The Letters

THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. STRIFE IN THE SENATE. FEDERAL FINANCIAL PITFALLS. “BLACK” NEW GUINEA PROBLEMS. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Nov. 19 1901; Dec. 24 1901. The Federal Parliament differs from its parent at Westminster but little in spirit or in form. It is a much smaller, more colloquial, and less dignified body, but it observes the same rules of debate and pursues virtually the same course in managing its business. The cardinal difference between them lies in the existence of our elective Senate claiming to take a much more active and influential part in polities than an…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. TARIFF PROSPECTS. THE BLACK LABOUR SPECTRE. NEW GUINEA PROBLEMS. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Nov. 26 1901; Dec. 31 1901. The Commonwealth is progressing, though this is not very apparent. Its Parliament, on the contrary, is, in colonial phrase, “bogged”. The team attached to it is so evenly divided and pull in such exactly opposite directions that the State vehicle makes no advance. Here in Sydney we are so much overstocked and so uncertain as to the commercial future that business is almost at a standstill, and, in some degree at all events, the same…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. POLITICAL ALLIANCES. NOVEL ELECTORAL PROPOSAL. PARTY LEADERS AT STRIFE. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Dec. 3 1901; Jan. 7 1902. In Australia, as elsewhere, the politician occupies the centre of the stage, even when his proceedings count for little among the real forces and influences that are shaping the future. We cannot afford to neglect him, and we are in a measure responsible for his doings. Hence the importance assigned to his vagaries. When we would be glad to overlook him his meddlesomeness here, as in the United States, compels us to pay him the homage…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. OPPOSITION TACTICS. TARIFF SCHEDULE CONFLICT. MINISTERIAL TRIUMPH. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Dec. 10 1901; Jan. 15 1902. Australian politics have been passing through an eventful phase, with many dramatic episodes and stirring surprises. A game of chess between experts would be tame and circumscribed in comparison to the incessant evolutions of its living pieces. The moves on the board have been confined to no set scheme, but out of a “most admired disorder” are gradually developing important consequences. The Ministry, worsted in the House of…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. AUSTRALIA AND THE WAR. “ONE PEOPLE, ONE DESTINY.” SERIOUS FINANCIAL PROBLEMS. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Dec. 17 1901; Jan. 22 1902. South Africa has proved the touchstone of Empire. The war with the Transvaal first demonstrated the unity and unanimity of the British race in all its realms. Our Federal motto, “One People, one Destiny,” with the Tennysonian addition, “one Flag, one Fleet, one Throne,” became at once the Imperial motto. It was no holiday parade. The greater the demand made on the nation and the darker its fortunes the ampler was the response…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. TROOPS FOR THE FRONT. SHIPPING TROUBLES. OBSTINATE GERMAN OFFICIALS. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Dec. 24 1901; Jan. 29 1902. Christmas brings us no peace this year. On the contrary, it arrives, so to speak, sword in hand. There is, first, the great national issue as to how far our obligations to the Empire require us to offer further Australian reinforcements for South Africa. Besides the national problem, which has aroused great heat, anxiety, and impatience because of the non-committal caution and reticence of the Federal Ministry, we have forced on us an…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. “WHITE AUSTRALIA.” INDUSTRIAL ARBITRATION. TARIFF LEGISLATIVE EFFECTS. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Dec. 31 1901; Feb. 4 1902. The close of the first year of the Commonwealth does not appear triumphant to those within its boundaries. At the moment the public are vexed at the dilatoriness of the Federal Government in sending its first contingent to South Africa and vexed with the Federal Parliament for its tardiness and shiftlessness in dealing with the tariff. Such a mood may be mainly due to the lack of perspective and want of a sense of proportion exhibited…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. AUSTRALIA AND THE WAR. FURTHER TARIFF PROBLEMS. MINISTERIAL DIFFICULTIES. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jan. 7 1902; Feb. 11 1902. The Commonwealth begins its second year by no means free from the ailments of infancy. It cannot be said to have cut its teeth, for it has not yet united its State Defence Departments. Nor, if the tariff may be likened to an attack of whooping cough, can the little patient be considered half through that very serious complaint, painful to itself and distressing to its neighbours. The results of the radical treatment adopted to…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. FIRST YEAR’S RECORD. PARTY STRUGGLES AND AIMS. PROSPERITY OF THE STATES. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jan. 14 1902; Feb. 20 1902. One of the features in the first year’s record of the Commonwealth has been the success of the Governor-General in his official capacity, and one of its good fortunes the gradual restoration of his physical health. Our summer heat appears to be preferable to him to the mild winter weather of Hobart and Melbourne. A few months ago he spent his holiday in Northern Queensland in order to enjoy more sunshine than Sydney could afford,…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. AUSTRALIA AND THE WAR. THE PEOPLE’S LOYALTY. MINISTERIAL AWAKENING. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jan. 21 1902; Feb. 26 1902. Australia is drawing a deep breath of relief and the popular aspiration is at last satisfied. The Commonwealth has spoken and acted, its Government and Opposition have united, and their patriotism has been proved beyond all question. One thousand irregulars are about to depart for the scene of conflict, and more are to follow them as the need arises. The current opinion on the situation which is expressed here is that the war should be…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. LORD HOPETOUN’S AVOWAL. STATE JEALOUSIES. SOUTH AUSTRALIAN PROBLEMS. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jan. 28 1902; Mar. 6 1902. The Earl of Hopetoun has created a political sensation. The 26th of January is celebrated annually by the Australian Natives’ Association in Melbourne, its home of origin and head centre of influence. It was at this gathering, in our most Imperialistic capital and to an audience overflowing with loyal enthusiasm and martial spirit, that he deliberately, decisively, and dramatically departed from the reserve which he and  all our…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. COLONIAL LOYALTY. EARL OF HOPETOUN’S POPULARITY. VICEREGAL SPEECH CRITICISED. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Feb. 4 1902; Mar. 12 1902. The Earl of Hopetoun’s speech in Melbourne has been challenged in Parliament partly because it affected a party issue, but chiefly because it offended public sentiment. When he announced his endorsement of Mr. Barton’s delay in offering a Federal contingent for South Africa he offended that sentiment and invited rejoinder. What was said in the House of Representatives was wide of the real grievance, which was neither political…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. LABOUR POLITICAL POWER. QUEENSLAND’S PROBLEMS. INDUSTRIAL ARBITRATION. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Feb. 11 1902; Mar. 21 1902. The Labour Party dominates Australian politics; though, strictly speaking, it is not  a party at all, its origin is not political, and it comprises only one class of those who live by their labour. Its influence is everywhere, and if it were what it pretends to   be it would be all-powerful. Practically our whole community lives by its labour and might claim enrolment in its ranks, and even if only those who work with their hands…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. CORONATION CONFERENCE. UNITY OF THE EMPIRE. ANGLO JAPANESE TREATY. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY. Feb. 18 1902; Mar. 25 1902. Imperial issues still engross the attention of Australians. The despatch of the first half and the organisation of the second half of the Federal contingent has focussed interest on the relations between the Commonwealth and the Mother Country. The treaty with Japan has revived the problems of the Far East and our interest in them. The Coronation is attracting much attention, not merely as a great ceremonial of special significance at the…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. ATTITUDE OF NEW ZEALAND. THE FEDERAL CAPITAL. TOUR OF INSPECTION. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Feb. 25 1902; Apr. 1 1902. The Commonwealth can consider the choice of a site for its future capital without concern as to any opinion on the point that may be entertained in New Zealand. As readers of the Morning Post were informed many months ago there is no prospect, immediate or remote, of any movement on the part of the Maorilanders towards a partnership with the Australian States. Their commission appointed to inquire into the proposal reported emphatically…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. AUSTRALIAN PERILS. DROUGHT, DEBT, AND PLAGUE. NEW POLITICAL PARTY. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Mar. 4 1902; Apr. 8 1902. Australia’s deadliest enemy is the drought. It is the want of a sufficient rainfall that renders its vast interior in parts a desert, and almost everywhere unfit for close settlement. Population is confined to the coast for no other reason than that the track of Antarctic storms follows its sweep eastwards from South Australia to Victoria, Tasmania, and the southern parts of New South Wales. Our own sea-fed uplands enjoy plentiful supplies…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. AUSTRALASIAN EXPANSION. WESTERN PACIFIC PROBLEMS. NEW IMPERIAL CENTRE. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Mar. 11 1902; Apr. 17 1902. The Commonwealth has taken its first plunge into the troubled waters of the Pacific. British New Guinea has been formally transferred to its care, and constitutes its earliest dependency. Henceforward, pending Federal legislation, the Governor-General will take the place vacated by the Governor of Queensland, and will control it under the advice of his Ministers as if it were a Crown Colony in his charge, directly instructing his…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. QUEENSLAND’S ELECTIONS. CABINET CHANGES. ELECTORAL INNOVATIONS. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Mar. 25 1902; Apr. 29 1902. The Queensland elections fulfil exactly the forecast that was framed for those columns a month before their occurrence. Mr. Philp remains in power with a reduced majority, the Labour Party having deprived him of three followers, and the Independents remain as they were. In his own constituency he had an overwhelming victory, which he well deserved. Townsville is his, as he is Townsville’s, and each is properly proud of the other. Elsewhere…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. GRAVE FINANCIAL CLOUDS. FAIR TRADE OR PROTECTION. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Mar. 27 1902; May 6 1902. The Commonwealth owes nothing to luck. Ever since its establishment its States have suffered from one permanent and many intermittent calamities. A pitiless drought has persisted for years past. Welcome showers are now falling on our coast highlands and those of Queensland, but the great western belt lies still scorched and wasted without any relief to the prolonged thirst of its plains or its perishing flocks and herds. The plague lingers among us and in…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. AUSTRALIAN RIVALRIES. WRESTLE FOR MASTERY. PROBLEMS TO BE SOLVED. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Apr. 1 1902; May 12 1902. Who shall be master—the States or the Commonwealth? Our Constitution divided the political power of Australia between them, but it left quite open the question of ultimate supremacy and, indeed, assumed that there would be nothing of the kind. The Federal domain was carved out of that of the States at the popular behest and against the wishes of their Administrations and Legislatures. This has first to be effectively occupied, and then must…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. ANTI-FEDERAL TACTICS. THE FREE TRADE CAMPAIGN. “PLUNGING” POLICY RESULTS. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Apr. 15 [7?] 1902; May 20 1902. Australia politically was endowed with union rather than with unity. For this there can be no reproach that is not shared by all of us, since it was just this distinction which our Constitution makes, and was intended to make; nothing more was possible, and this was difficult to secure. Certain subjects were set apart on which we were to act as one people. This was the domain of the Commonwealth within whose range we were to be…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. DROUGHT DESOLATION. DEMAND FOR REFORMS. RETRENCHMENT MOVEMENT. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Apr. 15 1902; May 23 1902. Public affairs in Australia were never more dependent on its physical conditions than they are to-day. Any faithful picture of them must dwell rather on the black background of drought and debt than the narrow foreground filled by political events and Parliamentary figures of note. A belt of mountains runs from the Gulf of Carpentaria roughly parallel with the ocean down the whole east coast of the continent through Queensland and New South…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. FIRST NATIONAL TARIFF. FISCAL PROBLEMS. MINISTERIAL DANGERS. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY. Apr. 22 1902; May 29 1902. The confusing and apparently endless melée surrounding the preparation of the first Australian tariff is drawing near to its conclusion. The shadow of its uncertainties still lies across all our commerce, and in every case in which the duties are capable of reduction limits imports to short supplies. But it is just about to leave the House of Representatives in the shape of a schedule of thirty pages attached to a Customs Act of two pages,…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. DROUGHT AND DISTRESS. FEDERAL FIELD FORCES. ORGANISATION FOR DEFENCE. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, May 6 [Apr. 29] 1902; Jun. 12 1902. The drought continues over the inland area, which has suffered most, and is in direst need of rain. Seasonable showers have fallen along the coast ranges, and here and there have drifted some little distance beyond. Speaking generally, however, there has been no relief, and the tales of distress accumulate with the prolongation of the dry weather. By means of the railways fodder is being poured into the interior, where many…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. FEDERAL ECONOMIES. STATES’ RIVAL INTERESTS. RESULTS OF THE TARIFF. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, May 6 1902; Jun. 16 1902. Gales and storms have lashed our coasts, but the drought continues, flocks dwindle, and with them the hopes of a winter recovery. Our western country lies blighted and seared out of recognition, and in Queensland the sheep are fast being obliterated on the withered plains. All the trials and all the losses to which we have had to submit hitherto are as nothing to this. Its effects are widespread and must be lasting. Yet the revenue in this…