THE NEWS LETTER OF THE AUSTRALASIA.
MELBOURNE VICTORIA, AUGUST, 1860.
[Drawing on the left hand side of a lady riding a camel.]
While everything else during the month has been flat, stale and unprofitable, a considerable amount of factitious excitement has been generated by the Land Bill. After the first alteration of the measure by the Council, the Assembly went through it again, agreeing to the minor emendations, but rejecting the more important. The excuse by which the ministry resumed office, that the Council were prepared to make important concessions, proved to be unfounded, and in passing the bill through committee, all the amendments of the lower house were rejected. Whereupon the ministry grew indignant, and sent the Bill back again to the Council with the threat that if the Upper House would not accept the measure, they would govern without their assistance, and bring the old Orders in Council into effect by a resolution of the Lower House.
A sort of unholy alliance has been entered into between the ministers and the Convention, through which a majority is obtained in the Assembly; but the proceedings of Mr. Nicholson and his colleagues are looked upon with great surprise by all persons of moderate views, and there is a strong feeling that their unconstitutional conduct will cost them their seats.
The policy pursued by the Government in reference to the sale of the last Three Millions of our securities has been loudly and generally condemned everywhere except in the Legislature. The whole of the official correspondence between the Government and the six negotiating Banks has been published, and does not tend to allay this feeling. The first series of facts set out in that correspondence may be thus briefly enumerated:- First, the intimation of the Government to the Railway Loan Agents, that £3,000,000 would be required for railway purposes in 1860, exclusive of any amount that might be raised before the advices in which this intimation was conveyed reached London. Second, that the Railway Loan Agents were immediately on the receipt of those advices to advertise in the usual way, that, until some day to be fixed by them early in April, tenders would be received for all or any portion of that
£3,000,000, with an assurance that no further portion of the loan should be submitted in 1860. Third, that it as left to discretion of the Railway Loan Agents to say, on the receipt of those advices, whether they would immediately advertise the whole of the £3,000,000 for sale in April, they strictly obeyed the instructions of the Government, although contrary to their own convictions, and without sufficient data, as they themselves confessed, whereon to found a correct opinion as to the probable success, or failure, of the proposed negotiations. But the correspondence sets out a second series of facts, equally important and equally adverse to the Government. These facts are as follows: - First, although the Government said 3,000,000 would be required for railway purposes in 1860, and instructed the Railway Loan Agents to advertise that amount for sale in April, the Government either did not keep faith with them, or with the public, in forwarding debentures to London to that amount. Second, this arose partly from some blundering in the clerical department of the Treasury, as appears from the ignorance of the Government at that time, as to the amount of debentures in the hands of the Railway Loan Agents for sale, as appears on a comparison of that letter with Mr. Larnach's letter of February the 14th, 1860. Third, the Government appeared entirely ignorant in their letter of the 17th of March, in what the Railway Loan Agents had done on the 12th of January, in advertising the £3,000,000 for sale in April, and in their letter of the 17th May, state, in reply to Mr. McArthur, that the arrangements made by the Railway Loan Agents for disposing of the whole amount of debentures then in their hands, namely, £2,650,000 in April, were quite satisfactory to the Government. And fourth, the Government do not even now dare to express their disapproval, in so many words, of any part of those arrangements, however much Mr. McCulloch may wish to convey an imputation of censure, by a circumlocutory implication, in his letter of the 29th of June. From all this it is demonstrably evident, that whatever errors have been committed in conducting this large transaction, they have certainly not been committed by the Banks, in their capacity as agents for the negotiation and management of the loan. Throughout, they have implicitly obeyed the instructions of the Government. And they have never shrunk, as opportunity afforded, from remonstrating with the Government on their ill-advised courses. The final conclusion to which we are driven by this correspondence is, that what the Government intended, both by advertising the loan three months before hand, and by keeping the limit a secret from their bankers, as a capital stroke of financial policy, has turned out a disgraceful failure, entailing a present loss of £150,000 on the colony, and ensuring a prospective loss, beyond the power of calculation, by causing our stock to rank lower on the London Share List than any other Australian securities.
The revenue returns for the year and quarter ending 30th June last, have been published and disclose the following facts: 1. The total revenue for the quarter was £885,215 17s.3d. as against £858,853,13s.9d. for the
June quarter of 1859. This shows an increase of £26,362 3s.6d. 2. The total revenue for the year was £3,287,505,18s.4d., as against £3,032,790 11s.5d. for the previous year. This shows an increase of £254, 715 6s.11d. 3. The detailed tables show that both on the quarter and the year, there has been a decrease in the Customs revenue, and a very large increase in the Land revenue. The Customs have declined by £38,796 during the shorter, and by £73,323 during the longer period; whilst the Land revenue has been steadily kept up to close upon the aggregate of a million sterling per annum.
Represents drays crossing a creek, as rivulets are termed in Australia. The badness of our bush tracks is never brought more prominently to the
notice of the traveller than when a creek has to be to be crossed, and when, as in the engraving, the stream is running pretty strongly, the difficulties of the bullock-driver, become considerably increased. Frequently the dray has to be unloaded, and one or two trips taken, before the obstacle is surmounted. Crossing a creek is therefore an event which breaks, not always agreeably, the monotony of bush-travelling.
JOURNAL OF THE GOLD-FIELDS.
The quantity of gold brought to town by escort during the month of July, was 193,811 ozs. as compared with 227, 795 ozs, during the corresponding period of last year; the total quantity received, during the first seven months of 1860 and 1859 being 1,155,630 ozs as compared with 1,294,846 ozs. By a recent Government return, the number of men actually employed in mining is as follows:- Alluvial: Europeans, 41,250; Chinese, 14,350:- Quartz: Europeans, 7,889; Chinese, 35. Grand total: Europeans, 49,439: Chinese, 14.385.
The same reason by which we have previously accounted for the [indecipherable] in the yield - the want of population - still continues, and until we have a very largely increased immigration, we cannot expect any other than a diminished yield of gold. Several of the mining companies have got to work with satisfactory results, while others have not yet completed their preliminary arrangements, and a few are being wound up.
A new gold-field was reported some time ago as having been discovered at the Goulburn River and the locality has since been visited by an officer of police, who has reported very promisingly of its richness. The country papers say that the reported discovery is creating great excitement on some of our gold-fields, and large numbers of persons have started for the rush. The residents in the locality say that they have no doubt but that the new field presents attractions as great as those offered by any district in the locality, but caution new comers against setting their expectations too high.
The accounts received from the Snowy River, which was once thought to be teeming with the precious metal, have not been of such description as to confirm former reports. Many of
our Victorian miners who have visited the locality have returned frost-bitten, disgusted with their luck, and con