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OUR AUSTRALIAN LETTER., Issue 7990, 20 August 1889
OUR AUSTRALIAN LETTER.
[From Odp. Onyx Correspondent. ] MiamußN'R, August 14, POLITICAL. The debate in the Victorian Parliament on the Budget proceeds without much interest being infused into it. That the Government has nothing to fear is already apparent, for, along with the leader of the Opposition, tiie chairman of the country p.'.rty has spoken without any amendment being proposed. The latter (Mr M'Lean) simply expounded the view of the farmers’ representatives, who desire an increase of the stock tax, and having done so much sat down, The number of members who support tile stock tax is comparatively small; they arc stationed on both sides of the House, and they have not combined, The members on ilia Government side are not ; disposed to support any motion hostile to ; the Government, because, although the iui creased stock tax is not conceded, the many good tilings which are to be done in the i interests of those who live in the country are not to bo despised. The plums •which i Mr Gillies is able to distribute by means of i his “booming” Budget are luscious and enticing, and the country members know i that the mouths of their constituents arc watering for them. There is the prospect, ! then, that the debate will only last so long i as to enable certain members to put themselves right before their constituents—a ; monotonous and uninteresting proceeding—but, in their eyes, a very necessary one. The fruit growers of Sydney are up in ■ arms against the proposal to increase the ; duty on green fruit imported into Victoria, At a meeting last week the action of the Victorian Government was protested against in vigorous terms, and a resolution was carried expressing an opinion that, in view of Mr Gillies having deprecated tariff changes of a character calculated to seriously injure trade with the other colonies, the proposal to double the duty on fresh fruit had not been sufficiently considered. It was pointed out that the fruit, principally oranges and lemons, exported from New South Wales to Victoria was valued at about LIOO.OOO a-year, that tho duty and charges had hitherto protected the Victorian fruitgrowers to the extent of about 42-J per cent., and that the proposed increase in the duty would raise the protective margin to about 08 per cent. It was represented that the proposed higher duty would cause a fading off in the trade, and a heavy loss to many others besides fruit-growers and exporters in New South Wales, The undesirable feeling which is likely to lie generated in the sister colonies against Victoria if she does not pursue a more conciliatory intercolonial policy may be gathered from tho following letter which appeared iu the Hobart ‘ Mercury ’ on the Gidi inst. JIOYCOIT ME i BOURNE. Sir, —The pioposed alterations in the Victorian tariff, published this morning, ara worthy of the selfish policy so persistently followed by that colony, and our only defence is retaliation in every possible way I would form a league to educate our people to boycott everything which touches Melbourne. As a large fruitgrower, I would soon induce our people not to 1 buy a tree grown in Melbourne nurseries. As one paying heavy cheques every year to Felton, Grimwaclc, and other Melbourne firms, I am quite prepared to close ray accounts there and go to .Sydney; and, as a consumer, I would bo only too glad to go without meat altogether rather than patronise a butcher who killed Victorian cattle and sheep ; and if they pass this tariff, and my grocer persists in rushing Swallow and Ariell’a biscuits, a? ho did some time ago, I will find another grocer. I ask all the other fruit-growers, as well as sawmillcrs, if they will unite with me in this movement. My nom deplume is well known, but you are welcome to give them my name.—l am, etc., Tomahawk, THE NATIONAL HANK FRAUDS. A sequence to tho frauds which were committed upon the National Bank in Melbourne some time ago by George L. Onyans is that a verdict has been obtained by Mr John Goodall for the recovery of L 6.000 against tho Australian Freehold Banking Corporation. Debentures to the value of the amount stated had been lodged by IMr Goodall with tho National Bank, and they had been stolen by Onyans, who was a confidential clerk, and given to the defendant bank for advances. The Jury found that the defendant bank had been guilty of negligence in not taking the trouble to ascertain whether Onyans became lawfully possessed of the debentures, it knowing at the time that it made advances on them that he was employed in tho National Bai k, and that debentures of that character were often left with such institutions for safe keeping. This practically was a verdict for j the plaintiff; but the result of the case will wholly depend on a law point which was reserved for the Full Court as to whether debentures being, like bank notes, negotiable instruments, and transferable on delivery, it was not sufficient proof that a person holding them was the bona fide owner of them, and that therefore no inquiries were, as a matter of law, necessary, so that there could have been no negligence whatever on the part of the defendant bank.
A suit instituted by the trusteed of the will of the late Mr Henry Dyer against the National Bank has also resulted in a verdict being given for the plaintiffs for L 4.927, the value, with accrued interest, of debentures which were held by the bank and stolen by Onyans. The questions as to whether, under the contract which existed between the plaintiffs and the defendant, the latter could by law bo held responsible for the Bate custody o£ the debentures, and as to whether any evidence of actionable negligence on the part of the defendant had been offered in the case have, however, been referred to the Full Court to decide. Onyans was called upon to give evidence in the cases, and detailed the difierent ways in which he managed to steal tho debentures. One of them, as related by himself, was us follows:—“I would go to Mr Shillinglaw, the accountant, and tell him that the interest on certain debentures, naming the numbers of the envelopes in which they were contained, was about to fall due, and that I desired to cut the coupons off them so that the interest could be collected, Mr Shillinglaw and I, who occupied a room adjoining the strong-room, then unlocked the door of the strong-room, and opened the safe with our different keys, and he took the envelopes out of the safe aud handed them to me, at tho same time taking a list of the numbers on the envelopes given to me. We locked the safe and the door again, and I sat at my table, which was close to his, in the same room, and I took tho debentures out of the envelopes and cut tho coupons off. After I had done that I ioforraed Mr .Shillinglaw that I had completed the work, and took the debentures and envelopes over to his table so that he could check them with the register and see that I returned them to him correctly—that was, that I gave him the light number back. When I desired to appropriate debentures I took several of them over to him at once. After ho had checked the first parcel and put them in the envelope, on finding them correct, he handed tho envelope to me to keep by me for a few minutes whilst he checked tho other parcels and put them in their respective envelopes, handing me the envelopes as he completed tho checking. Whilst ho was engaged in checking another parcel of the debentures I used to stealthily open one of the envelopes which ho had just previously handed me as being correct, and abstract tho whole of the debentures in that envelope, Of a part of them. As soon as I bad taken tho debentures out of the envelope I dropped them on one side of my table. When Air Shillinglaw had finished the checking I carried the envelopes to the strong room, and ho went with me and deposited them in the safe.” “ Another way in which I gained possession of debentures,” Onyans staled, “was that there were a number of debentures belonging to the bank which had to be sent to England to be sold there from time to time. I used to go to Mr Shillinglaw, or Mr Richardson, the chief clerk, who acted in his place when he was away, and tell him that an envelope of a certain number in tho safe contained the debentures I wished to forward to London. We would unlock the doors with our keys, and Mr Shillinglaw would take that particular envelope out of the safe and hand it to me without examining its contents. Had he done so he would have seen at once that the debentures therein were not those belonging to the bank, aa I bad represented, but to some private individual. I knew, however, from experience that Mr Shillinglaw was uot in the habit of looking at the contents of the envelopes on handing them to me out of the safe. It was only when I returned debentures to him to be replaced in the safe that lie cheeked the contents of the envelopes. I would abstract tho debentures which belonged to private individuals out of that envelope, and would then substitute for them part of tho debentures belonging to the bank, which were not kept in the safe, and which were intended for Loudon. After having exchanged the debentures I would take those belonging to the bank, and intended for London, to Mr Shillinglaw, and he would check them, after which they were duly forwarded to Loudon.” It will thus ho seen that, had the accountant done bis duty properly and examined the contents of the envelopes when he was returning them to the safe, the frauds could never have been committed. Furthermore, had the bank auditors examined tho documents in tho safe instead of taking everything for g’acted, Dayans could not have gone on thieving so long as he did. So much for bank management. THE DEFAULTING DANK MANAGER. William Thompson, late manager of the Colonial Bank at Yam Glen, who by means of forgery aud embezzlement defrauded the lunk of L1,C27 7s .'id, was brought before His Honor Judge Hamilton for sentence last week. It was urged on behalf of the prisoner that he was a young man wiio had been in a very responsible position on a salary of LlO5 per annum, and that he had probably been placed in temptation through his desire to push tho business of the bank. His Honor, in passing sentence, said that the prisoner had pleaded guilty to four distinct offences, aud they had extended over a period of little more than six months. The frauds which he committed were serious, and at the time they were committed the prisoner was in a position of importance and trust, Tho position was one that was eagerly sought for aud coveted by young men of education and good standing in the community. The prisoner was placed in a district where ho was not exposed to temptation in the matter of expenses, and yet he took L 1,028, the property of his employers, who were entitled to his good services and protection against such frauds as he had committed. When persons in positions of trust, such as the prisoner had occupied, committed offences against property', tho offences were worse than in cases in which no trust was reposed. It was necessary that the punishment in the case must be severe. It had been said that the prisoner’s wife was in poor circumstances, but it was one of the unfortunate things attendant on crimes that they entailed disastrous results, not only on the perpetrators, but also on their relatives and friends. The sentence of the Court was five years’ imprisonment, the first and third days of every fourth month of the first and last year of detention to be passed in solitary confinement.
OUR AUSTRALIAN LETTER., Issue 7990, 20 August 1889
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