Farmers and Protection.
fFrom the Australasian.)
Mr Thomsen; In -t!te~*nterview-wmi-»tr-Bryan O’Loghlen, briefly formulated the farmers’ claims as follows :—“ What the deputation asked for was that all duties should be removed from their implements, machinery, &c., and they said they were willing to have the protection taken away from agricultural produce,” to which Sir Bryan O’Loghlen, on behalf of the Government, replied—“ That is entirely opposed to the fiscal policy of the country, and the Government has not the slightest intention of doing it. . . . The Government were determined to carry out the policy of protection, and if any change was to be made, the country would have get other men to carry it out.” This is explicit and tangible, and the Attorney-General is to be thanked for the perfect frankness with which he repudiated the demands of the farming class. The Government was brought to the point' that it had to choose between the support of the farmers and of the protective classes in town, and it deliberately and decisively electa to stick by the latter. The farmers now know exactly how they stand, and unless they choose to forego their claims and content themselves with the crumbs of concession doled out to them by the Government, their next appeal must be to the ballotbox.
It was the very extravagance of impudent assurance that dictated Sir Bryan O’Loghlen’s prayer to the farmers to refrain from taking a “ selfish class view." Selfish class view ! This, indeed, comes well from men whose whole scheme of policy has been the systematic sacrifice of jjie interests of the community at large to those of a limited class, who are supported by being enabled to carry on their industries at the expense of the colony in general and the farmer in particular. Sir Bryan O’Loghlen proceeded to tell the farmers that “ the protectionist policy had provided them with an enormous home market.” But this is what the evidence of statistics shows, as we have recently pointed out, protection has utterly faded to accomplish. The official statistics of the various Australian colonies show that not only is the import and export trade of this colony falling off rapidly as compared with the other colonies, hut that our rate of growth of population during the last six years has been less than half that of New South Wales and South Australia. In those colonies where the farmer Is not mulcted in protective duties, the expansion of (he home market for his produce is at more than double the rate than it is in Victoria. These facts are beyond all possibility of dispute, and in the face of them what becomes of Sir Bryan O’Loghlen’g unblushing, assertion of the “ enormous home market,” protection provides them with ?
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