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68 FOREIGNERS-IRREGULAR IMMIGRATION.
the attention of foreigners, and have produced an emigration which there is every reason to hope will steadily increase. We allude to that of Germans, who have proved a valuable acquisition in South Australia, and whose success there has turned the attention of their countrymen at home towards other colonies; several hundreds have arrived at Port Phillip, and many thousands are likely to follow. Such a large addition to the population, bringing with them the industrious habits, the regard for character and decorum for which their country is so remarkable, will afford a useful example, and prove of great benefit to the colonists.
Of these descriptions of labour it would be difficult to supply too much, provided it is sent out to the colony by degrees; but it unfortunately has happened that after the colonists have been left for some years without a supply of labourers, in the ensuing years too many have been suddenly poured in upon them. Two evils are thus produced: the colony obtains a bad name as a field for emigration for the labouring classes, which it does not deserve; and also, when labour is scarce, the settlers, driven to extremities, welcome assistance from any source.
ERRORS OF PRESENT SYSTEM.
They have imported Coolies, Chinese, and cannibals from the South Seas; have paid the passages of expirees (as they are termed) from Van Diemen's Land, and have frequently been forced to entrust valuable property to felons reprieved from the gallows. The demoralization thus inflicted upon the lower orders is incalculable; character ceases to be an object with them, when bad and good are necessarily treated alike thus one great inducement to good conduct is taken away. Too high a rate of wages is also injurious, both to the employer and employed: money too easily acquired produces in both a recklessness prejudicial to habits of prudence and frugality. That these alternate wants and gluts of labour should occur, is a necessary consequence of the present system of land sale and immigration as conducted by Government.
The funds raised from the sale of land, are for the most part devoted to pay for the transit of emigrants. In all countries, seasons of speculation, and consequent depression, are usual: What, then, is the working of the present system? Whenever there is any over-speculation in land on the part of the colonists, more of their capital than can be prudently spared is exported for emigration
ERRORS OF PRESENT SYSTEM.
purposes, and a pressure for money instantly ensues. Two or three successful years may cause a large accumulation of money; in consequence, the Land Fund is large, is transmitted to England, and, in the course of a couple of years, emigrants are sent out in return. By that time, in all probability, a reaction has taken place; a want of money has been felt; the demand for labour is slackened; some remain unemployed for a time; and a short-sighted clamour is raised that emigration has been overdone: the Land Fund, in the mean time, is diminished. In a short time, however, prosperity returns; all the immigrants are employed; but, for a year or two, no funds arise to pay for the importation of Thus the great influx of labour occurs when it is least wanting: when it is more than usually required, it is not to be obtained. The Colonial Office becomes bewildered by the contradictory accounts sent home as to the wants and wishes of the colonists, and naturally, it is to be feared, looks upon them as unreasonable: such must be the result until they are allowed to manage their own concerns. Year after year have they petitioned for leave to borrow money on their Land Fund, or to issue debentures, to be
secured upon it; thus to obtain a sufficient supply of labour when it was wanted, and if it were not required, to make these funds available by annual payment in reduction of their debts; by these means to economise their power, and, if the simile may be allowed, to create a flywheel to equalise its action, as is usual in machinery.
The British Government did more in the case of the Canadas: they gave their guarantee, enabling them to raise a loan of £1,500,000 for their public works, by which means the money was obtained at 4 per cent. Let her deal in a similar spirit with her Australian colonies. For example:-Let her lend to Port Phillip her guarantee for a loan of, say £300,000, for laying down railroads.
In America much practical good sense is shown in the construction of public works: there railroads are laid down at a cost of from £2,000 to £3,000 per mile, which, unlike the uselessly expensive railroads of Great Britain, entailing ruin on almost all who trafficked in them, yield large returns for immense distances. There, through the wild forest, the electric telegraph may be seen transmitting its silent intelligence from town to town; and there more singularly
PROPOSAL FOR LOAN.
still, it is found to pay well, although in densely populated England it is comparatively unused. The same spirit of enterprise and practical utility exists in Australia, and only waits to be developed; where the colonists desire railroads laid on the American system, and where it is computed, by men on the spot, they would yield a return of at least 10 per cent. ; so that not only would all interest upon the debt be paid, but a surplus being applicable towards the liquidation of the latter, its speedy extinction might be reckoned on.
The development of the country, the amount of Crown lands brought into the market at an increased value, would be incalculable. This expenditure of money would create an immense demand for labour; certainly more than could be spared without injury to the other pursuits of the colonists. A further guarantee* for a loan would be therefore required, for say £700,000, to be expended on emigration, and secured upon the
* The guarantee of England would enable the colony to borrow upon better terms, and would cost the mother country nothing. It is, however, not essential in carrying out this proposal. The money, it is believed, could be obtained at less than 7 per cent.