Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/363

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have indulged, regarding what the future has in store for these great southern hinds. There is, it must needs be admitted, a substantial foundation on which the prophet is at liberty to build. Abounding in vast and still undeveloped resources, possessing large areas of unoccupied territory, blessed with many safe and commodious harbours, and enjoying the freest of free constitutions, there is nothing to prevent the Australian colonies becoming, at no distant date, a second America, a national safety-valve, a home for millions. Manhood suffrage is the almost universal law, and no restriction whatever is placed, nor would it be tolerated for an instant, on the free and untrammelled exercise of the franchise. Practically, every man who can sign his name, and is not suffering under any legal disability, has a potential voice in the making of the laws by which he is governed. It is to the operation of this grand principle, that the Irishmen of the antipodes have been enabled to exert their due influence on the conduct of public affairs; to send, as representatives to their local parliaments, men of ability chosen from their own ranks; and, on occasions, by the weight of their united sentiment and generous indignation, have succeeded in keeping off the colonial statute-book some of those legislative enactments that have been productive of lamentable evils in the land of their birth. The Celtic element of the Australian population has, in fine, proved a valuable factor in the work of building up new states, and founding free, intelligent and enlightened communities beneath the Southern Cross.