MELBOURNE TOWN TALK.
(From 6de owit Cowlespondhni.) The sensation of the week has been furnished by the diecoYory of an extensive series of franda m the Titleß Office, by which the public fnnds have suffered to the extent of come £20,000 to £30,000. No very precise particulars are known yet, but what has come to light has culminated In the arrest, on warrant, of Mr J. F. Butler, the working head of the registry department since the deport nre for England of Mr Gibbs, the registrar of titles, who had to get leave of abaenco on account of 'sickness An extensive series ef frauds In connection with tho issuing of licence stamps has come to light, which frauds it is now known, hare been carried on for years past. It is at present impossible to say 10 how mach the defalcation* amount to, but it is thought £30,000 won't cover it. Others are said to be concerned besides Mr Butler, and it is probable that, before long, farther arrests will be made, of officials oooupying a prominent place In tho Til lee Office. Tbm fraad* are of two kinds. Insurance Ooapanlei have to pay an annual license fee of 30s on every £100 of gross premium thty receive, and on applying for a pew license esoh year, most tender this charge on the past twelve monthb 1 transactions. It then goes to stampage on the newly Iftaed lietnee A very simple mods of fraud was thus opensd for Mr Butler. Be simply did not Issue the license paid for, but advertised them In the Government " Gtzitte." Most of the Insurances Companies were satlsied with this, and Batler must thus have f raodoloutly appropriated thousands. Some Idea may be Slued of the magnitude of the sams volved, when It is mentioned that nome oompanlei m town pay as much as £750 a fear lloense fee» Butler's second method aeems to have been to take the stamps (rake up to £100 eaoh) from old lloens *, and paste them on to new ones of a corf tspondlng date, Thas a eanoelled stamp to date, say, 3/10/86 conld be easily altered to 3/10/89, and thus at onoe, by this startling simple method, was a fraud or • large amount committed. The sbookfpg lszity end idlooy of aooh a system cannot be too strongly reprehended, and the public now will Dot be satisfied until the whole matter of the public service Is thoroughly Investigated end overhauled. A general outcry is being railed against the laxity of rule that obtains m the various Departments ~-ther are a veritable Augean stable, and want * thorough sweeping. But I em afraid other Government functionaries want judicious flagellation besides the Publle feervlce. The close of the present Parliamentary session is seeing ■ome dlsgraoef al scenes In the Boaie, and for the sake of the colony's dignity I am longing for the dlssolatlon to draw Its tell over hon. members and their doings. The Eleotoral Bill Is the casua belli. The •eenee that have taken place are positively disgraceful, end the language bandied to and fro more disgraoefal still. The Premier hes been charged with coming to the House drank ; the Ministerial bench apostrophised as " a set of cads" end " a horde of blackguards," and tha Ministry Informed that it " w«i dinging to offine like barnacles to a pier." The Chief Secretary— generally a moderate mangeld on Tuesday evening, "the whole proceedings have lately been of the Christy Minstrel type, and to-night they have been oarrled out with more bclat than usual." A disheartening end undignified ploture this, and It Is greatly to be hoped the forthcoming eleotione will show another state of things m the next Parliament. I notice from Mr Hayt«r, the Government etatist's report m his Annual Year Book, that the population of Melbourne m December last reaohed 491,000, which practically means half a million now. victoria contains, according to the same authority, 1,020,000 souls ; so that, actually, Melbourne has almost one half of the whole. I never thought the numbers wore so disproportionate, and I regret it more than ever. The country districts will never get justice done them until this craze for centralisation finds its level. I wonder what it is drawn people to the metropolis bo much, for Melbourne is getting a second London m crowding and competition? No wonder the country cries out " Neglect 1" " Neglect 1' continually, for this overgrown, disproportionate, greedy city of ours seeks to Kssess everything. As it is, Victoria is c a tadpole— all head and no body, and there must be a great and vital metamorphosis before it attains the dignity of a full-sized frog. But to return to Mr Hayter's Tear Book* I found the volume most fascinating reading, and a& I am aa a rule rather given to light writing, I mean to give my readers en revancht some stern statistics to finish up with To me the following figures seem however highly interesting, and they undoubtedly give a good Idea of what's going on m this little cabbage garden of a colony of ours. First then, it Is surprising to learn that more than half the Victorians are natlvo born, and of course aa time rolls on the British element will become let* aud lees. Of aborigines we have only now 800 ; a few short years I suppose, will sea the extinction of tbe Victorian blackfellow altogether. Now, fot farther figures. Victoria con talc a one-third of the Inhabitants of Australia and two-seventbi of the whole Australasian Eoup. Our marriage rate is the highest the world) an unanswerable tribute to oar domestic and rcarttal virtues, and a conoluilve answer to tho silly question now being ventilated m the papers, " Why don't the men propose j" But not only do our folks marry but they multiply exceedlngly. for the averaea number of children per marriage Is 4 §4, a state of fraltfalnesi only beaten by Ould Oire*
with 5 40. Bat the death rate : that ia bad— thanks to Melbourne. Ia the oountry It ti 15 with a dcolmal ; In Mel* boarne 20. This moans that flvo more persons m every thousand dio In Molbourae than the count- y. A big d'ffirenos truly, and of oouraoowlDj toonr defeotive drainage, overcrowding, and bad sanl'atlon Bat enough of Bgurss for one timo. 1 Have ran over the principal hoads, and really whon one think* of it, they make qulto Interooting reading. I hopa my read a? may think bo, and thaa I say Addio
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 1984, 31 October 1888
MELBOURNE TOWN TALK. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 1984, 31 October 1888
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