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OUR SYDNEY LETTER, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 404, 25 July 1881
OUR SYDNEY LETTER
(FROM omi OWN CORRESPONDENT.) Sydney, J uly 9.
The opening of Parliament here generally causes a stir, but the second session of the tenth Parliament, which opened on Tuesday, caused an unusual commotion. The ceremony was marked with more than usual eclat, for no previous session has been opened with more brilliant or imposing surroundings. Macquarie street was in fete form from an early hour. Long before noon, the hour fixed for the reading of His Excellency’s address to the House, this fashionable thoroughfare was the scene of unusual liveliness and interest. Carriages began to line the footpaths, and elegantly-attired ladies, anxious to be early and secure a good seat from which to witness the pageant and hear the Speech, took their places, and waited with stoical patience for the proceedings to commence. The balconies of the villas opposite the Parliament House were thronged with gazers, and less privileged sight seers blocked the footways. The weather was everything that could be desired, and as the morning drew on towards mid-day the bustle quickened and the populace grew more dense. The members began to arrive, “ some ” in their own carriages with their wives and families, some solus in a modest cab, while others strolled up leisurely, as on any other day of the session. The guard of honor, consisting of 100 picked men from the Permanent Force, marched up the street from the Paddington Barracks, and took their places inside the palisading, looking a remarkably fine body of regulars. The few minutes to the hour were filled up 13y the arrival of fashionable ladies and dignitaries, civil, military, and naval, until every available seat in the “ House of Lords ” was filled, and all the approaches were packed by those who were eager to hear Lord Loftus if they could not see him. As the stroke of 12 was heard, the batteries at Dawe’s Point rang out the vice-regal salute of seventeen guns, and, as this was the signal for his Excellency’s leaving Government House, expectation was on tip-toe, until the State carriage rolled through the Parliament gates. The body of troopers, with drawn swords, who rode ahead, were followed by a large s aff of mounted officer ; of varioir- b*-,. dies of the Colonial m.htary for;:, , 1 then came his Excellency’s carriage, v, ith the usual powdered footmen, and high stepping bays. The guard of honor, whose bright accoutrements and spotless belts would pleased a martinet, presented arms, and the band played “ God save the Queen,” while the Governor was being received by the President of the Legislative Council, and Sir John Robertson, leader of the Government in that Chamber. Inside the Chamber, as his Excellency entered, the scene was a splendid one. On the right and left were the members of the House, their well-cut broadcloth contrasting well with the superb toilets of the crowded tiers of ladies, whose dresses of every mode and color vied with the splendid uniforms of naval and military officers, the stars and medals of foreign consuls and other notabilities. A hushed silence of a few minutes, and the Sergeant-at-Arms having summoned the “faithful Commons,” his Excellency began, with dignified self-posses-sion, to unfold the programme of the session. Each paragraph was listened to most attentively. The Speech over, and his Excellency and suite departed, the Chamber was quickly cleared, and in a few minutes none of the pomp of the ancient usages of the British Parliament remained to show the session had been begun. The land question is coming to the front once more, and this time it is not likely to be shirked as it has been hitherto. It is extraordinary that any people should have permitted a Government or set of men to monopolise the administration and distribution of such a splendid estate as that which the Imperial Government acquired by right of annexation, and subsequently bestowed by deed of gift upon the colonists. Our land laws have been and are of the most mischievous and wasteful character, and, what is still more remarkable, the men who are primarily responsible for them are still permitted to hold the positions in which they have proved so dangerous. It is notorious that Sir John Robertson’s measures have all served a sinister purpose, and accomplished the very thing they were ostensibly designed to prevent, namely, the formation of great landed estates. Everybody knows how the free selection clauses of the Land Bill of 1861 have worked. There is. no need to refer to statistics to show that there is no “ bold peasantry ” to be the “ country’s pride,” in proportion to the vast areas that have been alienated from the Crown. The fact is, that a large proportion of the free-selectors are men without means, who keep a few head of cattle and contribute very little to the general prosperity of the country. We do not even supply ourselves with breadstuffs, and have to look abroad for the staff of lif:. Added to this, we have the unpleasant remembrance that wherever new lines of railway are to be constructed, it is invariably discovered that the route lies through newly-selected country, apparently taken up with the single view of compensation. Then the finances of the country are unwholesomely affected by the revenue derived from the sale of this land, and the present Government, like many of its predecessors, rests under the humiliating stigma that it permits the colony to live upon capital account. This state of things would be unpardonable in a country where it is hard to make ends meet, but for New South Wales, in a condition of unprecedented prosperity, to make her patrimony in such a manner is positively dishonest. A few more questions such as that of “ringbarking,” considered in the light of an improvement, have cropped up in Parliament lately, and the tone adopted, in the debate clearly shows that there is something “ in the wind,” which will ' presently make itself felt. Mr Foster, J too, sounded a key note which must j have chorded with the feelings of |
every thinking man in the community, when he addressed the editor of the Herald early this week, in the words, “You may not think the land question to be of paramount importance, but I do.” This was written inconsequence of the omission of a portion of de hon. gentleman’s speech at Gundagai, from, the report given hv the leading journal’s correspondent. Mr Foster has had occasion (•' grow rancorous in opposition more titan once since his return, but his calm demeanour to those whose know him, is merely the premonitory of a terrific onslaught upon those who, though they are in power, have many weak points. Before the end of the session we may be more enlightened upon this subject. A fresh outbreak of small-pox has been reported. Although not in the city, but in the Liverpool district (some 13 miles from Sydney), it has caused renewed uneasiness. The police getting a clue to the whereabouts of the sick man, proceeded to a house belonging to a Chinaman named Leon Lee, and requested him to give up the patient. He, with eight other Mongols, answered, “No savee; no sick man here.” The police surrounded the dwelling, preventing any exit possible, and search being made, a Chinaman was found in a room which was locked. The eruption was very strongly marked on the forehead and wrists, and he was found in a very critical state. After the Chinamen had been secured by the constables, they were driven into Sydney, and immediately conveyed in a steam launch to the quarantine station. ‘ The building in which the Chinaman was found, was burnt to the ground, by order of the authorities. The Chinese residents of Sydney are in a very agitated state of mind, fearing that an annual tax upon them will be imposed. It is understood that efforts will be made to have the Chinese question from the Chinese point of view, advocated in the advertising columns of the press, and on the public platform. It is bad enough to be burdened with the Chinamen themselves, but it is infinitely worse that we should submit to have a pestilence forced upon us by the wilful violation of the laws enacted for the preservation of the public health. Two fresh cases were reported this morning (Saturday), one at the Glebe, and the other at Sussex street. In both instances steps were taken without delay to isolate the houses and the people resident therein. The inmates, numbering in all fourteen, will be removed to the quarantine station this afternoon. The outbreak ofsraall-pox unfortunately begins to assume alarming appearances, the decrease being in a confluent form. The Laycock Testimonial Fund has now reached the handsome sum of L7OO. This amount will shortly be presented to him in one of our Theatres.
The squadron left Melbourne on Friday r.f ernoon for Sydney, and as they come up the coast under canvas, will, in all probability, arrive about Monday afternoon. The Masonic ball, which is to be given under the patronage of the Princes, at the Exhibition building, promises to be a great success. Besides the Royal visitors, his Excellency the Governor (Lord Loftus), Earl Clan william, Commodore Wilson, Captain Hixison of the Naval Brigade, and other distinguished guests, will be present The enttee to the ball not being restricted to Masons, a large company is expected to be present. The ball was purposely postponed in order that the Princes and their gallant commander might be able to attend. The proceeds will be in aid of the Freemasons’ Benevolent Fund.
Larrikinism has become so rampant in New South Wales that it has been found necessary to frame a Bill to deal with the dissolute youths of Sydney. The police here while in the execution of duty are daily assailed and maltreated by sets of ruffians, whose only object seems to be to break the peace. Public property, to the value of hundreds of pounds, is monthly destroyed, much to the inconvenience of those who reap no benefit therefrom. When the Bill is brought forward it is to be hoped that this particular social evil will not be dealt with too sentimentally or tenderly. Mr Horatio Thurston, an old resident of Mudgee, died during the week. He was a brother of the Hon. J. B. Thurston, Colonial Secretary of Fiji.
The stringent quarantine regulations adopted by the Government of New South Wales has had the desired effect of putting a check on Chinese immigration. The Sydney agents of a shipping firm telegraphed to China, advising the agents there that if they had any Chinese passengers on board the vessels they were about to despatch to Sydney, they must look forward to a period of prolonged quarantine. The effect of this warning was that a shipload of Chinamen, whose passages had been paid, were sent ashore, and their passage money returned. Other shipping firms in the same line of business will doubtless be compelled to follow suit.
The first consignment of English fresh fish to Sydney was submitted to auction on board the Orient steamship Cuzco this week. The fish were in splendid condition, and comprised salmon, soles, turbot and cod, each assortment being well assorted. The salmon in baskets brought from 3s 6d to 7s per lb ; soles, 3s gd alb ; and forced, is 1 id; turbot averaging is 6d. The competition was not so brisk here as in Melbourne, where the unsold portion will be taken if not sold privately. The fish were so firmly frozen together that when taken from the refrigerating room they could only be separated with the aid of iron instruments. The demand being great and supply small, the Coffee Palaces charged 3s to everyone partaking of salmon.
OUR SYDNEY LETTER, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 404, 25 July 1881
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