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Australian Politics.

A few weeks ago a cablegram from London was published in the newspapers, stating thifc some sensation had been caused by the publication in ' Macmillan's Magazine' of an article by Mr B. R. Wise, late AttorneyGeueral of Kew South Wales, with the above title. We have now received tho ' Magnzine,' and quote the following passages : " A general olection has lately taken place in the thre; largest colonies—New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria, In each of these contests the Irish vote has played an important p;>rt. In New South Wales it was given as a block vote in favor of Protection. In Victoria, where the fiscal question was not at issue, it was given as a block vote to the publicans with a pious opinion in favor of Freetrade. In Queensland it was given as a black vote in favor of ' Nationalism.' Through _ all these inconsistencies there is one guiding clue; in every case the vote was cast against tho Government. The explanation of this is partly connected with religion and partly with politics. The Irhh priesthood, in strict obedience to the teachings of their chuich, desire to get control of the public schools ; while the Irish laity who are not guided by the priesttnod desire to get control of the public cilices, Public opinion, however (possibly owing to is not inclined to assist the Irish in realising either of these wishes. In Australia, as in America, tho Irish have always formed a party by themselves ; and it cannot be said that the illustrations which they have given of their power to govern have been entirely satisfactory. Twice in the history of Victoria the Catholic parly has been in power, once under Sir John O'Shanassey, and once under Sir Bryan O'Loghlen; and the lesson which waa then taught has never been forgotten either in Victoria or in the other colonies. With an instinctive capacity for political organisation, eloquence, industry, and administrative power, Irishmen in office, when they are supported by an Irish ma* jority, have (in Australia at all events) shown themselves entirely without a sense of responsibility in the expenditure of public money, The Administrations beforo referred to, liko the succession of Administrations which ruled in New South Wales by the support of the Irish party from 1883 to 1887, are pre-eminent in Australian history for their wreckless extravagance in public works. Whatever Government may be in power, the Irish arc the great billethunters ; five applicants out of every six for any Government appointment, however poorly paid, are certain to bear Irish names. Tho desire, therefore, of the Irish as a party to get the control of patronage into their own hands is very strong, and partly explains tho solidity of the Irish vote. Cut tho tic which binds the party together is more religious than political. The educated Irish, who unfortunately form an insignificant minority among their Australian compatriots, together with the few English Catholics, who in Australia are almost invariably men of the highest attainments and character, arc, of course, in no degree influenced by the mero desire for power. They cannot, however, iguore the religious basis upon which their party rests?. In every part of the world the Catholic Church is making an effort to obtain the control of primary instruction. It has been noticed, too, that the political sympathies of the clergy arc wide and incalculable. Only two years ago in New South Wales the Protectionists were a small body of Sydney artisans, most of whom were Protectant?. Since that time Sir Henry Parkes, tho author of the Education Act, pronounced strongly for Freetrade, and in two years every Irish member, with only one exception, has become a Protectionist, and nearly every Irish vote in the colony is cast against Freetrade. In Victoria, whore there are signs of a revival of Freetrade, the majority of Irishmen oppose Protection. In New South Wales the Irish clergy, under the iniluence of Cardinal Moran, are supporting the cause of temperance. In Victoria they have ostentatiously espoused the cause of the publicans. In Queensland the Irish party were the noisiest Nationalists ; in New South Wales the only Imperialists we have are the leaders of the Irish Protectionist party. The explanation of these suspicious alliances is easy. They are in every instance connected with the fight that the Catholic Church is making to upset the educational system. . . . This attitude of tho Irish and Catholic party, which is also that of a section of the Anglican Church, foreshadows a great struggle with Clericalism. The wealth of the Catholic Church in Australia is enormous, and the Propaganda at Rome appears to be acting upon Canning's principle and really calling into existence a new world to recompense tho Church for its declining power in Europe. Within the last seven years churches, schools, colleges, seminaries, nunneries, sisterhoods, and monastic orders have been founded or established in all the Australian colonies, and are many of them under the control of Frenchmen, Italians, and Englishmen of exceptional ability, who present a marked contrast to the illiteracy of tho ordinary country priest. In addition, largo sums of money have been raised in Australia and granted by Rome for the purchase of land and the erection of buildings ; and all this increase of power and improvement of organisation has taken place while the other religious bodies are inactive and declining in authority. Nowhere is it more difficult than in a young country to forecast the future; but it seems plain from present indications that, unless some new and modifying influence asserts itself, the scene of the struggle between Church and Liberty will be changed from France to Australia. . . . The conditions of the comparison aro thus considerably in favor of Victoria, yet what is the result ? Victoria, who, when sho was a Freetrade colony, was in everything which indicates material progress ahead of New South Wales, has been steadily falling behind in the race since she adopted Protection. In 1866 the Victorian revenue was one million more, in 1888 it was one million less, tiian that of New South Wales. In 1566 the imports into Victoria were valued at five millions more than those into New South Wales; last year the imports into Victoria only exceeded those into New South Wales by one million. In 1866 the exports from Victoria were valued at three millions more than those from Now South Wales ; last year they were seven millions less. In 1566, under Freetrade, Victoria, had already a considerable manufacturing industry, whereas New South Wales could hardly be spoken of as a manufacturing colony. Yet in 1887 New South Wales employed in her manufacturing industries 45,783 hands out of a population of a million, with a machinery of 26,152 horse-power, while Victoria employed 45,773, with a machinery of 21,018 horsepower, showing a surplus in favor o/f New South Wales—small, it is true, but still a surplu?. In only ono respect has Victoria advanced more rapidly than New South Wale3—namely, in agriculture. In this respect she has increased the lead over New South Wales which she possessed in 1866. She has increased her cultivation fivefold, while New South Wales has increased hers barely threefold. But in the faco of the protracted drought in tho latter colony, and the superior adaptability of Victorian soil to agriculture, increase in this respect cannot outweigh tho testimony of decline given by other facts. It is impossible, indeed, to resist the conclusion that the progress of one colony he>s been hampered by Protection, while the progress of the other has been furthered by Freetrade. Should good seasons return, and the affairs of the country be carefully and economica ly managed, there is no fear that New South Wales will give up the policy under which her progress has been so phenomenal; and should there be any reaction in England in favor of a restrictive policy, she may yet play the part of the nurturing daughter and k ep alive the mother of her freedom by the support of her example.

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Australian Politics., Evening Star, Issue 7995, 26 August 1889

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Australian Politics. Evening Star, Issue 7995, 26 August 1889