Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

no factories there. They had to leave the colony and in many cases did so. A similar fate befell young colonists whose bent was not to agricultural and pastoral or mining life, or who did not care to become merchants' clerks. Inasmuch as surplus humanity cannot be shifted or expatriated without complaint and unhappiness, the cry for a variety of industries grew loud and louder. To this must be added the long and steady droop in the price of raw material which was so marked a feature of the world's trade between 1873 and 1895. It became part of the settled belief of the colonists that farming and grazing were amongst the least profitable of the world's occupations, and that colonial growers of raw material were destined to be hewers of wood and drawers of water for the manufacturers and financiers of the old world.

Turning to the second point, that of the colonial belief in the profitable character of internal as against foreign trade, it must be remembered that the colonists who sent their wool or other produce to London for sale and got back clothing or other manufactures in return, had to submit to a series of charges for the transport of these articles, which, especially in the early days, were of a severe and sometimes exorbitant character. The colonial growers saw merchants, ship-owners, money-lenders, and commission-agents growing wealthy, while over a series of years they themselves often did not. This was the more irritating as the profits thus made mostly went to Great Britain. They began to believe that ocean-borne commerce was a gigantic system of which various degrees of middlemen managed to reap most of the advantage.

At any rate they accepted a doctrine which they were wont to put thus : If A. in Victoria sends £100 worth of goods to B. in Belgium, and gets back wealth in exchange worth £110 in Victoria, the Colony has the latter amount. But if A. can find a market for his goods in the Colony, both the value of what he produces and the value of what he receives in exchange remain in the country and the community is doubly benefited.

The colonial Protectionists believed that the establishment of protected industries would both meet an existing demand and create a fresh one. But it may well be doubted if their various theories, however honestly believed in, and the inconveniences they suffered from the lack of variety in their industries, would have led them into Protective tariffs had not political and financial exigences helped to force them in the same direction. From about the year 1870 onwards the borrowings of the colonies for public works progressively increased, and in a very few years it had become needful to find fresh means of taxation. The great political strength of the landowners and farmers made it quite out of the question to raise most of this by direct taxation. In their difficulties one Colonial Treasurer after another turned to the Customs, and duties of 5 and 7 per cent. were raised to 10 and 15 per cent., almost solely with the design of aiding the revenue. Though most of the larger landowners were free-traders, they assented to this because it saved their land from taxation. But the borrowing still went on and more and more revenue was required. Then the Protectionists coming on the scene in force, exerted their influence to so mould the tariffs that duties of 20 and 25 per cent. should not only be put on articles that could not be manufactured in the colonies, but also upon such as could. In the latter case, of course the design was not to increase the revenue but to check importation. In every colony compromises of this kind were arrived at. The tariffs thus became, and have remained, curious mixtures of high revenue with low Protective duties—at least Protective duties which as they seldom exceed 20 or 25 per cent., would be considered low in the land of McKinley.

Between 1880 and 1892, however, the colony of Victoria went a long step further and adopted a quasi-American tariff under which some of the Protective duties were really high, while certain of the revenue duties were lowered or taken off altogether. In the full tide, however, of Protection's popularity, Victoria became the scene of a financial collapse due chiefly to a wild land speculation. Its tariff had to some extent to be remodelled once more with the view of making it more productive of revenue if less stringently protective, and there is no doubt that the general distress in the colony brought Protection there in a certain degree into discredit, for people could not help contrasting the utterness of Melbourne's fall with the comparative stability shown by Sydney in the same years.

English readers will of course want to know how this system -this combination of industrial aspirations with Protectionist theories affected by political exigences-works in practice. As regards its productiveness of revenue the tax-collector has no cause to complain of it. In the financial year 1895–1896, out of a total of nearly £11,200,000 levied in taxes throughout Australasia, nearly £8,000,000 was derived from customs duties, and that large amount has since been appreciably increased. To what extent Protection duties have lowered the revenue receipts it is not easy to say. In certain lines of trade they have unquestionably checked importation. On the other hand, the establishment of protected factories and the employment of well-paid hands therein have of course created a demand for imported articles in other lines. It is admitted, too, that the English exporter and his colonial agent, aided by cheaper ocean freights, by quicker transport, by lower prices in the mother country, and by cutting down their profits and charges wherever possible, have often held their own in the colonial trade to a greater extent than the Protectionists anticipated. Manufactures in the colonies grow, but the import business grows too. Moreover, odd as it may seem, the prices of manufactured goods affected by the tariffs have not risen, but, generally speaking, have fallen in a marked degree during the last twenty years.

This is due to many causes, amongst others improved means of communication and the fact that the colonies now offer larger markets than they did twenty and thirty years ago. Further, the Protective tariffs have not excluded local competition, which has usually been keen, sometimes ruinously so. The general fall in the prices not only of manufacturers but of all articles of consumption during the last quarter of a century, to whatever cause due, has made living decidedly cheaper in the colonies than it was five and twenty years ago, and this of course has helped to reconcile the mass of the people to the tariffs. It is easy to see what an effective argument the Protectionists have in being able to point out to the consumers that the price of nearly every article used is appreciably lower under high customs duties than in the

1 These are Mr. Coghlan's figures for the year 1895-96:

Taxation

Colony.

Import duties.

Other sources.

New South Wales
Victoria
Queensland
South Australia
Western Australia
Tasmania
New Zealand

1,825,240
1,733,672
1,290,795

553,037
614,457

304,365
1,649,310

740,872 949,248 276,188 280,731

74,015 160,012 740,878

Australasia

7,970,876

3,221,944

were

days when the customs duties

low. As à partial example of the effects of this fall as far as it concerned food stuffs, I will quote the following table contributed in 1895 to the Westminster Review by a New Zealand merchant. As it was checked by the officers of the statistical department in that colony I give it with the object of showing that the general decline of prices had more than counterbalanced the fall in wages in New Zealand. Here is the average week-day money-wage for constant work of daily wage-earners:

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Next is the average daily cost of eight necessary articles of food, for a husband, wife, and average young family, exclusive of wage-earning children, equal to in all (at most) four adults, at eight New Zealand centres of population, in the years 1877, 1891, 1894 and 1895:

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

It will be asked to what extent the colonies have succeeded in building up manufactures of their own. It is not so easy as it should be to answer this question correctly. In several of the colonies the statistics relating to factories and workshops are notoriously incomplete. In the three largest, New South Wales, Victoria and New Zealand, they are fortunately fairly full. But

[ocr errors]

even there they are not kept on quite the same system, and comparison is not as easy as could be wished. As regards the value of the output of the factories and workshops of the seven colonies my estimate,—which I give with becoming hesitation,is seventy millions a year. As to the number of hands employed, I put that at 200,000 at the outside. Thanks to the Factory Law in New Zealand under which every workroom in which two persons are engaged preparing articles for sale has to be registered, the figures are completest in that colony. The number of hands employed in the New Zealand factories in March last was 40,000, or, if the employees in the railway workshops be included, 41,000. The official figures for the year 1897 showed 51,000 hands in the New South Wales factories; in those of Victoria 50,400 were returned in 1896, of which 1,000 were home workers. Were, however, the figures in New South Wales and Victoria calculated on the New Zealand basis, then, allowing for this year's increase in the former colony, and for the last two years in the latter, I should set the number of hands engaged in the three colonies at 150,000. That is as near as I am able to get to exactness. In Victoria, thanks to the financial disasters of 1891-2-3, the number of factory hands employed fell from nearly 60,000 to 40,000, but the greater part of this loss has since been made good.

To what extent have the Protective duties contributed to building up the industries whose bulk is thus indicated ? That again can only be approximately estimated. One can only give one's belief. Mine is that woollen mills, boot and shoe factories, tanneries, breweries, distilleries, the whole industry connected with the growing and refining of sugar, jam-making, soap and candle works, furniture-making, printing and book-binding (partly), brick and tile-making (partly), hat factories, clothing factories, iron foundries and machine shops, owe their existence in the colonies chiefly, if not entirely, to State aid, whether by way of bonus or customs duties; whether imposed for revenue or for avowedly Protective purposes. For instance, New Zealand, with but threefifths of the population of New South Wales, employs seven times as many hands in her woollen mills as New South Wales. In the latter colony the industry has had only temporary and imperfect aid from the tariff; in the former they have been protected for twenty years.

If New South Wales had been persistently a Free Trade colony, and if her extent of territory and immense and convenient

i See the table appended.

« НазадПродовжити »