Page images

The revenue to June 30, was 2,478,8111. against 2,754,7461. in the previous year.

Mr. Wainscott, late senior official assignee, was found guilty after trial of malversation and taking bribes.

Two justices of peace were removed from the bench for cruelty to natives on April 1.

The Legislative Assembly rejected One Man One Vote by a majority of 17 to 10.

'Sir John Forrest delivered his Budget speech on September 27. He declared the colony to be recovering from the temporary depression. The depression he attributed to the over-capitalisation of companies, laying the blame on British promoters. He estimated the revenue for the coming year at 2,795,4901. Among the public works to be undertaken was one for the harbour of Fremantle, which was intended to be the port of arrival and departure for the steamers in place of Albany.

A great convention of miners was held at Coolgardie on December 14, between sixty and seventy delegates being present, at which the resolutions were in favour of the separation of the south-eastern district from the colony.

The cats released in the interior for the purpose of keeping down the rabbit plague were reported to have eaten the rabbits, but the native dogs were eating the cats.

The estimated population of the colony on June 30 was 168,461.

Tasmania.—The Federal Enabling Bill passed through both Houses of Parliament on July 7. The popular vote on the bill, 13,021 in favour and 750 against, shows that Tasmania was almost unanimous in support of the unionist cause.

The Hare system of voting, by which minorities are represented, which had been in use in the two large towns of Hobart and Launceston, was, after a lengthened discussion, extended to the whole colony on September 24.

The Parliament was opened on May 30.

A resolution in favour of female suffrage was carried in the Assembly.

A Ministerial crisis took place over the affair of Captain Miles, the Minister of Lands, who was reported (Oct. 3) by a select committee as having been interested in tenders which it was his duty to examine and receive. Mr Bird, leader of the Opposition, moved a vote of censure on the Government, which was carried by one vote (Oct. 6). This led to the resignation of Sir Edward Braddon and his colleagues.

A new Ministry was formed on October 8 with Mr. B. S. Bird as Premier and Treasurer; Mr. N. E. Lewis, AttorneyGeneral and Minister of Defence; Mr. Collins, Chief Secretary; and Mr Mulcahy, Minister of Lands and Mines.

New Zealand.The federation movement, from which New Zealand had stood apart, began to spread in this colony. A meeting was held at Auckland in the beginning of the year, at which a resolution was passed that the time had arrived when New Zealand ought to join in the scheme of Australian confederation, and a Federal League was formed. A petition was afterwards presented to Parliament praying that the question of confederation be submitted to the people. The Premier, Mr. Seddon expressed the opinion that he was ready to entertain the question as soon as the popular will was declared.

At a public meeting held on February 11 Mr. Seddon declared that the Old Age Pensions Bill had been a great success.

The cost to the public was no more than 150,0001, a year. He claimed that the passing of the measure had advertised the colony, and shown what it was doing in the interests of humanity.

New Zealand was much concerned in the troubles in Samoa. The Government offered the imperial authorities a battalion of volunteers for service with the British and American forces in the islands. The troops were got ready to embark at a word from the Imperial Government.

At a meeting held at Auckland on May 18 Mr. Seddon stated that the revenue was 5,186,4281. Nearly all the items showed an increase on the estimates. The expenditure of the year was 4,888,0001. The public debt had increased by 2,000,0001., of which 500,0001. were incurred through advances

to settler Parliament wamoved by Ca

The Parliament was opened on June 23. The usual vote of want of confidence, moved by Captain Russell, was rejected by 7 votes on September 28.

Mr. Seddon made his Budget speech as Treasurer on August 1. He claimed a surplus of 496,0001., announcing further loans to the extent of 1,000,0001. He said: “The good times we are now enjoying are real. There have been no booms or undue inflation. The colony's prosperity is founded on a sure and solid basis.”

The session was closed on October 24, and the Parliament expired by effluxion of time on December 11.

The general elections, to the public surprise as well as to , his own, resulted in the increase of Mr. Seddon's majority, which at the close of the polls rose to 34. This result was attributed to the publicans' and the Catholic votes being cast solid for the Government, while the Labour vote had slightly increased. The Prohibitionists voted against the Government.

A dispute with the Austrian Government was one of the novel incidents of the year. Austrian immigrants had recently been attracted to the North Island by the profits made in the digging of Kauri gum. It was an industry which had been unremunerative in the hands of native diggers, but that did not prevent the Government from opposing the introduction of the foreign adventurers, who worked more cheaply and were content with smaller returns. A correspondence with

the Austrian Government led to the stoppage of this class of foreign immigrants.

Sir Robert Stout, once a leading politician and opponent of Mr. Seddon, was appointed Chief Justice in place of Sir John Prendergast, who resigned.

The Colonial Registrar-General estimated the total wealth of the colony in this year at 252,000,0001., of which the property owned by private individuals was over 200,000,0001.

New Zealand was not behind her Australian sisters in zeal for the imperial cause. The enthusiasm aroused by the war in South Africa was quite as ardent in Auckland and in Wellington as in Sydney or Melbourne, and the offers of military assistance were no less liberal or spontaneous. A New Zealand contingent was despatched to the Cape of Good Hope in November to take part in the war against the Boers, amidst the applause of all classes of colonists, including the Maoris. Mr. Seddon himself was conspicuous for the patriotic fervour of his language in referring to England's call for the help of her colonies.

Fiji.—The year was one of great prosperity for Fiji. The colony was progressing steadily, with an ever-growing commerce and an increase in all the branches of industry. The total revenue for 1898 was 94,1641., being nearly 20,0001. above the expenditure. Nothing happened to disturb the public tranquillity in what is claimed to be the healthiest of all British tropical possessions. An enumeration of the people gave a total of 3,927 Europeans, with 12,320 Indians, subjects of her Majesty. The indigenous population, as everywhere in the South Seas, was slowly declining.

Polynesia.—The outbreak of a fresh civil war in Samoa, a recrudescence of the old quarrel between Mataafa and the rightful King, Malietooa, was the principal event of the year, causing very serious trouble and threatening a breach of the tripartite arrangement under which the islands are governed. A decision given by the Chief Justice, Mr. Chambers, in favour of the son of Malietooa as King was violently resented by the partisans of Mataafa. Severe fighting took place between the adherents of the respective parties, in the neighbourhood of Apia, the Mataafans being in the majority. The English and Americans sided with Malietooa, who had undoubtedly the best right to the throne according to Samoan law and custom, a right affirmed by the only competent legal authority, the Chief Justice. The Germans as before espoused the cause of Mataafa, although refraining from any active participation in the hostilities. A party of blue-jackets from the English and American men of war were landed to preserve the peace. They were attacked by a greatly superior force of the native insurgents, and forced to retreat to their boats, with the loss of two American and one English officer killed and many men wounded. The British and American ships bombarded Åpia on March 25

—the German Consul protesting and publicly asserting his support of the insurgent chief Mataafa.

The result of the controversy was an agreement between the three Powers for the appointment of a joint commission to inquire into the condition of Samoa and the working of the Treaty. The High Commissioner arrived at Samoa on May 13. Since then the destinies of Samoa were settled by a treaty between the three Powers, by which the islands, with the exception of Tutuila, in which the Americans have the naval port of Pago Pago, were ceded to Germany-Great Britain receiving a compensation in being acknowledged to be sole mistress of the Tongas, and in other ways. Equal liberty of trade with Samoa was one of the stipulations.

Upon a report that the Germans contemplated the seizure of one of the islands in satisfaction of a debt due to a local German trader, H.M.S. Tauranga visited Tonga. Her commander succeeded in making a treaty with the King, whereby his Majesty undertook not to cede any portion of his dominion to any foreign Power. Since then the over-lordship of Great Britain over the islands, about which there never was any question, so far as the Tongans were concerned, has been formally acknowledged. Thus one cause of future trouble in these seas, which was a source of anxiety to the Australian colonies was happily removed.

After three years of inaction the great volcano of MaunaLoa in Hawaii suddenly, on July 4, began to show signs of unrest. Its irruption was accompanied by a violent earthquake, by which 200 people lost their lives.

The appointment of a new High Commissioner in British New Guinea, and the recognition of British rights over the Solomon Archipelago were among the chief incidents in the history of British Polynesia.



IN 1899.

JANUARY 1. The Spanish Captain-General of Cuba formally delivered the control of the island into the hands of General Brooke, and the United States flag hoisted on the public buildings.

- The New Year honours included the elevation of Lord Cromer to the rank of viscount-jour new peerages, four baronetcies, and numerous other distinctions.

- In Samoa severe fighting took place between the forces of Malietoa and Mataafa, the rival claimants to the throne, in which the latter were successful. Malietoa, who had been recognised by the Chief Justice, took refuge on a British ship. Mataafa was supported by the Germans.

2. A farewell dinner given to the Earl of Elgin at Calcutta by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce, at which the retiring Viceroy reviewed the financial policy of his Governorship.

- Mr. T. T. Bucknill, Q.C., M.P., appointed judge of the High Court in the room of Sir H. Hawkins resigned.

- A gale which raged for three days with little intermission over Western Europe, accompanied by rain, snow and thunder, did enormous damage to property on land and sea, especially in the English Channel, and on the Welsh coast.

3. A duel took place at Buda-Pesth between Baron Banffy, the Hungarian Premier, and Herr Horansky, the leader of the Opposition. Four shots were exchanged at twenty paces, but without result.

- Thirty Danes expelled from North Schleswig by order of the German Government, in consequence of their employers having attended a meeting addressed by the Danish deputy to the Reichsrath, Herr Hanssen.

- The German Imperial Cabinet issued an order substituting German words in lieu of corresponding foreign terms hitherto in use in the Army, which had existed since the time of Frederick the Great, when the Prussian troops were largely officered by foreigners, and the word of command given in French.

« PreviousContinue »