The Letters

THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. LABOUR PARTY TACTICS. OPPOSITION BLUNDERING. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, May 28 1901; Jul. 6 1901. Sydney is seething with excitement under the joint impulses of the royal visit and the splendid series of magnificent spectacles provided in its honour. It is unfortunate that at such a moment attention should be diverted to private disputes between employers and em­ployed, and unfortunate also that the means by which one of them has been settled should be political coercion, but the fact remains, and its significance cannot be overlooked. An iron trade strike…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. FISCAL RELATIONS. IMPERIAL DEFENCE SCHEME. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jun. 4 1901; Jul. 11 1901. Commonwealth affairs continue at a discount, and will be so until our royal guests have departed. At present Sydney, attired in her best and with all her leaders present from the Prime Minister down­wards, declines to be deterred either by threats of small-pox or a local strike in the iron trade from her complete surrender to loyal festivities. She has not so far paid serious attention to the intimation that the long-expected conference of legal representatives…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. POLITICAL ISSUES. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jun. 11 1901; Jul. 23 1901. Our royal visitors are now in New Zealand, where it is to be hoped they will be favoured with a continuance of the “Australian” weather, bright, clear, and sunny, which they have enjoyed on the mainland. In Sydney not even the shadows of the coming State elections, of the small-pox outbreak, or the iron strike could diminish the inexhaustible enthusiasm with which they have been received. The brilliant corps of British journalists who accompany them can paint the spectacles they have…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. MINISTERIAL SLIP. VARIOUS STATE PROBLEMS. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jun. 18 1901; Jul. 25 1901. To ardent Federalists the progress of the Union appears painfully slow. It is now six months since we were proclaimed one people. It is nearly three months since we elected our representatives, and almost six weeks have elapsed from their meeting in Parliament. All that has been accomplished in the way of legislation has been the launching of a Public Service Bill, providing for the control and payment of the twelve thousand employees with whom we begin national…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. THE STATE PARLIAMENTS. RAILWAY RATES. TRADE DIFFICULTIES. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jun. 25 1901; Aug. 1 1901. Sydney is not exhilarating just now. The strike of the iron workers drags its slow length along and steadily increases the numbers of those who remain out of work rather than accept the employers’ terms. Shipwrights, boiler makers, dockers, painters, and decorators, and other trades connected with ship­ping are throwing in their lot with their companions. As the area of conflict widens the suffering and bitterness intensify. We are looking…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. THE TARIFF QUESTION. COMMERCIAL FEDERATION. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jul. 2 1901; Aug. 6 1901. Australian loyalty possesses a vigour and a vengefulness which render the British sentiment by comparison pale and tepid. A paper owned by a member of the House of Commons publishes a scurrilous libel on the Monarch, and the Imperial Government is at once put on its defence for daring to confiscate the issue in which it appeared. Some weeks later a Labour newspaper in Melbourne ventures to quote it by way of extract, while affecting to disapprove of its tenour.…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. REIMPOSITION OF DUTIES. AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jul. 9 1901; Aug. 14 1901. Free Trade is probably as popular to-day as ever it was, but the Free Trade Party has just suffered the greatest reverse it has ever met with in New South Wales, hitherto its centre and citadel. This is entirely due to the unpardonable blunder condemned in these columns when it was com­mitted by Mr. Reid three months ago. Our State Legislature can no longer touch the fiscal question, yet it was forced on the electors in the hope that their declaration for it…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. FEDERAL ASPIRATIONS. THE NEW HEBRIDES. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jul. 16 1901; Aug. 20 1901. Not for a century has it been given to Britons to live under an entirely new Constitution freshly shaped with their own hands. The materials employed in Australia were quarried largely in the Mother Country and its Federal principles borrowed from Canadian and American precedents, but as a whole the Commonwealth is new, and is already affording many novel experiences even to those most closely associated with its construction. The first Federal parliament includes…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. MINISTERIAL AUTHORITY. GAMBLING CRUSADE. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jul. 26 1901; Aug. 30 1901. The Commonwealth is now beginning to be. It has a Parliament, and though it has little else of its own, this at least affords an outward and visible sign of its existence. The Parliament works, or as cynics would say, talks. Many point with alarm to the circumstance that its ten weeks’ existence has already produced a “Hansard” of nearly three thousand closely-printed pages without com­pleting the passage of a single important Bill. But what would they have?…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. POLITICAL FEUDS. PROBLEMS OF THE PACIFIC. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jul. 30 1901; Sep. 3 1901. The New South Wales Legislature has com­menced its sittings in a brawling, inconsequential fashion, apparently because the feuds generated by the recent general election are still fiercely raging among our representatives. Until parties have become better defined, and the large body of “Independents” have definitely sorted themselves, these perturbations are likely to be prolonged. The Ministry, with the Labour Party behind it, is for the time secure. So far as…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. AWAITING THE TARIFF. FISCAL PROBLEMS. FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Aug. 6 1901; Sept. 10 1901. Federal politics have been reduced to debates mainly on details or administration. The Govern­ment has suffered in prestige because Ministers, having been lavish in little things, when brought to book by the House have promptly foresworn their liberalities for the future. Much heat and ill-temper have characterised these discussions, the outcome of which is likely to be the inculcation of thrift in minor matters. Almost at the same time large sums are being added to the…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. DANGERS LOOMING AHEAD. POSITION OF THE MINISTRY. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Aug. 13 1901; Sep. 18 1901. One cannot have an omelette without breaking eggs nor a Federal Union without sacrifice of State independence. Our Provincial Parliaments are, as has several times been predicted in these columns, beginning to realise this, and to rue the deprivation of power and prestige from which they are suffering. The apprehension that union meant to them a diminished dignity always rendered them more or less covertly hostile to Federation. They only yielded when re­…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. SYMPTOMS OF “NERVES.” LABOUR CONDITIONS. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Aug. 20 1901; Sep. 26 1901. The wheels of our new national Parliament grate slowly along. Public dissatisfaction deepens, fomented by the several untoward circumstances surrounding us. The strain on all commercial and financial interests is becoming insupportable as the tariff approaches. In spite of recent rains the prospects for the coming season disturb the agricultural and pastoral interests and those dependent on them in many districts. The Senate and the House are reflecting the irrit­…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. CONGESTION OF WORK. THE KANAKA QUESTION. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Aug. 27 1901; Oct. 3 1901.  The physical area of Australia, the sparseness of its population, and the spirit of its people all sug­gest expansion as its national policy. There are traces of this natural impulse in our politics and commercial enterprises, but they are not con­spicuous. Curiously enough, the prevailing con­dition at present is one of congestion. The State Legislatures are choked with inheritances from earlier sessions and measures promised at recent general elections. In New…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. POLITICS AND BUSINESS. TARIFF DIFFERENCES. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Sep. 3 1901; Oct. 11 1901. Parliamentary proceedings have been prosaic. The fact is partly to be attributed to the absence of Mr. Reid, and partly to the practical nature of the Bills under discussion. The attendance of mem­bers has not been large, and out of those who are within sound of the bells comparatively few are within the Chamber. They are finding that Federal membership is incompatible with that attention to their own businesses which they were accustomed to give while in the…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. FEDERAL POLITICS. “WHITE AUSTRALIA” POLICY. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Sep. 10 1901; Oct. 15 1901.  Australian politics are democrats in that they accurately reflect the opinions and aims of the great majority in this country, but they are curiously composite, novel with their new federal develop­ments, and varying considerably in each State. To interpret them to British sympathisers is necessarily difficult. There is, first, the entire contrast between the size of the stage on which public affairs are transacted here and that with which you are most…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. IMMIGRATION DEBATE. LABOUR PARTY’S ATTITUDE. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Sep. 17 1901; Oct. 23 1901. The echoes of Sir William McMillan’s speech have not died away, but they are far less resonant than might have been anticipated. He is evidently startled at his own sudden access of violence, and he seized the first occasion on which it was mentioned to protest his loyalty to the Mother Country. This was never really questioned. What he did was to pander momentarily to disloyalty in order to bring himself into line with the Labour section, of whom he has…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. FEDERAL SENTIMENT. FISCAL POLICY. COLONIAL DEFENCE. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Sep. 24 1901; Oct. 29 1901.  The fluid and indeterminate character of the Parliament of the Commonwealth faithfully reflects the fluid and indeterminate condition of the public mind on all federal questions. Take a typical instance. The vital issues raised by the Immigration Restriction Bill have not developed in the House as rapidly as expected, though they must come to a head this week. So far nothing has happened, but the delay is itself significant. Our continental area…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. DUTY OF LOYAL SUBJECTS. THE LABOUR QUESTION. FEDERAL SENTIMENT. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Oct. 1 1901; Nov. 5 1901. The Barton Government has fought its first pitched battle and has won. It had nailed its flag to the mast. Defeat would have almost inevitably led to its resignation. The flag raised was that of the Empire, and a majority against the Government would have meant a selfish declaration of local demands made in utter indifference to the interests of Great Britain and to the embarrassment of its international relations. The victory was not one of…
AUSTRALIA’S PEOPLE. WHITE LABOUR MOVEMENT. THE NEW LEGISLATION. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Oct. 8 1901; Nov. 12 1901. Little more than a hundred years ago Australia was a Dark Continent in every sense of the term. There was not a white man within its borders. Its sparse native population was black as ebony. There are now some sixty thousand of their descendants remaining and about eighty thousand coloured aliens added. In another century the probability is that Australia will be a White Continent with not a black or even dark skin among its inhabitants. The Aboriginal race has…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. STRIFE IN PARLIAMENT. SETTLING THE NEW TARIFF. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Oct. 15 1901; Nov. 19 1901. The tariff has come, and with it consequentially a vote of want of confidence in its framers. The first was indispensable, the second inevitable. It should not be forgotten that the chief motive power of the Federal movement was generated out of the friction between the conflicting sets of customs duties in the several colonies. The one necessity everywhere recognised was that there should be a single Australian tariff instead of six. Without it any union…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH TARIFF CONTROVERSY. AUSTRALIAN INDEBTEDNESS. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Oct. 22 1901; Nov. 25 1901. The tariff duel between Mr. Reid and Mr. Barton has begun in earnest, though their first encounter was indecisive, since it left both unhurt. The Leader of the Opposition, heading an attack on a list of duties confessedly full of anomalies and lying open to this criticism, possessed the advantage. But whether he prepared himself too elaborately or whether the studied silence of Ministerialists during his deliverance disconcerted him by depriving him of his…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. FEDERATION DIFFICULTIES. CONTENDING FACTIONS. THE TARIFF QUESTION. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Oct. 29 1901; Dec. 3 1901. The Ministry has entered on a critical period. When the debate on the vote of want of confidence closes this week it will have a large majority, but it will not be stable. It will be the high-water mark of the career of the Ministry. The significant circumstances are that Ministers will lose three votes and that these are all Victorian of the same political complexion. Up till now twenty-two of the twenty-three representatives from…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. TARIFF DIFFICULTIES. RIVAL INTERESTS. FEDERAL POWERS. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Nov. 5 1901; Dec. 10 1901. The Commonwealth is steadily cutting its political teeth in normal fashion, with only such inflammatory symptoms and mild convulsions as are natural to its growth. The House has disposed of its first vote of want of confidence, and by giving Ministers a majority of fourteen out of seventy-four available votes has apparently strengthened their position. As a matter of fact, all that the vote precisely means is that Mr. Barton has been preferred to Mr.…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. KEEN FISCAL STRUGGLE. ALIEN LABOUR PROBLEM. “WHITE AUSTRALIA” POLICY. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Nov. 12 1901; Dec. 20 1901. Those of their own affairs which stir Australians are rarely those of greatest importance, neither are they the issues which most interest our onlookers at home, where, naturally enough, there is quite another standpoint. For the past week sport has reigned supreme in Adelaide, where the English cricketers have commenced their tour, and in Melbourne, which for racing purposes is certainly the centre of the Commonwealth. All politics…