The Letters

THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. IMPERIAL DEFENCE. TRADE RECIPROCITY SCHEMES. THE POLITICAL ATMOSPHERE. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, May 13 1902; Jun. 21 1902. Australia’s area is always impressive. A fortnight ago Mr. Barton bade farewell to Sydney, a week ago to Melbourne, and yesterday to Perth. He is only just out of sight of the shore of his native land, though were he to turn back he must travel continuously by land and sea for a week before arriving at his home and birthplace in this city. The Melbourne banquet tendered to him by the Mayor of the city, Sir Samuel Gillott, was an…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. GOVERNOR’S RESIGNATION. FEDERAL RESPONSIBILITY. FINANCIAL STRUGGLES. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, May 20 1902; Jun. 28 1902. Consternation is the one word that best describes the mental condition of Australians generally on hearing of the resignation of the Governor-General, for this is what his recall at his own request means. That he should have been hurt at the manner in which his princely discharge of the ceremonial and social duties of his position had been received by the House of Representatives was anticipated; that he should at once proportionately…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. DROUGHT AND DEBT. INTER-IMPERIAL TRADE. FINANCIAL REFORMS. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jun. 3 1902 [May 27]; Jul. 11 1902. Monotonous as the inevitable references to the persistence of the drought must be, its immense area, its unprecedented duration, and the deadliness of its many consequences, direct and indirect, are so much the chief factors of the situation that it is impossible to ignore them. What it means in the way of loss and misery to thousands and tons of thousands it is almost impossible to calculate, and the untold sufferings of the millions of…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. PEACE REJOICINGS. RAVAGES OF THE DROUGHT. FEDERAL RESPONSIBILITIES. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jun. 3 1902; Jul. 17 1902. Australian emotion has found another outlet in the proclamation of peace. Everywhere the joy bells were ringing, impromptu hastily-summoned patriotic meetings were held, every hamlet and settlement gave itself up to rejoicings, and our whole people seem to be inclined to forget all the months of waiting and watching that have now expired. When the Earl of Hopetoun leaves us by way of Brisbane for Canada he will be succeeded by Lord…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. RELIEF FROM THE DROUGHT. FEDERAL AND STATE ACTION. AUSTRALIAN LOANS. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jun. 17 1902; Jul. 26 1902. Hope springs once more with the first winter rains, which were never more needed, never more welcome. It is true that so far they are partial and light, but they have broken the monotony of the dry weather that has afflicted us so long, and already men are beginning to plan, in trust of the future, how best to repair the ravages of the past. A few months since, when timely showers were spread over the arid area, it was thought that the…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. FINANCIAL REFORM. NEW SOUTH WALES DISPUTES. THE INDUSTRIAL CHARTER. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jun. 18 [10?] 1902; Jul. 21 1902. A general view of Australian affairs discloses a certain political unity begotten by the pressure of the movement for economy everywhere. Queensland and Tasmania are maturing their schemes of savings prior to the meeting of their Parliaments, while South Australia, the general election under her new Constitution over, is also considering ways and means. These, the least prosperous of the States, have been the first to be compelled…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. FIRST FEDERAL LOAN. POSTPONED TO AVOID DEFEAT. STATES’ FINANCIAL POSITION. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jun. 24 1902; Aug. 2 1902. A jaded Federal Parliament, weary with more than twelve months’ sitting, and with the constant travelling to and from legislative duties exhausting its strongest members; a jaded Ministry, two of its chiefs away in Europe, and one or other of the remainder generally absent from ill-health occasioned by the unremitting strain of administration added to their duties in the House; a Commonwealth whose commerce has been hampered for…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. ATTACHMENT TO THE KING. IMPERIALISM IN THE STATES. CORONATION HONOURS. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jul. 1 1902; Aug. 13 1902. The news of his Majesty’s illness has excited the profoundest sympathy among all Australians. The same spontaneous indications of popular feeling followed as are remembered to have occurred during his former critical illness at Sandringham. The public attachment to the Sovereign was manifested in scores of ways throughout the continent. All celebrations were promptly adjourned, and where the holiday proclaimed was not revoked it became…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. DROUGHT AND REVENUE. OFFICIAL RETURNS ANALYSED. FEDERAL RESOURCES. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jul. 8 1902; Aug. 15 1902. To make clear the Australian position one must begin, as usual, by recognising that it embraces many contradictions, and proceed by distinguishing, not merely between States, but, particularly at the present time, between our wet and dry areas. All New South Wales and all Queensland beyond their coastal ranges and outside of Riverina still suffer from the blight of the most disastrous drought the continent has ever known. Whether it is the…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. POLITICAL SOCIALISM. INDUSTRIAL ARBITRATION. SCOPE OF THE TRIBUNAL. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jul. 15 1902; Aug. 23 1902. How far the developments of the Mother Country and her dependencies are proceeding on parallel lines it must be left to the future to disclose. Yet on this parallelism we must depend for mutual comprehension. The extent to which the Canadian, South African, or Australian Briton differ from their kin in the old home of the race and from each other in consequence of the profound differences in their surroundings must also remain matter…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. FINANCIAL PRUNINGS. FEDERAL AND STATE POLITICS. CONSTITUTIONAL REFORMS. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jul. 22 1902; Sep. 2 1902. When the Earl of Hopetoun was sworn in at Sydney as Governor-General it was in the presence of tens of thousands of eager spectators assembled from all Australia and beyond it to witness the celebration of the birth of the Commonwealth. Lord Tennyson, his successor, took the same oaths as Acting Governor-General at Melbourne last week before three or four hundred invited Victorian guests assembled in the great hall of Parliament House…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. “WHITE AUSTRALIA” POLICY. TARIFF DIFFICULTIES. LEGISLATIVE DISPUTES. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Jul. 29 1902; Sep. 4 1902. Even a Chinese play of the most fashionably romantic character could scarcely bear comparison in duration with the great fiscal drama which has occupied our Parliamentary stage for the past ten months. The curtain is only now about to rise on the third act of the piece in which, according to tradition, the action should reach its climax. Its first act consisted of the minute reshaping given to the Government proposals by the House of…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. IN THE GRIP OF THE DROUGHT. TROOPS RETURNING. EMPLOYMENT PROBLEM. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Aug. 5 1902; Sep. 16 1902. The monotony of references to the drought faithfully reflects the monotony of its persistence. Our winter rains are falling lightly and only on the highlands. The immense Australian steppes which stretch from the Gulf of Carpentaria to beyond the Murray and from the coast range on the east right across the continent are lying absolutely barren. In many parts of these there is no wish for showers at present. If they came they could not…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. CORONATION ECHOES. THE FEDERAL GIANT. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Aug. 12 1902; Sep. 20 1902. The Coronation has been quietly and thankfully celebrated throughout Australia. When the original date was altered most of the festivities prepared were abandoned, and but few have been revived. The public illuminations were exhibited when the King’s recovery was assured. The fact that the postponed ceremonial was held on a Saturday also had its effect in minimising official functions and distributing them over the adjoining days. The acting Governor-General’s…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. POLICY OF RETRENCHMENT. FEMALE SUFFRAGE. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Aug. 19 1902; Sep. 24 1902. The arrival of the Drayton Grange and the Britannic, overcrowded with our returning soldiers, afflicted with epidemics, with insufficient medical provision and boat or raft accommodation, and manifest want of discipline, is the most unfortunate incident for us of the whole South African Campaign, because it is exercising the worst influence on public opinion. A Royal Commission appointed by the Federal Government, consisting of three leading members of Parliament…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. IMPERIAL PATRIOTISM. DOWNING STREET CONFERENCE. DISSATISFACTION AND RELIEF. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Aug. 26 1902; Oct. 3 1902. Imperial Federation is a popular watchword. Imperialism is unpopular. The distinction between them expresses the attitude of Australia so far as it has yet found expression. For the most part our ideal is a matter of sentiment. The strength of the movement arises from its emotionalism. The feeling of unity of race is the wool out of which the fabric of the future constitutional development has to be woven. It exists everywhere,…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM. SHAPING THE TARIFF BILL. FEDERAL DIVISIONS. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Sep. 2 1902; Oct. 9 1902. The spring rains have continued, but they are still far from slaking the thirst of soils parched to dust by eight years of deficient supply. The encouraging feature is that light as the falls have been everywhere they have been widely dispersed and intermittently scattered over the past fortnight. From this it is augured that a real change has come from which further rains may be reasonably anticipated. Victoria, which has hitherto been…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS. FIGHT FOR THE TARIFF. MINISTERIAL VICTORIES. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Sep. 9 1902; Oct. 14 1902. Our first constitutional crisis has come but not gone, and so far the Federal Government has achieved one of its rare victories. It took the leadership of the House of Representatives into its own hands quietly but firmly, and without any canvassing for advice laid down its own course, kept to it, and gave effect to it with the approbation of a four to one majority. Yet it was the greatest difficulty since the passage of the Immigration…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. TARIFF SETTLEMENT. FEDERAL FINANCIAL FREEDOM. THE ANTI-UNION AGITATION. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Sep. 16 1902; Oct. 23 1902. When the history of the Commonwealth is written hereafter in the light of fuller knowledge and more dispassionate criticism than we now possess it will become apparent that the assent given yesterday to the Customs Tariff Act marks one of its greatest epochs. Our Constitution, though it provides for the transfer of political power from the States to the Federation, does not make that transfer complete at once; it does not authorise…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. CRISIS IN VICTORIA. RETRENCHMENT AND REFORM. APPEAL TO THE ELECTORS. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Sep. 23 1902; Oct. 29 1902. Victoria is for the moment the chief centre of Australian interest, because a general election is proceeding at which the real issues at stake in every State are put plainly before the local electors. There was a time when that State occupied the foremost place by virtue of her population, prosperity, and advanced politics, but during the last decade she has been surpassed in each of these respects by one at least of her neighbours.…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. SIR G. TURNER’S BUDGET. STATE AND FEDERAL RIVALRY. THE CRY AGAINST THE UNION. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Sep. 30 1902; Nov. 8 1902. The Federal Budget for 1902–3 constituted another success for Sir George Turner for his painstaking zeal, indefatigable industry, scrupulous precision of statement, and soberness of judgment. If his mind were a calculating machine, his speech could not have been more dispassionate or less imaginative. Without a flash of humour or a flight of fancy, an unhackneyed metaphor, or a glint of enthusiasm, he plodded his way prosaically…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. “TRIAL BY JURY.” NEW SOUTH WALES CRISIS. OPPOSITION DEFEATED. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Oct. 7 1902; Nov. 14 1902. New South Wales has experienced a political crisis that came and went as swiftly as a tropic thunderstorm. Such an incident could occur in few constitutionally-governed countries, so that the meteoric manner of its entrance and exit may easily serve to deepen the darkness which seems to enshroud us from our critics across the ocean if we can judge by the fragments of their commentaries that have reached us. A fortnight ago a Jew was prosecuted…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. CLOSE OF THE FIRST SESSION. FEDERAL ACHIEVEMENTS. PARTY POLITICAL TACTICS. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Oct. 15 1902; Nov. 19 1902. The opening chapter of the first volume of the story of the Australian Commonwealth has closed—the first session of its first Parliament has ended. Drawing a long breath of relief, and with some ejaculations of surprise at having at last reached the shore of recess, its wearied members are dispersing themselves over the continent. Their voyage, if not tempestuous, has been full of perils, much of it in uncharted seas, and most of…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. FEDERAL AND STATE ISSUES. PARTY PREPARATIONS. PROTECTION OR FREE TRADE? FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Oct. 21 1902; Nov. 27 1902. The Prime Minister has returned, and he has explained the results of his mission to London, the acting Prime Minister has expounded the work of the session just concluded under his leadership, and the policy of the Opposition has been officially declared by Mr. Reid. We have thus brought before the public almost at the same moment our political past, present, and future in Federal affairs in such a manner as to focus the attention of…
THE NEW COMMONWEALTH. FINANCIAL BURDENS. UNION AND STATE TREASURIES. RETRENCHMENT AND TAXATION. FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT. SYDNEY, Oct. 28 1902; Dec. 3 1902. The eternal want of pence is always with our public men, yet at different times it exercises very different degrees of pressure. At present its coercion in Australia is the chief feature of the political situation; it governs our policy tyrannically both in the Commonwealth and in the States. Turn where one will it asserts itself more or less obtrusively under a great variety of forms, but everywhere with most uncomfortable urgency…