Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/516

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.
498
SOUTH AUSTRALIA


Crown Lands.


also was the idea of a simultaneous dissolution of both houses as a means of overcoming possible deadlocks between the chambers. As one among many improvements in parliamentary procedure may be mentioned the practice of permitting bills lapsed owing to prorogation to be replaced on the notice paper in the ensuing session by motion without debate.

In partially settled countries such as South Australia the Crown lands policy rivals finance in engrossing the attention of the legisla- ture, but as time goes on the relative importance of these subjects varies in inverse ratio. The earlier budgets, compared with those of later years, when the country had become more fully developed, might be said to resemble the finances of the nursery, whereas the initial alien- ations of land, comprising the most central and most valuable blocks, necessarily surpassed later transactions in significance. Many phases of public opinion as to the method of disposing of the Crown lands have been witnessed. A general review indicates clearly that the change has been uniformly in the direction of removing impediments and increasing facilities for the settlement of the people, either as freeholders or as state tenants, on the land. Under the auction system the land was allotted to the highest bidder, with the result that the payment of the purchase-money frequently exhausted the resources of the settler, and subsequent relief had to be afforded by relaxation of the conditions of the agreement to purchase. Eventually land boards were created to allot selections to applicants at low rates and deferred purchase. Perpetual leases are now taking the place of absolute alienation. The tenure is equally good for all purposes of the bona-fide settler, and capital which would otherwise be sunk in acquiring the freehold is set free for making improvements, purchasing machinery and the manifold requirements of efficient husbandry. Small blocks of 20 acres, or not exceeding £100 of unimproved value, can be obtained by working men in the vicinity of towns, thus on the one hand affording the necessary supply of agricultural labour during the busy seasons, and on the other hand providing a homestead which the holder can with advan- tage cultivate at slack times when unemployed. Provision was made, under the Closer Settlement Act of 1897, for the repurchase of large estates for agricultural purposes; these lands are leased to farmers at an average rent of about 4! % on the value. The industry of wheat-growing has received an impetus through the system of drilling in a small quantity of phosphatic manure with the seed. By this means exhausted lands have been restored almost to primi- tive fertility. Vine-growing has now become one of the staple industries, and, owing to stringent precautions, the state remains free from the scourge of phylloxera. The great bulk of Agriculture the unalienated land of South Australia is held in huge and Water, areas by Crown tenants, known as squatters, under pastoral leases, which now have a currency of 42 years, with security of tenure. In 1893, when the unemployed were very numerous, the government established co-operative village settle- ments on tracts of land adjoining the river Murray. Seven of these are now in existence as irrigation colonies. The water is raised from the river by rotary pumps, and distributed by means of channels, after the plan adopted at Renmark. By the application of water to the adjacent sun-steeped soil miles of worthless mallee scrub have been converted into vistas of vineyards, orange groves and orchards. The paramount importance of water-supply and con- servation has received ever-increasing recognition. The Beetaloo reservoir has a capacity of 800,000,000 gallons, and from its 695 m. of trunk mains a district of over 1,000,000 acres is reticulated. The supply of Adelaide and its vicinity has been reinforced by a reservoir at Happy Valley, having a contour of about 7 J m. at high- water mark, and containing 2,950,000,000 gallons. The reservoir was formed by the construction of an earthen embankment 2645 ft. long and 72 ft. high ; this is filled from the Onkaparinga river through half a mile of steel main, 6 ft. in diameter, and 3 -J- m. of tunnel. Works on a large scale have also been constructed at Bundaleer and Barossa. The custom for many years past has been to construct these and other great public works departmentally instead of by contract. Many artesian wells have been sunk on the routes for travelling stock in the interior. The bores of some of these exceed 3000 ft. in depth, and the supply varies from 200,000 to 1,000,000 gallons a day. Around some of these wells in the far north planta- tions of date-palms have yielded excellent results.

South Australia was founded when the tide of the laissez-faire regime was running high, and a patriotic bias inthe customs tariff was regarded as an unwarrantable restriction; it is therefore not surprising that free trade should at the outset have received many adherents. There were not wanting, however, some who saw clearly that a country almost entirely occupied in primary production would prove but a barren field for the cultivation of the many-sided activity necessary to a complete national life. It was also main- tained that if inducements were given to capital to embark inhome industries, a cheapening of the product, due to approximation of supply and demand, would ensue. In accordance with these views, a protective tariff was adopted in 1885. Two years later the duties were increased and extended. The establishment of manufactures


and new industries opened a career for youths of inventive and mechanical aptitude, and in several instances the predicted reduction in price of the protected article has been strikingly manifested.

One of the most notable developments in public policy consisted in the extension of the sphere of the state so as to embrace activities formerly considered to be solely within the province of private enterprise. Railways from the outset have Government been government undertakings, so also have been Enterprise. waterworks of any degree of magnitude; telegraphs and telephones, taken over by the Commonwealth, have always been regarded as state monopolies. A public trustee undertakes, when desired, the administration of estates. In 1895 a state bank was established to provide farmers with the necessary working capital at lowest current rates of interest. A state produce d£p6t was also organized at the same time to assist farmers in placing their produce to the best advantage on the world's markets. Produce is received by the department of agriculture, prepared for shipment, certified as to quality, and graded. Small parcels from a number of producers are grouped together in one consignment and shipped at the lowest rates. The government of South Australia also undertakes, if so desired, to act as agent in London for the con- signor, and to arrange for the sale of his produce; so that a farmer who has no representative at the port of destination, but is desirous of ascertaining whether a profitable trade can be established in any class of produce, has only to send the goods to the depSt, and await .the arrival of a cheque when the sales accounts come to hand. An advance amounting to three-fifths of the value of the produce at 5 % is made if desired. Wine shipped through the produce dep6t is analysed and examined in bulk by government experts, and if found to be both sound and pure is sent to the bonded d6p6t in London with a certificate to that effect: this is recorded on the label of the bottles in which it is retailed, under the name of the " Orion " brand. Cyanide works have been erected in various centres for treating ore raised by miners working in the neighbourhood. State smelters for copper ore have been built at Port Augusta, but are not now in operation. There is a Factory Act permitting the establishment of wages boards, and also legislation providing for a weekly half- holiday and the early closing of shops. A compulsory Conciliation Act deals with the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes. The Right Hon. C. C. Kingston was the pioneer in Australasia of legislation of this description. These measures were at first denounced by some as Socialistic, and were regarded by many as an undue interference with private enterprise. Some of the state aids were, however, speedily recognized as affording additional incentives to industry, and by enabling producers and workers to obtain a better return for their labour may fairly be held to have assisted rather than to have retarded private enterprise. In 1893 a bonus on butter exported to the world's markets was successful in bringing into existence a fully equipped export trade. Public opinion in South Australia has little tolerance with laxity. Children are pre- vented from selling articles in the streets after 8 p.m., and are not allowed to fetch beer from public-houses. The age of consent has been raised to 17 years. The notification by medical men of cases of pulmonary tuberculosis to the local authorities is compulsory.

No pains have been spared to keep pace with modern improvements in popular education as an indispensable feature in democracy. South Australia holds in reverent and loving memory, the name of John Anderson Hartley, the originator of uca on the state school system, who died in 1896, and to whose character as a man and genius as an organizer the schools of South Australia will remain as a perennial monument. School fees for children under the compulsory age of 13 were abolished in 1891, and in 1898 the older children were also admitted free. Students in training have now the advantage of a two-years' course at the university. Technical education has received much attention. A foundation was long ago laid in the primary schools by the inclusion of drawing as a compulsory subject, and by affording facilities for manual training. In 1889 the South Australian School of Mines and Industries was established, and under the presidency of Sir Langdon Bonython proved a most valuable institution. Other technical schools are in operation in industrial and mining centres. A reserve of 2 acres is attached to all new country schools, and systematic lessons in practical agriculture are given by many teachers. In order to encourage tree-planting, a yearly school holiday devoted to this purpose, and known as Arbor Day, was established in 1886. With a similar object the state has distributed, free of charge, 5,000,000 forest trees to 21,000 persons. Over 1,250000 vines have also been given away. The boys' field club (1887), with the motto "The Naturalist loves Life," under the direction of Mr W. C. Grasby, was one of the pioneers of Nature-study. A state secondary school for girls has been for many years self-supporting, and in 1897 secondary agricultural schools for boys were organized in Adelaide and other centres. Half the school hours of each day are spent in the class-room, the remainder being devoted to workshop, field and laboratory practice. An agricultural college at Roseworthy, 25 m. north of Adelaide, imparts a high-class theoretical and practical training in the various branches of agriculture, including viticulture and wine-making. The fee charged is £30 a year, including__board and lodging. Information