Australian Access Federation

You are here: Home Corpora Corpus of Oz Early English 4-126 (Text)

4-126 (Text)

Item metadata
addressee author,male,Pulsford, E. ,un
Newspaper Article
Word Count :
Plaint Text :
Public Written
Newspapers & Broadsides
Clark, 1975
Document metadata

4-126-plain.txt — 15 KB

File contents

Now let us took at the pastoral industry. Since 1875 the number of sheep in New South Wales has increased by 12.5 millions, and the number in Victoria has decreased by one million. On the other hand we have 14 million less cattle and Victoria has a quarter of a million more. On the basis of these figures, and by running in some gain in horses and pigs, our friend finds himself able to declare that "at the present rate of progress on this side of the Murray and retrogression on the other side, the difference now existing will before many years be removed." Here again the genius of the novelist has been well used. The idea of "retrogression" in the position of the pastoral industry in this colony has not yet been entertained by us, nor have we contemplated the likelihood of Victoria occupying as important a position as our own in this line, but our friend is quite equal to the call upon his ingenuity. He says, in effect, "Look here, I reckon that one bullock is worth thirteen sheep; therefore, Miss New South Wales, if you have increased your stock of sheep by 124 millions, you are worse off because you possess 14 millions less of cattle." One is inclined to quote Lord Dundreary, and say that this is a thing "no fellah can understand." In 1885 our flocks and herds had suffered much by drought, and even then their value was many millions ahead of the Victorians, and all authorities on the subject look for a very great increase in the pastoral industry in this colony within two or three years. During the period 1875 to 1885, both years inclusive, we exported, chiefly to Victoria and Queensland, sheep and cattle to the value of 4.5 millions in excess of the value of similar imports - a thing to be remembered in connection with our pastoral industry. We are told that the value of stock in Victoria is 10.5 millions, against only 19 millions here, but I cannot accept the valuations of our friend. If I take the valuation of Mr. Bruce, the inspector of stock, instead of 19 millions our figures would be 21 millions; if I take that given me by Mr. Abbot, of Messrs. Mort & Co., Limited, it would be 22 millions. I venture to think none but a novelist would suggest the possibility of Victoria occupying as important a position as New South Wales in the pastoral industry.
Our friend now travels a little further, and says: "There are a variety of minor industries, which with us, as the figures will show, have been built up by our policy, while they have almost died out in New South Wales." He means "died out" as far as export trade is concerned. Now, what are these industries? Cheese, bacon, and hams, and candles are the principal. I think you will agree with me that the novelist of the Age, in the expressive language of Artemus Ward, has here made a capital "goak," for he points the finger of scorn at certain industries as freetrade failures, which are really industries that we have permitted to obtain whatever blessings protection can bestow. 

Following my leader, it is now my duty to draw your attention to the manufacturing industries of the two colonies. That the Freetrade Association should have been so rash as to lay profane hands on Victorian manufactures is bitterly resented. Our friend speaks of "this precious association," and says that "the ignorance of the people (of New South Wales) is so far imposed upon, and we may add relied upon, that they are told freetrade New South Wales is overtaking protected Victoria in manufacturing industry, every year." So greatly has this assertion affected the Age writer that nothing less than a very big word will suffice to relieve his feelings, so we are told that it is "entirely Munchausenish," and it takes quite a good portion of a "yard of talk" before his feathers become sufficiently smoothed to enable him to take hold of the subject itself. "Taking," says our friend, "such material as is at our disposal the result will leave no doubt as to the relative position of the two countries." Then he dips into figures and he comes to the conclusion that there is a conspiracy in New South Wales which aims to hide from the world the deplorable state of our manufacturing industry. He does not use the word conspiracy, but he says that "it is clear that the authorities of New South Wales are determined that nothing shall be done, so far as they are concerned, to furnish reliable data upon which to base a comparison" in manufacturing industry. Now what is the ground on which this pleasant charge of deliberately hiding the truth is fixed? It is because the return of works and manufactories has been made up in a most stupid manner - and probably no man in the colony has so severely condemned it as myself - the return has hitherto been made to include all the agricultural machines in use in the colony, which of course is ridiculous, since a machine cannot be called a manufactory. But as a supplementary return is also given from which we can gather the exact number of "manufactories, works, &c," without the addition of these machines, I rather fear that some doubt attaches to the honesty of the indignation of our good friend, and that he does not like to find that after all in 1885 there were 3463 manufactories in New South Wales against only 2828 in Victoria. Well, all I can say is, that a result such as this is very much what freetraders would expect. We always say that protection promotes monopoly. Will anyone dare to tell me that in a colony where a man has to pay 25 per cent. more for machinery than it is worth that it is as easy for him to start a factory as in a colony where freetrade allows every beginner to buy his machinery at the lowest price at which it is obtainable?  As the capital of the majority of people is small, the proportion of people who can find money to pay for duties as well as for material, cannot be SO large in Victoria as the proportion of people in New South Wales who have to pay for material only. Therefore, I accept the return as satisfactory, and as proving yet again the benefits of freetrade. There are one or two facts in connection with manufactories in New South Wales that ought to be peculiarly gratifying to a democratic community. It is the laudable ambition of workmen to become masters and have business of their own, and it will be seen by the figures that have been given, as well as by the diagram, that in New South Wales there are eight masters to every hundred employés, whereas the number is only six in Victoria. In other words, the prospects of a man becoming his own master are one-third, or thirty-three per cent, greater in the freetrade than in the protectionist colony. The reason of this seems to be obvious; it results from the greater cheapness of plant and machinery already referred to, and of course, also, to the greater cheapness of the materials for manufacturing. It is to be noted further, that, during the last ten years, for every five manufactories or works opened in Victoria more than twelve have been opened in New South Wales.
The novelist of the Age is not willing that we should think manufactories in New South Wales can possibly be as important as they are in Victoria, and he quotes a paragraph from Hayter to convince us that nothing but important establishments are counted in Victoria. Now, I may say that I have taken the trouble to look through Hayter's last list, and I find therein enumerated no less than 21 different classes of manufactories in which the average number of hands employed is less than six. The totals of these 21 classes are 341 manufactories and 1535 hands. The average employment in these 341 factories - so called - is only four-and-a-half hands. In view of this fact, we may dismiss the idea that the Victorian manufactories that find record are all extensive establishments. There is no doubt that many of our establishments are equally as small as those in Victoria to which I have referred, but as evidence that some care is taken, I may refer to the fact that the return relating to boot. manufactories expressly stales that those enumerated are those "employing not less than six hands." Under these circumstances, I do not feel under any necessity to repudiate our own statistics on this point. Amongst the tables will be found one giving the details of the small Victorian manufactories.

I may remark that, though our fined of the Age generally quotes figures for the year ending March 1885, he has given the figures in several cases for the year ending March, 1886, showing that he had the latest figures by him.  I may, therefore, point out that he has omitted to give us any explanation of certain facts. In the last year under record the total increase in the hands employed in Victorian manufactories, &c., was only 231, representing a far less percentage than that of the increase of population. Further, during the same year many of the industries most specially protected distinctly fell off, there being a reduction in the hands employed in woollen mills, mills, soap and candle works, furniture works boot, clothing and hat manufactories, and others. Our good friend might have favoured us with some explanation of these reductions that have taken place under the splendid policy of protection. However, we have still some good things put before us. One of the statements he honours us with is to this effect - that in 1865, before protection got a Start, there were only 803 factories, and that if breweries, flour mills, brickyards, tanneries, and other "primitive works" were deducted there would only remain 36 factories "to represent the small Struggling attempts at finding employment for our population at trades to which they had been used and educated;" and then he tells us that Victorian manufacturing industry, as it at present stands has all sprung from those "36 infant industries." That is a magnificent hit, for it hides from our view the fact that the present statistics also include, and are mainly formed by, those aforesaid primitive works, which have increased very largely. Then, we are informed, that the Victorian manufacturers are turning out goods to the value of 24 million pounds, which represents "what protection has done for the colony, and what our people owe to those who, through bitter opposition, malignant abuse and persistent misrepresentation, initiated and still support the system." Now, you know, when a gardener sets out a delicate plant, he often surrounds it by more hardy plants, in order to shelter it. Let me tell you that the quotation I have just given contains a very delicate plant, and that is the reason why a number of statements are placed around it, which I venture to describe as of a thoroughly hardy character. In the first place,'we are told that the Victorian protective system has produced the whole of the 24 million pounds worth of manufactures You may judge for yourselves how far this is correct when I tell you that the value of all the gas produced, all the wool washed, all the bricks made, all the beer brewed, all the wood sawn, all the tallow rendered, all the meat preserved, not to name crowds of other things, is included. In the second place, the list of industries just given would prove the term "manufactures" has been strained to include goods that do not naturally come under that heading. In the third place, no country gains by manufactures more than the increased value put upon raw materials by manufacturing processes. This increased value is placed by Hayter at £6,125,000 for 1885. He has calculated on the basis of the census year, adding 14 per cent., to correspond with the increase of establishments.  I think it would have been allowable to add 30 per cent, the increase in the number of hands employed, it being the fairer test of production; this would give £6,985,000 as the result of Victorian manufacturing. In the fourth place, the proportion of this gain that flows from industries directly benefited by protection probably does not exceed, and may not reach, 3 million pounds, the bulk of which would, doubtless, - as in New South Wales - have been obtained without protection. Three millions is a very different matter from 24 millions. I am utterly at a loss to know on what figures, or on whose authority, this sum of "24 millions" is given. Certainly Mr. Hayter does not endorse the statement. This sum is very far in advance of the real amount, and ought not to have been given without the least shadow of data.

Bearing in mind the great boast of success in manufacturing industry, we naturally look for some details showing how the Victorian manufacturer has routed the foreigner, but here even the splendid audacity of the novelist fails him, and we have to look outside his articles for information to guide us. Strange to say, the Victorian Customs returns show, that the Victorian manufacturer is, in spite of protection, being beaten by the foreigner. Between 1881 and 1885, the imports of woollen, cotton, and similar manufactures, increased 16 per cent.; whilst in manufactures of metals the increase was 43 per cent. Two years ago the Australasian Trade Review, referring to the boasts of protectionists, prepared a table which showed that in 1881 Victoria imported £4,472,000 worth of manufactured goods in excess of her exports of such goods, and that in 1884 this excess had grown to £5,953,000. In face of figures such as these, does vapour or reason predominate in the talk we hear about the independence of Victoria in the matter of manufactures? In this colony we are perpetually being told that we ought to manufacture our own woollens. What is the result of the Victorian effort in manufacturing woollens? Simply that out of every £10 worth of woollens consumed in Victoria, £8 worth are imported. These are facts that might be thought vital to the subject, but however large a space they may occupy in the mind of our good friend, they occupy no space in his articles. He does, perhaps, all he thinks necessary when he deals with a few articles in which Victoria has a small export trade, and he calls on his readers to witness how splendidly they compare with the "beggarly and declining exports" of New South Wales. I may say that the articles quoted are principally those shipped under draw-back, and that after the exposures last year of the frauds attending this system, the shipments fell off largely. The figures our friend gave for 1885 he cannot repeat for 1886.  Before leaving the subject of manufactures, I may give one instance of the avidity with which Protectionists in Victoria seize on and circulate any reports about declining manufactures in New South Wales. It has been gravely stated that the number of distilleries has fallen in New South Wales from 52 to two. Wishing to get to the bottom of this report I interviewed Mr. Barney, the chief inspector of refineries, &c. In reply to my questions, he said: "We never had more than one or two distilleries in New South Wales;" and then he explained that there was a law permitting wine producers to keep stills to produce sufficient spirits to fortify their wines. The explanation of the falling-off seems, then, to resolve itself into the simple fact that these stills had, until the error was discovered, appeared in the statistics as distilleries. Now that they are removed from the statistics, in which they ought never to have appeared, all Victoria is asked to take the enormous falling-off in the number of distilleries in New South Wales as a warning of the fate that sooner or later must overwhelm Freetrade industries.