Politics of supply 1866

Mount Alexander Mail (Vic. : 1854 – 1917), Thursday 22 February 1866, page 2
MONTHLY LETTER

TO OUR HOME READERS.

Mail Office, Castlemaine,

Thursday-, February 22, 1866.
Owing to the mail steamer being despatched this month two day’s sooner than usual, our present letter, as you will notice, bears an earlier date than its predecessors You will not be surprised to learn that public attention during the month has been almost entirely absorbed by the great political questions that are before the country ; and indeed so vastly important are the phases which the crisis has assumed, that men can think of little else. It so happened that the English mail was telegraphed from Adelaide on the very day that the new Parliament assembled for despatch of business. We are glad to observe that, with the exception of the Daily News, the entire press of England has united in condemning the unconstitutional conduct of the Ministry and the Governor. But not even this unanimity of opinion at home has the slightest effect upon tbe dominant party, who still persist in declaring that all who differ with them are nothing more than wilful obstructionists. The fact that Mr Bramwell has been compelled to resign his appointment as manager of the London Chartered Bank, is sufficient evidence of the disfavor with which his collusive arrangement with the Government is regarded by his English employers. Nevertheless, in the face even of this, the Ministerial journal continues to assert that the directors and shareholders are delighted with the good stroke of business he did in advancing money to the bankrupt Government. Parliament was opened on the 12th instant, and the Governor’s speech took everyone by surprise. It was, in fact, nothing but a flimsy piece of prevarication; it did not contain even the slightest explanation of the Ministerial policy, nor was any allusion made to the chief questions bearing upon the crisis that necessitated a dissolution. In the Assembly, the Government command an enormous majority of votes, and therefore it is not surprising that they were able to carry the usual “address” without amendment, notwithstanding that the speech was unsatisfactory to both parties alike. They were not so successful, however, in the Council, where a lengthy debate took place on an amendment proposed by Mr Fellows. The amended address was carried by a large majority, and was presented to his Excellency yesterday. It contains language so plainly levelled as protests against, the unconstitutional manner in which Sir Charles and his Ministers have lately governed the country, that it is believed the Ministry will take advantage of the occasion to retreat from their dilemma by resigning. Such at least is the latest on dit. The Council’s address, however, is written in a spirit of conciliation so far as the Assembly is concerned, and plainly offers to pass a protective tariff if the majority, of the Lower House so wish it: but, of course, they will continue to resist any attempts to coerce them by means of a tack. It rests with the Assembly now to put an end to dissention between the two Houses, by sending the Appropriation and Tariff Bills as separate measures, both of which they, have been assured will be passed by the Council, if presented in proper form. Should they refuse to do this, the Council will be free, as they now are, from all blame on account of the consequences to follow. Touching the enormous strength of the M’Culloch : Government, which Mr Higinbotham has declared is to remain in power till the year 1868, we may tell you that the Ministerial party is already commencing to destroy itself. Within the last few days very serious dissensions have occurred not only among the supporters of the Government, but also among Ministers themselves. The causes of this impending split are differently stated. By some it is asserted that Sir Charles Darling, smarting under his private despatches received from Mr Cardwell, has fallen out with his advisers, aud is endeavoring to hold them with a tighter rein; others again consider that the question of paying members, upon which both the members of

the Government and their supporters entertain different opinions, will be the immediate cause of their break-up. Then again, it is said that the tea and sugar duties are at the bottom of the dispute; but if we are to judge by the hints thrown out by the Ministerial journal, and repeated by the representative of the Government in the Upper House, the ostensible reason — if not the true and only cause— for the resignation of the Cabinet, will be the adverse address adopted by tbe Council in reply to the Governor’s speech. However, of this you may be sure, the Ministry, and their followers in the Assembly, are by no means so satisfied with each other as they expected to be. It is generally believed here that the recall of Sir Charles Darling has been decided on by the Imperial Government, and some go so far as to say that Sir “W Dennison has been appointed his successor. However this may be, it is certain that his Excellency has received a very severe reprimand from Mr Cardwell, but it is not probable that either he or his Ministers will condescend to enlighten the public as to the nature of the despatches received by the last mail. We must, therefore, wait patiently for the gradual development of the events; but our own impression is, that a very few weeks will settle the fate of the McCulloch Administration. It is difficult to conjecture what would be the effect of .ma Ministerial change, at the present time. It does hot seem at all possible that a strong Government could be formed out of the Opposition party, and it would be extremely difficult, nay, impossible, to effect a compromise with those who have been returned to the Assembly, as supporters of the Ministerial-policy, but who might be inclined to desert their colors, because of not being allowed to have their own way, in reference to the matter of paying themselves for their services. Apropos of this, it has been said that the Government were prepared to propose a notable scheme, by which each Minister would be entitled to appoint a paid under-secretary, for his department, such appointments to be made from the ranks of the Government supporters in the Assembly. We are not inclined to place much faith in the truth of this rumor, for in face of the Officials in Parliament Bill, the suggestion is simply preposterous. Moreover, the prizes in the Ministerial lottery would be too few ; and as it would be pretty generally known on whom the preference would fall, the majority would be dissatisfied, aud would, therefore, oppose the measure. Again, it is reported

that some members of the Cabinet are in favor of placing a sum of money on the Estimates for the salaries of members of the Assembly, so that the Council could not have a voice in the matter; but we scarcely think that the suggestion can have been seriously made. The payment of representatives out of tbe public purse, involves a principle which ought, not to be settled by one branch of the Legislature; and, if it were so attempted, the inevitable result would be the throwing out of. the Appropriation Bill by the Council, thus causing another deadlock. The only proper way to test this question, is by separate Bill, and we feel tolerably sure, that if a measure were introduced for the purpose, it would not, in the end, become law, for the sense of the country is against the principle. However, to make along slory short, we may tell you that the political situation has not improved since you last heard from us; and unless tbe Assembly make up their minds to abstain from further attacks on the privileges of the Council, a collision between the colony and the Imperial Government, as the Times says, must inevitably occur. As it is, the public credit is damaged to such a degree that our securities have already a musty smell, not only in the English market but also among capitalists resident in the colony. It is generally admitted that a reform of the Upper House has become necessary, owing to the altered circumstances of the colony since the inauguration of Constitutional Government; and you will be pleased to hear that the initiative in that direction has already been taken by a member of the Council. In fact all classes of politicians confess that the country ought to be governed in accordance with the demands of the majority; the only real dispute between us after all being whether reforms should not be brought about in a constitutional manner, or anticipated by the illegal acts of one party that is accidentally in power. Before leaving the subject of Victorian politics we must not forget to inform you of the death of the Hon. William Clarke Haines, late a member of the Upper House, and a determined opponent of the present Ministry. Mr Haines was an old colonist, and one who has been identified with the legislature of Victoria almost from the commencement. He has served as Chief Secretary, and also as Treasurer, and the manner in which he acquitted himself of these high trusts secured for him the warm friendship of his own party, and the universal respect of his political antagonists. His loss at the present time is seriously felt, because he was expected to lake a leading part in the great constitutional struggle that has again commenced. In deference to his own expressed wish, he was buried privately, otherwise there is no doubt that his memory would-have been honored by a public funeral. Mr Haines was not a brilliant orator, but he was a clear-headed statesman, and above all things a man of unimpeachable integrity. It is sufficient to say that lie was known to, the colonists as “Honest Haines.” and that is something to note in these days of Ministerial tergiversation. As regards our mining matters, the unusual dulness of which we complained, prevailed during the first portion of the mouth after last writing you. You will remember that we assigned the reason of this dulness, to be the long-continued drought from which we suffered. This evil has been partially removed by two or three showers of rain, not, however, sufficiently copious to give more than a very temporary supply of water to The miners, for washing purposes. It is satisfactory, however, to be enabled to tell you that our reefs are looking more cheering. A new reef has been opened about fifteen miles distant;-by a German named Kruzen, aud some capital specimens taken from it. As regards new discoveries, however,- the most important is that of the continuation of a reef through the properly of a Mr Low, at Chewton. The sinking is only shallow, being, as yet about fifteen feet, and the prospectors have been, most successful. A few days ago they crushed l7tons, yielding, 21oz;

Other crushings have turned out equally rich, and the party working have now before them a large body of quartz, the value of which can scarcely be over-estimated. The same line of reef has been struck outside of the property, and 30ozs obtained from between 12 to 15 Tons. ;A,t” Burns – r’eef the rich; To’de of Featherby ‘.an’d Co., 14 ton’s from -which gave 84o”z; has-been traced into the adjoining-claim of Beunott and party. The Town reef; Castlemaine, p continues to prove rich : James and Co., at their last crushing, _ obtained, 22oz TromT7 tons, of quartz. They .have also beeu / fortunate in having; other rich crushings. The Devonshire reef prospecting’ claim, belonging to Huggins;and Co. yields: fully loz to tile ton, but the next lot of quartz to be operated on, – is anticipated ‘to Turn out more richly; ‘At the .London re’efj: Evans; Nicholls . and Co. have broke through) asi.it is termed, andstruckalargebodyofquartz, which, is expected to yield ‘”at the rate of 12a wt’to the ton. The Ajax .Company’s/ tribqtors still- continue to

work their famous mine, though sorely tired from a want of sufficiency of water. Their quartz still maintains its usual average. The Old Wattle Gully reef promises again to be as rich as in former days. One party working there, by sinking 12 feet lower in their workings, obtained 84oz from 12 tons. The Vineyard reef, which was once denominated the ” rich reef,” fell off’ for a time. M’lntosh and Co. have, however, struck gold well again, having obtained |oz to the ton from 17 tons. Having thus satisfied you that our reefing interest is improving, you will perhaps expect us to say something in reference to our public companies. All we can say of them is, that the accounts of the Pioneer Company are encouraging, as they are reported to have struck gold. The Alpha Company obtained 12oz lOdwt from 40 tons. The Eldorado and Argus Companies are pushing on the completion of their respective plants, and the former have obtained very payable prospects from a large and unlimited supply of wash-dirt. We must not forget to mention the claim of Wood, Dunn, and Co., at. Strathloddon. Their last washing, for a fortnight, gave 49oz 18dwt, but they could not crush ‘ more than half their cement from the scarcity of. water. Their former washing gave 53|oz. A fine nugget, weighing little short of 10oz, was unearthed by a’-lucky miner at Forest Creek-. Such, ‘lumps of gold are rather scarce on this old goldfield’i :To give you a better idea of the move general yield of the last month, we add a list of crushings made by two machines during one week — Mr Fairbairn, ofTke Sir H. Barkly, machine, Chewton, crushed as follows: — For Logan and Co., Argus-hill, 4- tons, yielding 6oz ; and 6 tons, yielding 6oz 8dwt ; and 17 tons, yielding 12oz. Old Quartz Hill Company, 14 tons, lOoz 7dwt; Russell and Co., Argus-hill, 6 tons, lldwt ; Fairbairn’s Wattle Gully tributors, 29 tons, giving 6oz 15dwt. Chewton’ Reef Co., 20 tons, 3oz 6dwt. Messrs Hastie and Waterston crushed : — -For Bledge and Co., Post Office Ilill, 2 tons, average 7Adwt to the ton; Lloyd and Co., Wattle Gully, 22 tons, 3oz 19dwt; Young and Co., Nimrod reef, 11 tons, 8oz 2dwt ; M’lntosh, Vineyard Reef, 14 tons, 4oz 17dwts. Moscrip and Co, of Campbell’s Creek, are still doing well, their last crushing averaging 23dwl to the ton. . Not only in the Castlemaine district, but throughout the colony, the weather has been oppressively hot for weeks past. Now and again to be sure, we have had an agreeable change of temperature, and a few passing showers of rain, but still not sufficient to compensate for the baneful effects of a scorching sun and hot winds lhat have dried up vegetation in many places, and caused a very unhealthy condition of the popula-lation. Still it is gratifying to know that, takeu as a whole, the agriculturists of the colony have not been sufferers to so great an extent as was thought. In some parts the crops have been very good, while in others they have proved a total failure. The average result, however, has not been so disappointing as we were led to suspect. Vegetables are scarce, and consequently deaf. Indeed, if it were not for the Chinese gardeners, the local supply would be far below . the demand for domestic consumption. These, industrious ” John’s” contrive to produce cabbages, lettuces, onions, &c;, of excellent quality, while the gardens of many Europeans are almost bare of produce. Irrigation, and manure abundantly employed, are the tools the Chiuamcn work with. Fruit is plentiful, but this is owing to. the large importations from Tasmania and other colonies ; most of the orchards around Castlemaine having suffered severely both by frosts and drought. Apropos of water, we are glad to tell you that the preliminary arrangements for commencing the construction of The Coliban works, for the

supply ot Castlemaine and baudhurst, are being pushed on again with some show of energy by the Government. It is announced that very shortly tenders will be invited for some portions of the undertaking ; and it has been declared iu the Governor’s speech that the Ministry intend to use every exertiou to : bring the water on to .lie goldflelds with as little delay as possible. We must confess, however, that there lias been too much time lost since tbe Minister of Mines made his large promise to the united deputation from Sandhurst and Castlemaine ; and we are quite sure that iu the hands of a private company the works would now have been in progress. But you know well enough that red-tape is a very powerful clog on expedition ; and when you consider also that the Government are out “of funds, owing to the stopping of their cash credit at the London Chartered Bank, you may find some palliation for this delay, which otherwise would be altogether inexcusable. Be assured tkat not only the miners, but all classes of people; are anxiously looking forward to the day when the waters of the Coliban shall flow through our rich auriferous gullies.

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