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I. Farmers and Free Trade. By STUART Reid
399 II. Bouffé. By JAMES SMITH
419 III. On the Taxation of Property. By A. H. Davis (Tasmania)
437 IV. Thomas Hood. By W. H. O. SMEATON (New Zealand)
444 V. Turkey and the Turks. By a Correspondent
462 VI. The Financial Outlook in New South Wales. By J. WARDE (Sydney) 475 VII. Sir Charles Gavan Duffy's “ Young Ireland.” By R. COLONNA-Close. 484 VIII. The Insolvency Act of New South Wales. By a Sydney Merchant
499 IX. The University Constitution Bill. By Dr. Et. THIBAULT.
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VOL. III.-No. XVI.-FEBRUARY 1, 1881.
FARMERS AND FREETRADE.
WHILE Victoria, as a whole, is bleeding at every pore from the effects of bad government, the agricultural and pastoral interests are specially devoted to the wrath of the immortals. Everyone acknowledges the importance of the industries immediately connected with the soil; but, by general consent, they are given up to universal plunder. The wheat-grower and the wool-grower alike are robbed for the purpose of trying to establish industries which, under conditions of freedom and self-reliance, would have attained healthier proportions. The so-called “friends of the farmers” are generally the open enemies of the wool-grower; and in their love and hatred, liberal politicians are alike destructive and dangerous. But politicians who combine the maximum of ignorance on questions of physics, with the minimum of conscientiousness on questions of politics, are much more dangerous to their friends than to their enemies. Those who accept, as an axiom, that Liberal politicians never (or, at least, hardly ever) touch anything without damning it, are more likely to make themselves secure than the confiding people who apparently think that powerful lungs are indicative of wisdom. This makes our politician of the market-place as harmless as a dove to his enemies, and as dangerous as a frozen serpent in the bosom of his friends. The man who is sceptical about the mission of the professed "friend of humanity” watches carefully the way he is VOL. III.-No. 16.
going, and then insures his own safety by taking the opposite direction. The Victorian farmer, however, is a shocking example of the evil effects of misplaced confidence. Liberal politicians and Reform Leaguers bless and flatter him, posture over him, orate upon him, get his vote—and strangle him with taxation.
Farming is, after grazing, fucile princeps among Victorian industries ; but whether the agricultural or pastoral occupation of the soil is the better for the country, it is not my intention to discuss. In any case it would be a barren controversy, as both are good; and, indeed, the one is so intimately connected with the other that only soured "patriots,” by the exercise of malignant ingenuity, are able to stir up strife by insisting upon a distinction without a difference. Both the agriculturist and the pastoralist are engaged in extracting from the soil its dormant wealth ; and this constitutes a bond of union which differentiates them from certain other industries, and should bind all the true wealth producers together for their mutual protection. That there exists a feeling of antagonism between these two sections of unprotected industries, is to be deplored, as it is only by joining their forces that they can expect to obtain justice from the politically powerful and intensely selfish urban masses, who, apparently, look upon the country districts in the same light as the valiant Pistol looked upon the world in general.
“Why, then, the world's mine oyster,
Which I with sword will open,” said this prince of cut-purses; and his ideas of meum and tuum, as explained by his friend Nym, are not unlike those of Reform Leaguers and Protectionists :
Convey the wise it call:
Steal, foh! a fico for the phrase !" The politicians of the destructive school are careful to keep alive a feeling of antagonism between the wool-grower and wheat-grower, for the simple reason that when the breach is closed, Othello's occupation will be gone. The difference is, to a great extent, imaginary. The farmer, when left to himself, generally contrives, after a rough fashion, to employ his energies upon the crop which is likely to be the most profitable; and having neither a holy horror of wool, nor an imbecile predilection for unprofitable hard work, he becomes a grazier or a cultivator as it suits him. That the farmers, as a body, do not consider wheat-growing as the “be all and end all” of existence is clear from the fact that out of a total production for 1879 of
£5,875,313, the value of the wheat raised was only £1,899,352, or about 33 per cent. This amount even is a large percentage; but the recent settlement for purely wheat-growing purposes—to a certain extent unquestionably forced.-has, no doubt, altered the natural proportions. It is sufficient to show, however, that farming and wheat-growing are not convertible terms, as we are sometimes prone to imagine ; and it may also serve to account for the fact that the farming interest is not more depressed than we now see it.
My object in this article will be to examine, not farming in general, but wheat-growing in particular. Looking at the matter from a purely economical point of view, there can be little doubt that the labour expended by isolated selectors in wheat-growing might in many instances be more profitably employed if the capitalist were not de bar red from investing in Victoria by the insane tactics of the “friend of the working man;" but where questions of sociology come to be mixed up with practical matters, enthusiasts may believe that the moral benefits to be derived from the existence of small cultivators more than counterbalance the material loss resulting from misdirected energy. There can be no doubt that, to a certain extent, these moral benefits are real, but only very partially so; and the idea is evidently based upon the supposition that the selectors, as a rule, are men to whom prosperity is a curse, and who are only economical when they cannot help themselves.
If the amount of labour expended by selectors and their families on wheat-growing was resolved into coin of the realm through the medium of the wage-paying capitalist, the selector would probably, on the whole, have a larger income than he has at present. That some of them would spend their increased income on drink is probably true; and for such it is, no doubt, better that their labour should be invested in land at a very low interest, even if the revenue from the beer tax disappoints Mr. Berry as much as his other taxes have done; but that the majority of selectors require to be prevented from spending their substance in riotous living is simply a slander.
That wheat-growing in Victoria is likely to be permanent, orfrom the point of view of the individual or the State-profitable, I am rather inclined to doubt; but I am aware that numbers of practical men who are conversant with the system of culture adopted in the wheat-growing areas are satisfied that there is a great future for the business, and it is certain that, in spite of Mr. Longmore and his