Mount Alexander Mail (Vic. : 1854 – 1917)
Friday 25 January 1867
MR VERDON IN ENGLAND!
A report; of- Mr Verdon’s proceedings as the delegate of Victoria to her Majesty’s Government was laid on the table of the Assembly on Wednesday night, and is account not only creditable to its author but full of interest to every colonist. It is
a brief account of Mr Verdon’s stewardship, – the consequences of which are not unlikely to have an influence in moulding the future history of the colony. It is very evident that we were fast lagging behind the spirit of the times, rapidly passing away from the recollection of the political cognoscenti; having a place assigned us in the pigeon-holes of the Colonial office, and now and then quoted in the wrong place by the professional writers in Printing-house Square, with hazy notions about our position on the map, but to the general British public totally unknown, and outside the circle of functionarism never mentioned. Mr Verdon has contrived to convey to us this very unflattering state of our reputation in the most delicate manner at his command, but even this master of courtesy cannot disguise the unpalatable truth. In pleading the necessity of appointing a recognised agent- general for the colony in the mother country, he supports his plea by the assurance that no reliable information is to be got about the colony, that immigrants — small capitalists, the kind of immigrants we want, who would never burden our public charities, and would bring skilled labor as well as money into the country— have been unable to come to Victoria -chiefly because they could get no information about the country,” that misapprehensions of the most injurious sort exist about us for want of authoritative correction and that whilst everybody can find out all they require, without any difficulty, about America, and Canada, and Queensland, “save the obscure little office occasionally visited by Major Pasley there is no place in England where anything concerning Victoria can be learned.” In fact, says Mr Verdon, ” I could not have supposed without visiting England how important it is that a proper representative of the colony should be established,” There appears, however, to, be some difficulty in securing the services of such a representative. It is only in accord ance with the nature of the appointment that it should be held by a member of the English Legislature, who should be able to exercise a vigilant guardianship over our interests, and plead our cause inside as well as. outside the doors of Parliament. Mr Verdon found that the feeling in Parliament itself was opposed to paid advocacy, that in fact if was encroaching too much upon the independence of the representative character, too much partaking of the objectionable features of payment of members, and that if we were to induce a really good man to take the office he would lose his influence directly it became known that he was in the service of the colony.” The only alternative, that offers itself appears to be to procure an agent having some personal knowledge of the colony, who though not a member of Parliament might be able to obtain a hearing in the Legislature through the mouth of some member who would speak in the interest of the colony, provided he were well posted up in the details of his subject. This is the suggestion of Mr Verdon, and whether it is adopted or not, it is very certain that the colony ought not to be allowed to remain unrepresented in the councils and before the public opinion of the empire. The advantage in having an advocate at court is sufficiently shown in Mr Verdon’s own person. “We want no better evidence of the policy of such an appoint ment than the success of Mr Verdon’s own mission. Before he set out on his embassy we were in bad odour enough. The miserable political crisis which had overtaken us had wrecked our political reputation, and was reacting prejudicially on our monetary credit. The Times held us to the world as the shocking example of the age, and our securities trembled in the scales of the Exchange-brokers. But suddenly we venture out of the obscurity in which we seemed to delight, invited the attention of the critics, and let in the full light of public opinion upon us and forthwith The Times changes its note, and the money-lenders offer us more money than we want, on more favorable terms than we had ever expected.Having regard then not only to our present exigencies, but in view of the future requirements of the colony, it is indispensable that we should no longer be left a terra incognita in the eyes of the British empire, with no responsible representative in the centre of business, and with no one to transact our bargains for us. For it must be remembered our business with the old world does not end with Mr Verdon’s mission. If we are to put any confidence in the prospects held out by that distinguished traveller, we are just entering the threshold of a career of still more important transactions with the capitalists of Europe. The defences and the waterworks are only a fraction ot the scheme of improvements which is marked out for us. “We are not to rest upon our oars. Having got what we wanted so easily, we are to ask for more. The eagerness which the French capitalists displayed to take up our eight hundred thousand pounds’ worth of debentures, offers a lesson which we are much too cute financiers not to profit by. In the words of Mr Verdon, in the course of two years it will be necessary to borrow from three to five millions, to extend our system of railways and water supply, and to complete our public buildings, “there can be no doubt that the money can be obtained.” All that we have to do is to meet our engagements punctually, keep up the good repute in which our bonds are held, and avoid political crises, and make our reproductive works return upon the prospect of our future appearance in the money market, to convert the debentures into stock, and consolidate the public debt. But the one immediate instrument of our welfare, provided for which should no longer be delayed, is undoubtedly the appointment of a resident ambassador in the old country, some one who should combine the duties of agent with the duties of representative, who should be authorised to take the best means that offers for disseminating correct information by itinerant lecturers or others about our resources and our wants, not only in the market of money, but in the immigration market. With such competitors as America or Canada to contend against, nothing but the utmost exertion, nothing but a systematic effort can attract population to our shores, the sort of population that Mr Verdon tells us are anxious to come to us — population with money to invest. The present juncture, when a liberal land law is promised us, offers an opportunity for entering the emigration market under peculiarly favorable circumstances, and with special inducements to the emigrants, holding out the prospect of a cheap investment on easy terms.