Page images

one by Mr. Deegan. A Convention Bill, introduced by the Ministry, was dropped early in the session. The people could not be moved to take an interest in a measure which proposed to delegate to a specially elected body the reform of Parliament.

The Old Age Pensions Bill was the only measure passed during the session of any importance. Mr. Peacock's proposal to reduce the amount payable to a pensioner from 10s. to 7s. a week was defeated by a small majority in the House, but an amendment to make it 8s. was afterwards carried ; and this, with some modifications of the system of allotment and widening of the scope of the measure, became the Old Age Pensions Bill as finally passed into law.

Mr. Peacock, as Treasurer, made his financial statement on August 27. He pleaded the uncertainty of the amount to be returned to the State Exchequer from the Commonwealth as a reason for the speculative nature of his Estimates. He expected 2,000,0001. to be so returned, on which basis the receipts of revenue would be in excess of the Estimate by 600,0001. The old-age pensions would involve about 225,0001. There were to be no new taxes. The year's revenue had been 8,087,2651. ; the expenditure 7,709,033.

A motion of want of confidence, brought forward by Mr. Irvine in the Assembly on November 27 was, after a feeble debate, withdrawn.

The new Governor, Sir George Sydenham Clarke, landed at Melbourne on December 10.

A great Free Trade demonstration was held at Melbourne on August 12, at which Mr. G. H. Reid was the chief speaker. This was followed, after the announcement of the Federal tariff, by another meeting at the Town Hall, on October 21, at which resolutions were passed strongly condemning the fiscal scheme as taxing the necessaries of life and imposing unfair burdens on the mining and agricultural industries, as well as imposts on the raw material of manufactures.

The resignation of the Bishop, Dr. Goe, was announced, to date from the end of September.

Queensland.—Queensland, which was the last State to enter the Union, and was not without misgivings as to the effect of federation on her own interests, before the end of the year saw much cause to believe her forebodings justified. Her own share in the representation she regarded as proportionately inadequate, though she herself was to blame for the mismanagement which led to the election of four Members out of six for the Senate pledged to support the fiscal policy of the Commonwealth, although it was notorious that the State is inclined to Free Trade, with which her interests are closely connected.

The withdrawal of Sir James Dickson, the local Premier, from the State Government, on his appointment to a seat in the Federal Cabinet, led to a reconstruction of the State Ministry. Mr. Robert Philp became Chief Secretary ; Mr. T. B. Cribb,

1901.] Queensland and the Kanaka Bill.-South Australia. [459 Treasurer; Mr. J. Leahy, Secretary of Railways and Public Works; and Mr. J. Murray, Secretary for Public Instruction and Postmaster; the other offices remaining the same.

The death of Sir James Dickson in January led to the election of Mr. Barnes, a Ministerialist, for his district of Balumba by a large majority.

The Duke of York arrived at Brisbane overland from Melbourne on May 20. There was much public disappointment at the Ophir not coming to Moreton Bay. The Duke left on May 24 for Sydney.

Lord Lamington, the Governor, left on June 20, on the expiration of his term of office.

There was an outbreak of bubonic plague in the State among the arrivals by sea, which was officially declared to have subsided by October 3.

The Kanaka Bill, brought forward by the Federal Ministry, was denounced by the Queensland Government, Mr. Philp, the Premier, in a speech declaring it would entirely destroy the sugar industry, and involve the State in total ruin. A protest against the measure was made to the Commonwealth Government. There was much discontent at the passage of the bill into law, and the end of the year left the majority of the Queensland people, as represented in their own Parliament, more than ever dissatisfied with the Federal Union.

The census returns showed the population of Queensland to number 502,892-being an increase of 109,174 in the decennial period.

South Australia.—The resignation of Mr. Holder, caused by his acceptance of the office of Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, led to a reconstruction of the State Cabinet. A new Ministry, consisting mainly of the Members of the old, was formed under the Premiership of Mr. J. G. Jenkins, with the addition of Mr. T. L. Brooker as Minister of Education and Industry.

The State Government desired the Federal Government to take over the administration of the Northern Territory-an outlying district, the possession of which, detached as it is geographically from the older and more settled districts, and physically alien and remote, had long been regarded as a white elephant.

The Duke of York landed at Adelaide on July 11, and left again on July 15, his visit being attended with very hearty loyal demonstrations.

Sir Hector Macdonald, the well-known South African general, arrived at Adelaide on October 7, and received an enthusiastic welcome.

The revenue for the year ending June 30 was 2,818,7121., showing an increase of 37,5541.

The census returns gave the number of the population as 562,595, being an increase at the rate of 15 per cent. in ten years.

Western Australia.The accession of Sir John Forrest to the Federal Government necessitated a change in the State Ministry. Mr. Leake became Premier and Attorney-General; Mr. Illingworth, Treasurer and Colonial Secretary, Mr. Holmes, Minister of Railways; Mr. Kingswill, Public Works; Mr. Gregory, Mines; and Mr. Somers, Lands. There were several changes of Gov. ernment during the year, the parties being almost equally divided on issues mostly personal. A motion of want of confidence, brought forward by Mr. Piesse, a leader of the Forrest party, was carried on November 4, by 24 votes to 22. The Leake Ministry resigning, Mr. Piesse attempted to form an Administration. Failing in the attempt, Mr. Morgans was sent for, who formed a composite Ministry selected from leading men on both sides. The new Ministers being mostly defeated when they went to the electors, and the Governor refusing a dissolution, Mr. Morgans resigned. Then another combination was attempted under Mr. Leake, who returned to office with most of the old Members of the Forrest Ministry, on December 23.

The Assembly passed a resolution, after the announcement of the Federal tariff, condemning the new fiscal scheme as injurious to the trade and commerce of Western Australia.

The Duke of York arrived at Perth overland from Albany on July 22, the stormy weather preventing a landing at Fremantle.

The State Parliament was opened on June 28 by the new Governor, Sir Arthur Lawley.

A great strike of the men employed on the State railways produced much excitement and led to considerable interruption of business. The strikers it was proved were earning from 42s. to 51s, a week in wages.

The total export of gold in the year 1900 was officially declared at 1,580,950 ounces.

Tasmania.—The smallest State in the Union had, as usual, a record of small interest. The Duke of York arrived at Hobart from New Zealand after a rough passage on July 3, and made a stay of three days in the island, being the recipient of very warm demonstrations from all classes of this most loyal and British of all the Colonies.

The new Governor, Sir Arthur Havelock, arrived on November 7, and was the object of special attraction on account of his name.

The Budget was delivered in the State Assembly on August 7. The returns of revenue were declared to be favourable, though a certain loss was expected through the operation of the Federal tariff, to be covered by a general income tax.


New Zealand, which decided to stand outside of the Australian Confederation as having interests of her own which are

New Zealand.Imperial Enthusiasm.

[461 remote from those of the neighbouring continent, showed by the record of the year that she was still in sympathy with her neighbours and quite as devoted to the mother country and the old flag notwithstanding her great advance towards democracy. Foremost among the Australian statesmen in responding to the call for armed assistance in the South African war was Mr. Seddon, the popular Prime Minister. By the acknowledgment of his opponents and rivals he greatly increased his influence in the country by the zeal and energy he displayed in the despatch of volunteers to South Africa. By the end of the year it was declared that no fewer than eight contingents had been equipped and sent to the seat of war, and Mr. Seddon's latest declaration was that more men were ready to be furnished if Great Britain required them. The time of the Colonists throughout the year was largely occupied in military preparations and patriotic ceremonies.

The visit of the Imperial soldiers, who arrived at Wellington on February 9, created much excitement and enthusiasm in all the cities. This was followed by the arrival of the Duke of York and the Royal yarty in the Ophir. His Royal Highness landed at Auckland on June 10, and thence his southward progress was one continued course of loyal demonstrations and rejoicings. The most striking of all the festive scenes was that which was enacted at Rotorua, on June 14, when the Maories danced the Great Haka, or national war dance, before the Duke and Duchess, their loyal enthusiasm exceeding in exuberance even that of the British inhabitants of the cities. After visiting Christchurch and Dunedin in the Southern Island the Duke of York took his departure from the latter port on June 27 for the Tasmanian capital.

The Commission appointed to inquire into the subject of confederation with Australia made their report on July 1. The Commissioners were unanimously against confederation, declaring that union with the Australian States would prejudicially affect the legislative independence of New Zealand, while it would give no advantages in respect to national defence.

The Parliament was opened on July 1. The Ministerial programme included several social and industrial reforms in the direction of the policy favoured by the Government. Among these was a bill for the regulation of the working hours in factories, banks, merchants' offices and other places of labour; and an increase in the salaries of Members of Parliament. In regard to the so-called conciliation tribunals some changes were adopted, the Prime Minister speaking strongly of some of the defects of the law as revealed in practice.

“The act was being run to death,” and had become odious to all sides. The bill amending the Arbitration Act was carried in the Assembly; some further changes were added by the Legislative Council and adopted by the Lower Chamber; and, finally, a new act was passed, which it was hoped would tend to remedy the existing

abuses, to the benefit of trade and without injury to the labourer.

The Referendum Bill, after passing the Assembly, was rejected by the Legislative Council by a majority of 29 to i.

Mr. Seddon, the Prime Minister, in a speech at Hokitika, spoke strongly in favour of preferential duties on goods imported from Great Britain.

The financial statement, which was delivered in the Assembly on August 17, showed that the revenue for the year ending June 30 was 5,906,0001., the expenditure 5,479,0001., and the increase of revenue in the year 272,0001. The public debt had increased by 1,627,0001.

The penny postage was adopted by the New Zealand Government, leading to some friction with the Australian States, where it was not yet introduced.

Among the measures taken by the Government in furtherance of its policy of State ownership of property was a provision for a State-owned coal mine.

There was a heated debate in the House (Sept. 26) on an item for granting a sum of 2601. to the Australian Review of Reviews. The Opposition urged that this was a subvention in aid of the Government policy, while the Ministers alleged that the sum was well spent as an advertisement for the Colony. Mr. W. T. Stead, who was revealed as a part proprietor of the Australian Review of Reviews, which is strongly Imperialist and in favour of the war, as well as of the English Review of Reviews, which was notoriously pro-Boer, subsequently returned the money.

There was a unanimous feeling in Parliament, reflecting the opinion of all classes of the community, in favour of the Imperial policy of a vigorous prosecution of the war and of sympathy with the mother country against the attacks of the home and foreign pro-Boers.

Severe earthquake shocks were felt throughout the islands on November 19, the centre of the disturbance being Christchurch.

Fiji.— The agitation for union with New Zealand led to considerable local feeling. The Governor, Sir George O'Brien, strongly opposed the movement in some speeches which gave rise to considerable sensation on account of their violent language, and the charges brought forward against the New Zealand authorities, who were accused of trying to capture the islands with a view to making slaves of the natives. He threatened to deport Mr. Slade for saying publicly that the Fijians were “surrounded by a web of legislation which was the grave of all liberty."

The New Zealand Government complained of the Governor's language and attitude, and Sir George O'Brien ceased to be Governor in August.

The exports from the islands in 1900 were returned as of

« PreviousContinue »