The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23, 1889. PROTECTION IN VICTORIA.
In the midst of the conflict of opinion as to the relative merits of a Freetrade or a Protectionist policy it is well to turn from theory to fact occasionally and to read what the "cbiels that winna : ding " have to say about the matter. 1 Judging from the following extract from • the letter of a Wellington gentleman, now m Victoria, pur friends across tbe [ water have much reason to congratulate , themselves upon the fiscal policy they have adopted. Writing of Ballarat, he says : — " Trade is brisk, competition is 1 keen, and profits are small, but business j; is sound. Two kinds of local indastrieß are of special interest — the iron foundries ' and woollen mills. At the Vulcan I foundry the most elaborate machinery ia T turned out Ten years ago most of tlje J local mining maohinery was imported, 8 now the great bulk of it is made at ' Ballarat. The local article is cheaper a to the buyers, because it can be • repaired on the spot. With the imported article it is necessary to purchase duplicates and at times much inconvenienpe was experienced by the delay j caused m replacing nuts, bolts, anjj other intricate parts of a machine. Ihe Phoanix Foundry at Ballarat turns out the Victorian railway locomotives ; while tbe Government, for tbe last, ten years, imported 30, the local firms have I supplied £30, A(; the present time their output will average pne g week. > Tbe local engines do their work cheaper and better than the imported ones. The Phoenix Foundry employs 950 1 bands. Tbe minimum rate of wages , is 10s a day. With the exception , of pig iron, frame and boiler plates, ) and steel axles, costing to import , altogether about £20, the locomotive is • made from start to finjsU m Victoria. 1 The local woollen m\\s employ 2^o ' hands, and one of the factories is preparing superior worsted goods. This branch of tbe industry necesQit»te4 them ' bringing out skilled labor from England. An impetus has recently been given to the worsted manufacture by the £5000 premium. offered by Government for tbe first 10,000 yards of cloth, This new feature of production may now be considered fairly started, and is gaining every day m popularity. Agriculture surrounding Ballarat is m a very flourishing state. Hundreds of farmers are settled m the immediate vicinity. 'Ihe value of their estates is oonptanj-ly on the increase. At the present time, within a fevr miles of the city, wheat and potato land is worth from £30 to £60 an acre. ; Back ten or fifteen mile?, land is valued at from £15 to £25 an acre. The position held by Ballarat to-day is convincing proof of the benefits of protactioD, Originally a city of gold mines, it is now the centre of manufactures and agriculture. To every one miner employed there are at least tbpee persons employed m manufactures, Wbpn mining comparatively failed, proteption held tbe population by supplying fresh avenues of industry." Facts such as these, will we know, be unpalatable to those politico-economistß who make a fetish of Freetrade, and who swear by Gobden as an infallible teacher, but they are especially valuable as proving that tbe oft-repeated croak of freetraders that a protective policy is inimical to the interests of farmers is t[ie reverse of the fact, the truth being — as shown* by the letter under notice — that . tbe farmere benefit by the impetus given to lecal manufacturing industries by a protective policy and by the large consuming population which those industries bring together.