THE NEWS LETTER OF AUSTRALASIA
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA, JULY, 1860.
JOURNAL OF POLITICS
When we last wrote, the colony was in the throes of a ministerial crisis, from which it has since emerged, in a somewhat ignominious manner. The Ministry tendered their resignation in consequence of the Council having carried amendments in the Land Bill which swept away the Conventionist theories on uniform price and deferred payments. An adjournment of the Houses for a week followed, during which time all sorts of obscure negotiations between the Ministry and the leaders of the Opposition in the Council were reported to be in progress. An energetic effort was also made by some of the extreme Conventionist party in the Assembly to get up a popular agitation out of doors, in support of the Ministry against the Council. But the attempt proved a dead failure. Two or three mob meetings were got up, but nothing came of them save windy speeches and foolish resolutions "carried by acclamation." The general feeling pervading the community was, that the Council had acted very rightly, and that any attempt to coerce or bully them into compliance with the impracticable demands of the Conventionists, was only worthy of the severest reprobation. Meanwhile, the Council simply stood upon their dignity, disowned any direct responsibility of the kind spoken of by the Chief Secretary, and avowed their incompetency to undertake the formation of a new Government. The absence of Mr. O'Shanassy, who was on a short visit to Queensland, prevented that gentleman being sent for. The upshot was, that His Rxcellency wrote to Mr. Nicholson, requesting him to withdraw his resignation, and assuring him of the most friendly feelings on the part of the leading members of the Upper House. With this request, Mr. Nicholson and his colleagues felt it to be their duty to comply. Accordingly, on the 7th instant, the withdrawal of the resignations was formally announced to the two Houses. Thereupon ensured a very long and rather acrimonious discussion in the Assembly. Ministers were tauntingly challenged to give an intelligible reason either for their resigning or resuming office. But no such reason was forthcoming. The Chief Secretary contented himself with simply reiterating the facts, and denying that he made a compromise with any party. He had resigned because he had resigned ; and he had resumed office because His Excellency had requested him to do so. In fact, there had not really been a Ministerial resignation, but only a strike of Ministers, which had lasted just a week.
Since the re-installation of Ministers in their seats, the Land Bill has been disposed of by the Council. Some radical alterations have been made on the measure since it was received from the Assembly, and there is some reason to anticipate that these amendments will not be accepted by the other House. On the 8th instant His Excellency the Governor attended on the Legislative Council, and gave his assent to the following bills, passed by the Legislature: The National Bank Incorporation Act, the Registration Amendment Act, the Victorian Railway Act, the Melbourne and Geelong Railway Purchase and Incorporation Act, the Australasian Fire and Life Assurance Amendment Act.
The last few weeks have been signalized by some sweeping attacks made by the Ministry on their officials and contractors. We have already allaided to the charges made against Messrs. Cornish and Bruce for the manner in which the Railway works were being carried out. This ended in the substitution of Mr. Higinbotham for Mr. Darbyshire as engineer-in-chief of Vitorian railways. Next we had a violent diatribe by Mr. Francis of Messrs. De Pass, Raleigh and White, the contractors for the importation of railway plant. The firms in question had given the Government a bonus of £5000 for being allowed to act as its agents in procuring freight ; and from the investigations of a committee appointed by the Legislative Assembly, there is no doubt but that the rates charged by them were in excess of these usually paid. This they justify on the ground that such heavy articles as locomotives, steam hammers, and c., are necessarily exceptional. There is no doubt but that the charges brought against the contractors were much exaggerated. We have since had a speech from Mr. Nicholson, in which the premier stigmatized the conduct of the associated Banks in selling the debentures at the maximum as being dishonest, but this allegation has been retracted.
The Ministry have announced their intention of appointing an Agent General in England to look after colonial affairs, and there is some reason to believe that before long we shall have an extended scheme of immigration.
Represents View Point, Sandhurst, the entrance to the town from the Melbourne road. The houses show the style of architecture principally in favour on the gold-fields towns, from which our readers will perceive that the utile is considered to the utter repudiation of the foresession. The water-course covered by the bridge in the engraving, is the far-famed Bendigo Creek.
JOURNAL OF GOLD-FIELDS
The quantity of gold brought by escort from the mines during June, was 203,752 ounces, as compared with 234, 515 ounces in the corresponding period of last year. Our shipments show a still greater falling off, and only amount to 145, 409 ounces compared with 240,634 ounces in 1859.
It will be thus seen that the falling in the yield of gold, to which we have previously had to call the attention of our readers, still continues, and we fear that unless the people on our gold-fields receive considerable accessions to their numbers, the produce of 1860 will be less than that of 1859. The almost total cessation of immigration, and the inducement to the diggers to embark in more settles, though perhaps not more remunerative pursuits, is gradually diminishing the population on the mines. Much has been expected of the companies but scarcely any have yet completed their machinery and preliminary arrangements. there are no complaints of poverty among the miners; there is no diminution in the rate of wages. New gold-fields are being continually discovered ;The Ballaarat Star, speaking of the prospects of that field, says:- "With quartz companies dividends from £10 to £30 per man per week, and a yield of 3 dwts. per ton paying a remunerative wage after payment of expenses, there is really no practical limit to the calculation of returns available. With whole ranges and thats intersected at all points with gold bearing quartz, and with a yield of 3 dwts. per ton paying for working, even with our present imperfect appliances and knowledge, there seems to be every reason for supposing that, if our alluvial grounds are beginning to show signs of exhaustion, we have entered upon a fresh arena of mining industry, which will not be exhausted of its wealth for generations to come. As yet the operations of the small co-operative companies seem to pay best, while larger organisations are neither so popular nor so promising, Whatever may be the cause, the fact is palpable, that while companies of say twenty or thirty , or smaller numbers, manager to acquire machinery and to obtain excellent dividends, with shares rating high in the market, most of our large companies are not paying at all. Two elements in the constitution of these large joint-stock companies would seem pretty generally to be regarded as the principal drawbacks, as well to popularity as to remuneration - viz., the generally heavy expenses of the management, and the generally large proportion of the stock of the companies held as sleeping interests by a few promoters. The latter objection is one that of course is inseparable from the specific organisation in which the objection exists, but the former is one that seems curable, although perhaps with some difficulty. It is the more to be regretted that most of our large companies should be in this unpromising condition, as it is probable that eventually most of our mining operations will cease to be co-operative and will be constructed on the joint-stock principle, with boards of directors and salaried officer, directing hired or contract labour. But it is fair to assume that with our gradual development of improved machinery and operations generally, our plans of direction will be also more effective and economical, and therefore more satisfactory to capitalist."
Another large nugget has been found near Kingower, within one foot of the surface. Its weight after cleaning was
67 lb. 4 oz., and it measured a length of 18¼ inches; breadth 5½ inches thick. It is the largest nugget found in the Kingower district (famous for it large humps of gold), since the discovery of the famous Blanche Barkly nugget by Macoboy at McIntyre's. The luck finders stated that they have been working at Kingower the last twelve months, and have only obtained 13 dwts, of gold previous to dropping on this monster stroke of luck.
A nugget weighing 240 ozs. has been found near Castlemaine within the last day or two. The finders state that they discovered it within twenty feet of the 600 oz. nugget, but they refuse to give any more particular information.