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therefore of the Irish as a party to get the control of patronage into their own hands is very strong, and partly explains the solidity of the Irish vote. But the tie which binds the party together is more religious than political. The educated Irish, who unfortunately form an insignificant minority among their Australian compatriots, together with the few English Catholics, who in Australia are almost invariably men of the highest attainments and character, are of course in no degree influenced by the mere desire for power. They cannot, however, ignore the religious basis upon which their party rests. In every part of the world the Catholic Church is making an effort to obtain the control of primary instruction. In Australia this attempt has been for the present effectually foiled, and the wisest Catholics recognize that for the present at any rate it cannot succeed, while many of them are even being convinced that their fear of secular education was illfounded and their hostility mis-directed. Nevertheless, whatever may be the feelings of the laity, the priesthood cannot let the matter rest. They cannot, except in flagrant disobedience to their vows, assent to the education of the rising generation passing into other hands. For many years they kept up a vigorous assault upon the national system of education. Within the last five years, however, they have changed their tactics, and for many elections past the Education Act has not been mentioned. This policy of ominous silence has at last attracted general attention. It has been noticed that the Irish clergy—for in Australia at the present day the Catholic clergy are mostly Irish, and of a very different stamp from the men who laboured to assist Bishops "Wilson and Ullathorne, or that powerful and most gifted son of the Church, Archbishop Vaughan— are as active, and the Irish vote is cast as solidly, as in the most stirring times of previous contests.
It has been noticed, too, that the political sympathies of the clergy are
wide and incalculable. Only two years ago in New South Wales the Protectionists were a small body of Sydney artisans, most of whom were Protestants. Since that time Sir Henry Parkes, the author of the Education Act, pronounced strongly for Free Trade, and in two years every Irish member, with only one exception, has become a Protectionist, and nearly every Irish vote in the Colony is cast against Free Trade. In Victoria, where there are signs of a revival of Free Trade, the majority of Irishmen oppose Protection. In New South Wales the Irish clergy, under the influence of Cardinal Moran, are supporting the cause of temperance. In Victoria they have ostentatiously espoused the cause of the publicans. In Queensland the Irish party were the noisiest Nationalists; in New South Wales the only Imperialists we have are the leaders of the Irish Protectionist Party. The explanation of these suspicious alliances is easy. They are in every instance connected with the fight that the Catholic Church is making to upset the educational system. Nothing is any longer said about the Education Act; but the vote of the Church is given in every Colony in favour of whatsoever policy may chance to be that of the Opposition, in the hope that under the cover of silence a large number of members may be returned dependent upon Catholic support. Of course it is not denied that there are many Catholics, as there are many non-Catholics, who believe in Protection, or object to Local Option. What is held is, that it is contrary to all probability that Irishmen should give block votes upon these questions unless there were some ulterior object. As "The Age ", a newspaper which has the largest circulation in Victoria, said in one of several leading articles on this subject:
It is not Catholicism as a form of the Christian religion which has to be guarded against, but the Roman Catholic Church as a political organization, employing political modes to achieve a political end. That end is the acquisition by the Catholic priesthood of something like a million and a half of public funds, to be employed by them for educational purposes. If candidates would honestly declare to the electors that they sought admission to Parliament for the purpose of achieving that end, they would be listened to with respect, although the four-fifths of the people who are content to release the State from the duty of imparting religious instruction to their children and to assume it themselves would emphatically testify by their votes that they would not tolerate exceptional claims on the part of any sect. But a number of the candidates have not, we believe, honestly declared their sentiments, and are trying to creep into Parliament on the strength of popular issues, about which they themselves care very little.
This attitude of the Irish and Catholic party, which is also that of a section of the Anglican Church, foreshadows a great struggle with Clericalism. The wealth of the Catholic Church in Australia is enormous, and the Propaganda at Rome appears to be acting upon Canning's principle and really calling into existence a new world to recompense the Church for its declining power in Europe. Within the last seven years churches, schools, colleges, seminaries, nunneries, sisterhoods, and monastic orders have been founded or established in all the Australian Colonies, and are many of them under the control of Frenchmen, Italians, and Englishmen of exceptional ability, who present a marked contrast to the illiteracy of the ordinary country priest. In addition, large sums of money have been raised in Australia and granted by Rome for the purchase of land and the erection of buildings; and all this increase of power and improvement of organization has taken place while the other religious bodies are inactive and declining in authority. Nowhere is it more difficult than in a young country to forecast the future ; but it seems plain from present indications that, unless some new and modifying influence asserts itself, the scene of the struggle between Church and Liberty
will be changed from France to Australia.
To turn however from speculation to the questions of the day. These are, in their order of importance/.the settlement of the land, the preservation of commercial freedom, and the political relations between Australia and Great Britain. Some years ago I ventured to assert in these pages that the future of Australia for the next thirty years rested with the engineers. The recent discoveries of underground rivers in the most arid portions of the continent have given those words a greater significance. The difficulty of Australia has always been the fear that the land will not support a large population. These discoveries of water dispel that fear. It now appears that the volumes of rain which fall about once in five years over the. greater part of the Australian continent, covering with floods the plains which for four years previously have not known more moisture than might be given in England by a good fall of dew, find their way through the porous soil into channels and chambers beneath the surface, where, at a depth of one or two thousand feet, they provide an inexhaustible store of the most precious commodity known to the Australian squatter. It is impossible to say at present how the use of these underground supplies of water may change the face of the Australian continent. The overflow from one bore, at a place called Kerribree, has already cut a channel of several feet in depth through the sand, and now forms a permanent river of several miles in length in what used to be an absolutely waterless country. It is only to be expected that as more water is brought to the surface, the clouds will take up more moisture by evaporation and the rainfall will increase. Then, with regular rainfall and inexhaustible tanks and creeks, even the Australian squatter might begin to be contented.
One effect this discovery of water is certain to have, and that before very long. By opening the interior of the continent it will render possible direct trans-continental communication between Sydney and Port Darwin. If' this road were constructed, what is virtually a new continent would be opened to English trade; while the trade between India and Australia would assume vast proportions. It is not even unreasonable to suppose that, when the line to Port Darwin and the line through the Euphrates valley are constructed, direct communication between Sydney and London could be made in eighteen days. Even at present, while the English syndicate that shall construct these lines is yet playing in the cradle with other toys than scrip and tools, the possibility of such developments suggests much to those who follow Australian affairs, and tends to lift our politics from the provincial category. The Land Question, in one form or another, comes up in every Parliament. How to reconcile the conflicting interests of the pastoral and agricultural classes, how to encourage settlement in the dry districts, how to provide for the extermination of pests both vegetable and animal, how to secure that the profit of State expenditure shall not pass entirely into the pockets of a few fortunate landowners—these are all questions which would tax the highest administrative skill, and which have a true and permanent social importance.
Nor should the second of our great public questions be without attraction for all students of public affairs. New South Wales and Victoria have furnished the world with a great lesson in the merits of the rival fiscal policies of Freedom and Restriction. Starting together as Free Trade Colonies, Victoria, after twenty years of Freedom, adopted a policy of Commercial Restriction. At the time she made the change in 1866, she had every advantage over the older Colony. She was 200,000 ahead in population ; she had 1,000,000/. a year more revenue; her external trade was 8,000,000/. a year larger ; her area of cultivated land was
larger by 150,000 acres; she was the equal of New South Wales in shipping and far ahead of her in manufactures. Since 1866 the two Colonies have pursued their courses along the same lines in nearly all respects, except as to their fiscal policies. If anything, the conditions have been more favourable to Victoria than to New South Wales. The former has a compact, well-watered territory, with fertile land close to the sea-board and to the markets. New South Wales has a wide expanse of territory exposed to periodic droughts, with nearly all the good land lying at a distance of two hundred miles from the sea-board. Victoria had a political disturbance in 1876, but since that time has been singularly well governed. New South Wales has been exposed to the worst and most protracted drought known in this century, a drought which has lasted with varying degrees of intensity for seven years, and during which eight millions of sheep perished from starvation in a single year. These two disturbances may fairly be set off one against the other. In other respects the Colonies have had the same means of progress, though Victoria was able to use them earlier. Taking the period between 1S66 and 1888 there is no great difference between the two Colonies in the expenditure on public works of monies received from the sale of Crown lands and from loans; for, although in the totals New South Wales seems to have received from these sources about eight million pounds more than Victoria, she has not had over the whole period the use of so much as her southern neighbour. Victoria both borrowed money and sold her lands earlier than New South Wales, and so has had the same advantage over her of using a larger amount of public money that an individual would have, who had borrowed 1001. a year for ten years, over another who in the tenth year borrowed 1,500/., having in the preceding nine years borrowed nothing. Further, Victoria has had the advantage in the character of her population, which has always been marked by greater energy. This may be owing to climatic influences, but is more probably to be attributed to the fact that the gold-fields attracted to Victoria the flower of British youth and energy. In mineral produce Victoria has outpaced New South Wales, the gold yield alone being greater by many millions in value than the total quantity of minerals of all sorts, including coal, produced in New South Wales. This state of things is now being altered and New South Wales is beginning to pass Victoria in mineral production. The conditions of the comparison are thus considerably in favour of Victoria, yet what is the result? Victoria, who when she was a Free Trade Colony was in everything which indicates material progress ahead of New South Wales, has been steadily falling behind in the race since she adopted Protection. In 1866 the Victorian revenue was one million more, in 1888 it was one million less, than that of New South Wales. In 1866 the imports into Victoria were valued at five millions more than those into New South Wales: last year the imports into Victoria only exceeded those into New South Wales by one million. In 1866 the exports from Victoria were valued at three millions more than those from New South Wales: last year they were seven millions less. In 1866 under Free Trade Victoria had already a considerable manufacturing industry, whereas New South Wales could hardly be spoken of as a manufacturing Colony. Yet in 1887 New South Wales employed in her manufacturing industries 45,783 hands out of a population of a million, with a machinery of 26,152 horse-power, while Victoria employed 45,773 with a machinery of 21,018 horse-power, showing a surplus in favour of New South Wales—small it is true, but still a surplus. In only one respect lias Victoria advanced more rapidly than New South Wales — namely in agriculture. In this respect she has increased the lead over New
South Wales which she possessed in 1866. She has increased her cultivation five-fold, whileNew South Wales has increased hers barely three-fold. But in the face of the protracted drought in the latter Colony, and the superior adaptibility of Victorian soil to agriculture, increase in this respect cannot outweigh the testimony of decline given by other facts. It is impossible indeed to resist the conclusion that the progress of one Colony has been hampered by Protection, while the progress of the other has been furthered by Free Trade. Should good seasons return, and the affairs of the country be carefully and economically managed, there is no fear that New South Wales will give up the policy under which her progress has been so phenomonenal; and should there be any reaction in England in favour of a restrictive policy, she may yet play the part of the nurturing daughter and keep alive the mother of her Freedom by the support of her example.
The third great question in Australian politics is that which has come forward for the first time at the last general election in Queensland, namely the relations between Great Britain and the self-governing Colonies. For the first time in Australian history Nationalism has become a party cry. The precise aims of the Nationalists and the actual modifications of the existing relations which they desire have not been clearly defined, and it may be questioned whether the party really represents anything more than a vague sentiment of opposition to the extravagant claims of the Imperialists. It is quite certain that as a party it owes its existence in Australia to the noisy demonstrations of delight in England over the despatch of the Soudan contingent, and to the exaggerated estimate of the political significance of the Naval Defences Bill. Whatever differences of opinion may exist as to the wisdom of despatching a military force from Australia to the Soudan, all parties seem agreed that such an act will never be repeated; while it is certain that no responsible ministry of an Australian Colony—not even that of Victoria, where the Imperialist feeling is strongest—has taken the same view of the Naval Defences Act which has been taken in England. That measure, which Lord Carnarvon, Sir Charles Dilke, and the British Press regard as an expression of the determination of Australians to contribute to the support of the naval power of the British Empire, is universally regarded in Australia simply as a measure of coastal defence. The several Australian Parliaments have consented to contribute to the expenses of the British squadron, because they have been led to believe that this is the most economical method of preserving their own shores from hostile attack. It is probable—at least the speeches of prominent English public men give colour to the idea—that the intention of the British Government in submitting this bill to the Australian Parliaments was different, and that the British-Australian squadron may be used in time of war for the protection of British sea-borne commerce. If this be the intention of the British Government, it cannot be too plainly asserted that the Australian tax-payer regards the sea-borne commerce of England as an English concern, and believes that in time of war his wants could be supplied by other nations, and his exports carried safely under the shelter of a neutral flag. When such sentiments are prevalent in Australia, it is surely injudicious on the part of Englishmen who value national union to over-estimate the importance of the recent legislative sanction to the contribution of Australian money to the maintenance of an English squadron on the Australian coast. It is certain that the view taken in England of this transaction had a marked effect in raising opposition to the measure in
Queensland. The Colonies are not prepared to enter into "a partnership with England in the toils and glories of empire"; and the less the obligation to do so is spoken of or enforced, the better the chance of preserving national union. It may be perfectly true that as a part of the British dominion we cannot escape bearing our share of national burdens; but it is highly undesirable to remind a mass of unthinking and ill-informed voters of this disagreeable fact until one is prepared with a practical plan of relief. The appearance of the Nationalist party in Australian politics will not be without benefit to England, if it serves as a wholesome warning against injudicious and fantastic schemes of union. Organic questions ought not to be raised except in cases of necessity ; and the doctrinaires and busybodies who force them before the prosaic and peace-loving voter in Australia are doing more harm to the cause of union than they can be aware of. No doubt the motive of such persons is good, and it is therefore perhaps ungenerous to criticize their conduct harshly. Let them confine their efforts to making Australia and other Colonies known to Englishmen and they will be rendering a real public service. The way to consolidate the scattered dominions of the Queen is to diffuse information, so that the importance of every part may be universally appreciated. It cannot be expected that Englishmen should follow Colonial affairs with close interest, but they might know more about them than they do. They ought to recognize that Australian politics are worthy of attention, not only because of their bearing upon English interests, but because of their intrinsic political importance. If this article should help in any way to that end, its purpose will be amply realized.
B. E. Wise.