NEWS LETTER OF AUSTRALASIA.
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA, DECEMBER 1862.
JOURNAL OF POLITICS.
PARLIAMENT is now in high session. All the preliminary business has been disposed of and the Estimates are being proceeded with at a rapid rate. The estimated revenue for 1863 is L2,945,000; and the estimated expenditure, L2,003,423. But there is a balance of L56,958.10s. 1d. to be taken over from 1862, and this leaves a probable balance of L9,134,19s.9d. on account of 1863. There was a two nights' debate on the Treasurer's financial statement, but no amendment was proposed. So far, Ministers have had it all their own way, except with regard to one or two small items on the Estimates.
The despatch [dispatch] of the Duke of Newcastle to His Excellency, on the Governor's Salary Reduction BI
ill, was laid on the table of the House on Thursday, November the 27th, together with a memorandum agreed to at a Cabinet meeting held in the office of the Chief Secretary on the 20th of May, declaratory of the reasons of Ministers for the adoption of the Bill. Ministers state that public policy demanded such a Bill. It was introduced at the most convenient time - the altered circumstances of the country justify it - the unanimous assent of the Legislature confirms it - the most perfect agreement prevails in reference to it. Such are their chief reasons. To these, His Grace the Duke of Newcastle does not appear to have attached much weight. It proposed to reduce th salary of the Governor, with allowances, from L.15,000 to L7,000. To this he could not advise Her Majesty to assent. But his chief reason for the disallowance of the Bill was, that it was unattended with the "safe-guards' to be fund in the Constitution Act, - that of requiring the assent of a majority of both Houses before any further alteration could be made. His Excellency's despatch [dispatch] on the Bill when sent home for Her Majesty's approval, has not yet been made public; nor have Ministers yet declared their policy with regard to the general question.
Ministers propose to apply for power to raise a loan of L250,000 this session for the construction of three new Lunatic Asylums. The proposition has not yet been formally made, nor does it meet with much favour in-doors or out-of-doors. It will, therefore, probably be abandoned. In any case, it is not likely to be carried. The main objection is to all further loans for the present. But there is this special one, to which much importance is attached, namely, that it is bad in principle to anticipate the future revenue by burdening it with the cost of works which should be provided for by votes from year to year. If money is to be borrowed for the erection of Lunatic Asylums, for what other description of pubic works, it is asked, may we not also borrow?
Among other measures now before Parliament, is one for the extension of local self-government. It is styled [on] the Local Government, or District Councils Bill, and its object is to throw upon the various districts the management of their own affairs, which has hitherto been undertaken by the general government at great inconvenience and cost. It has, moreover, been made a source of great corruption, and matter of loud and long continued complaint. But the Bill is so cumbrous a one as not to afford hope of its passing the Assembly without much difficulty, and its adoption by the Council in its present form is more than doubtful. The principle of the Bill is good, but it is chargeable with much of
that attempt at over-legislation which renders by far the greater proportion of our measures so exceedingly faulty.
It was the general belief at the opening of Parliament, that this session would have been a brief one, but not, certainly, if a tithe of the business already before the Assembly is to be got through, to say nothing of measures yet to be introduced.
Cape Schanck, of which we give an illustration, is situated on the north side of Bass's Straits, about seventy miles from Melbourne, and forms the southern extremity of the peninsula which separates Western Port from Port Phillip. The appearance of the Cape is prominent, an forms an excellent mark for ships going into Western Port, of which it forms the west side of the principal [principle] entrance, but as there are many breakers and shoals on that part of the coast, it is considered by mariners necessary to give the Cape a wide berth. Vessels coming into Port Phillip Hight [height?] are generally guided by the Cape as to their safety. At a distance Cape Schank [Schanck] presents a cliffy head with Pulpit Rock towering high above the level of the sea, and its geological formation exhibits a series of sand hills and rough fossiliferous stone.
JOURNAL OF THE GOLD-FIELDS.
The gold-fields news is rather more favourable. At several of the gold-fields there have been new rushes, and from all the accounts are good. The chief drawback is the failing supply of water which is to be expected at this season of the year.
The total shipments of gold last week, were 34,399 ozs. The total shipments for the year now amount to 1,655,085 ozs., exclusive of 220,454 ozs. from New Zealand, or 1,945,539 ozs. with it, against 1,933,502 ozs. for 1861. This shows an increase for the corresponding period of the two years or 12,000 ozs., in favour of 1862. There will not, however, be much more exported this year. It will be held over for next year, on account of the alteration in the export duty, which is now 2s. per oz., but will only be 1s.0d. on and after the 1st of January, 1863. The total brought by escort from our gold-fields, from September the 12th to December 6th inclusive, was 287,653 ozs.
From New Zealand the accounts are decidedly more favourable, but probably a little exaggerated. Further discoveries are reported at a short distance from the Dunstan or Clutha goldfields, on the banks of the Ara, one of the numerous rivers or streams in that district. Mr. John Callighan and Mr. William brought into Dunedin on the 26th [?] of November, forty-eight pounds of gold thence. This, they say, is the produce of three weeks' labour. The excitement is great, and there has been a considerable rush thither. Other accounts give their find at two hundred and sixty ozs. only, with the sale of about fifty ozs. for current wants. A practical miner, and a special reporter of one of the Otago papers, gives the following account of a recent visit to the locality of the new discover : - "I crossed the river (Clutha) near the junction with the Kawarau, and followed up the west bank. From their junction this branch runs through extensive flats. Table Ranges, with gravelly terraces, intersected these flats. Some parts of this formation are likely to be auriferous, but the working of them is not at present probable. Better means of getting timber, and a supply of provisions are required. It is a sluicing country, and would entail an outlay of capital, or large co-operative bodies of miners to get sluice heads of water to work effectively I followed and crossed these Table Ranges till I reached the Cardrona Creek. I found 1000 persons here on last Wednesday (18th November). The prospectors had then obtained, as far as I could find out, about three pounds of weight of gold. No other persons had then done anything. All seemed to be in a desponding kind of mood, though they did not blame the prospectors, who they thought had only dropped on a patch. I think from the observations I made of the surrounding country, that gold is to be found, but that it will require perseverance. I would not advise any one to go there, though very rich patches might at any moment turn up. I think it is an auriferous country, but that the prospectors' finds are of a peculiar character. Heavy gold like theirs might turn up any day. They have so far found it on a land slip I think good gold must be found somewhere about this place, but would go farther backwards from the creek. I will not state in which direction as it might mislead people. If not successful elsewhere, I shall try this portion of the country. Leaving this quarter, I followed up the Cardrona Creek on the right hand. it splits two streams, about ten miles up from the right hand branch till