony out of the haphazard settlement that Sydney had grown into. Bigge felt that more monies should be returned directly into the economy of Sydney itself, rather than expansion beyond its confines. Macquarie resigned his commission and returned to England to defend himself against Bigge's claims.

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Q: Why was the Bigge Report critical of Macquarie?
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What were the consequences of the Bigge report?

On 5 January 1819, English judge John Thomas Bigge was dispatched to inquire into the actions of Governor Macquarie in the New South Wales colony. Bigge felt that the convicts should be treater with stricter discipline and harsher punishment, and that the emancipists should be held in greater account. Bigge criticised Macquarie for his spending on public works and for his attempts to create an orderly colony out of the haphazard settlement that Sydney had grown into. Bigge reported that more monies should be returned directly into the economy of Sydney itself, rather than expansion beyond its confines (Macquarie was also a great sponsor of exploration to find new rivers and new lands for settlement). As a result of the inquiry and Bigge's report, Macquarie was forced to resign his commission and return to England to defend his administration.


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