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OUR AUSTRALIAN LETTER.

[From Our Melbourne Correspondent.] Wednesday, August 20. THE VICTORIAN POLITICAL SITUATION. Since the last mail a development of some importance has taken place in connection with Victorian politics. When the Legislative Assembly met last Tuesday there was every prospect of the Government obtaining ready acceptance of their Budget proposals and a speedy termination to debate. An arrangement had in fact been come to between the Premier (Mr Gillies) and the leader of the Opposition (Mr Munro) that the discussion should be brought to a close within a week, but these leaders had “calculated without their host,” who, on this occasion, proved to be Mr M'Lean, the chairman of the “ country ” or stock tax party. It should be understood that when the tariff proposals were first brought down, Mr Munro suggested to the stock tax party that the only way in which they might hope for an increase of the stock tax was to support a motion of want of confidence, tihled by the Opposition, finding fault with the proposals of the Government generally, and particularly with the proposed bonuses, as calculated to undermine the principle of Protection, To this the stock tax party would not agree, the bonuses promised by the Government in the interests of the farmers finding favor in their eyes, and Mr Munro cut his connection with the party in disgust and refused to attend their caucuses. The party last week appear to have suddenly made up their minds to put the direct issue as to the stock tax before the House, for when Mr M'Lean gave notice of his intention to move that theie should ha a uniform duty of 3s per cental upon all grain and pulse, and also an increased duty on all live stock and dead meat imported into the colony, it came as a surprise to all who were outside of the ranks of the party. The Government having appealed to the country on this very point at the last general election, had no alternative hut to accept the motion as one of no confidence, and the House immediately suspended all business and adjourned until to-day. The members in favor of the stock tax being almost equally divided on both sides of the House, the motion placed the Government in an awkward position. It emanates avowedly from those who have been their staunch adherents in the past, and being a no-confi-dence motion, it is bound to secure the support of the Opposition, who are always “ agin the Government,” on whatever pretence. On the Government side there are eighteen members who are in favor of the stock tax, and forty-three against; while on the Opposition side there are nineteen for and fourteen against. If the eighteen Ministerialists, with the whole of the Opposition, vote for the motion it will therefore bo carried by 51 as against 43. It is unlikely, however, that this will be the result, for the Coalition Ministry have done good work, and the majority of members would hardly like to see them displaced. Rather than such an event should happen there arc members who would prefer to he absent when the division takes place. On the other hand, there are members on the Government side who think they have been slighted when changes were being made in the Cabinet, and “rats” may he developed in unexpected quarters. If there is to be a change of Government, the new Cabinet will be an out-and-out Protectionist one. The Opposition members have gauged the situation, and the card they are going to play is that the time has arrived when Protection should have unlimited sway. It is evident from what took place at a meeting which was held last night to advocate the stock tax that the feeling is gaining ground that, while the Coalition Ministry profess a desire to maintain the settled policy of the country, their action is in the direction of restricting Protection as much as possible. The operatives associated with the Trades Hall are crying out for increases of duties far in excess of what the Government are willing to concede ; and they demand that the large majority of avowed Protectionists in the House should assert themselves, and that the Ministers who are halting between two courses, and only seek to retain the sweets of office, should bo turned out. Mr Munro pointed out at last night’s meeting that according -to a Parliamentary guide compiled from information supplied by members themselves there are eighty Protectionists in the House and only fifteen Freetraders, and he taunted the former with inability to take the reins of Government into their hands. There is no doubt that the Utopian idea of federation which the Government have so strongly espoused must interfere with the protective system which they are supposed to carry out, and that there is more danger ahead- than those who are pleased with the political calm which has existed since the establishment of the coalition are inclined to admit. The farmers threaten to throw in their weight with the Freetrado party if they are denied the protection which is afforded to other sections of the community, and they represent 50,000 inhabitants of the colony. There is a prospect—remote, perhaps—that the old battle of Protection versus Frcelrade will be fought over again, and altogether the present situation is an interesting one. Thus does the unexpected happen, for the course of events has been materially altered since my last letter was written. NATIONAL UNITY. Mr G. R. Parkin, the Canadian lecturer, lias been promoting the cause of national unity with considerable success in Australia during the last few weeks, but there are not wanting critics who oppose the idea. Sir Archibald Michin lectured the other evening on ‘lmperial /’nd-cration,’ in which ho treated in a very hostile spirit the aims and public utterances of the advocates of Imperial federation. His chief contention was that no practical scheme of federation had been suggested, and that the conflicting interests of Great Britain’s dependencies could not ho brought into harmony. ANOTHER ALLYCI ED ABSCONDER. A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Henry Allen Washburn on a charge of embezzling about Ll,oflo, the money of Mr Albert Ridgcley, of London. Some time ago Washburn and Ridgeloy were assoc’ated in the conduct of the St. Hilda Skating Kink, and when Ridgeley left for England Washburn assumed the management. Subsequently, it is alleged, he sold out his own and his partner’s interest in the rink, and recently brought out the company at present on exhibition at the Royal Museum in Bourke street. Some dissatisfaction arose between the partners, and Mr Ridgeley sent out a Mr Roberts with power of attorney to act for him. Roberts examined the accounts, and found an alleged deficiency of between LI,OOO and .L 1,200. In the meantime, Washburn had left by the steamship Britannia, and his departure led to the issue of the warrant. As the matter appears to be a question of disputed accounts, which would be more suitably met by a civil action, it is questionable if any steps will be taken to have Washburn arrested at the next port where the steamer calls on her homeward voyage. DEATH FROM CHLOROFORM. An ii quest has been held in Melbourne on the body of Mr Charles Powlett Ford, solicitor, who died whilst chloroform was being administered to him for a minor operation. Mr Ford, who was a member of the firm of Wilkie and Ford, of Chancery lane, and a son of Dr F. T. West Ford, of Collins street, was suffering from a small tumor on his neck. He consulted Dr Syme about it, and the doctor advised its removal. Mr Ford consented to the operation on condition that ho should be given chloroform. Mr Ford was examined in the usual way to ascertain if ho had any disease which would render the administration of chloroform dangerous, but no trace of weakness could be found. The chloroform was then given by Dr Adam, who had been called to assist Dr Syme, but when Mr Ford bad inhaled a small quantity of

the chloroform his heart failed to beat. Every effort was made to restore him, but without suceesp. The post mortem examination showed that the heart was weak and flabby, and its right side was dilated. This could not have been ascertained by examination before death. Dr Ford, tbe father of the deceased, stated that his son was thirtytwo years of age, and unmarried. On a former occasion he had tiken chloroform whilst undergoing au operation, and it had not affected him seriously. In this case ho was quite satisfied that the chloroform had been properly administered. The jury found that the deceased died from chloroform poisoning, and that the chloroform was properly administered. SHOCKING DEPRAVITY. A shocking case of depravity was disclosed before one of the city benches last week. Bridget Nash, a girl of sixteen, was charged by her father James Nash with having no visible lawful means of support. It appears that the girl left her home some months ago, and was found about six weeks back by her father living with a man named Barry. She was then in a delicate state of health. The father demanded that Barry should marry her, and, on the latter refusing to do so, a warrant was issued by the father for the arrest of the girl, as she refused to accompany him home. The girl stated to the Bench that her reason for refusing to accompany her father was that he had several times attempted to criminally assault her, and that he was cohabiting with his sister. Barry having signified his willingness to marry the girl, the case was remanded for a week to give him an opportunity of doing so. REALISTIC FRENCH NOVELS. An importation of 162 books, consigned to Mr E. W. Cole, proprietor of the wellknown book arcade in Bourke street, has been seized by the Customs authorities and destroyed on the ground that they come within the provisions of the Act of Parliament prohibiting the importation of indecent literature. The works were by Alphonse Daudet, Adolphe Belot, and other French writers of the realistic school. AUSTRALIAN WINES. President Carnot, the director-general of the Paris Exhibition, paid an official visit to the Australian Wine Kiosk, at the Troiaclero on the 11th July, and expressed himself as being agreeably surprised with the quality and display of the exhibits. The President of the Royal Australian Commission gave a dinner on the 13th July to the members of the agricultural societies of England and France, at which none but Australian wines were used, for the purpose of showing that England, in one of her colonies, could produce wines that would compare favorably with those of France, The guests pronounced the wines to be excellent, and it was predicted that the time was at hand when they would compete with the best brands in Europe. An export stated that the wines were better adapted for cold countries, such as Russia, on account of their extreme richness. They arc of much better quality than the Continental wines, which arc greatly used for blending purposes in France, and if Australian vine growers could compete with Continental growers in price a good market might bo opened. NEW ZEALAND FROZEN FISH. An enterprise that is likely to meet with great support here, on account of our meagre fish supply and the altogether extortionate prices demanded, is that of establishing a constant supply of frozen fish for Melbourne from your country. Tho experiment is being tried by tho Colonial Fish Company, whose intention it is to bring to Melbourne, in a frozen state, fish caught in New Zealand waters, Tho first shipment, consisting of twenty-seven tons, was brought by tho Mararoa last week, and proved a great success, the shipment selling freely. On arrival the fish is taken from the refrigerating chambers of tho vessel to the ice works at Richmond, from whence supplies are obtained daily for retailing according to requirements, The cost of shipping from New Zealand raises no obstacle to tho successful establishment of the business, as the freight charge is only L 5 per ton, which is equal to merely a fraction over Ad per lb. If the trade develops, as it is expected to do, it will prove a great boon to the Melbourne public, as in scarce times the price of fiah is altogether above the purse of the ordinary purchaser. THE AUSTRALIAN SQUADRON. Rear-admiral Lord Charles Scott has been appointed to succeed Admiral Fairfax as Commander-in-chief of the British fleet composing the Australian squadron. He is not altogether a stranger to Australian waters, as ho commanded the H.M.S. Bacchante, which formed one of the flying squadron that visited Australia in 1881, and on which H.R.H. Prince Albert Victor and H.R.H, Prince George of Wales were midshipmen. Lord Scott shortly afterwards returned on a visit to Australia, and was married to Miss Ryau, sister of Dr C Ryan, of Victoria. SAD CUN ACCIDENT, Elizabeth Heaney, a girl cf fourteen, was accidentally shot by her brother, aged seventeen years, a little way out of Ballarat, last week. The lad was shooting sparrows with a fowling piece, and his sister, coming suddenly around a corner, received the charge of shot in the head and face. The girl lies in a critical condition, no hopes being entertained of her recovery. A LAND CASE. Another land case, arising out of the late boom, was disposed of in the law Courts last week. An estate agent was sued by two speculators for the return of their deposits of LIOO each, as well as their promissory notes for L 430 in addition. Through the misrepresentations of the agent they were induced to enter a syndicate for the purpose of buying forty acres of land for L 125 an acre. The land, which was not worth anything like this price, was sold to the syndicate by tbe agent, this fact being fraudulently concealed from the plaintiffs. The other members of’ the syndicate consisted of members of tho estate agent’s family, whose shares were completely under his control. Judgment was given for tho plaintiffs. GENERAL. A case of garrotting occurred last week, the victim being Mr James H. Williams, a teacher of mathematics at the Scotch College. He had walked homo from tho city, and was just about to open the college gates when he was seized by the throat from behind, and before he could offer any resistance was robbed of his watch and a small amount of money that he had in his pockets at the time. Mr Williams was found by the police in a very exhausted state. The same night two cases of burglary occurred in Bourke street within a short distance of each other, a tobacconist’s shop being entered and a display of gold medals, belonging to a champion cyclist, which were being exhibited in the window, being stolen. An attempt was also made on a chemist’s shop, a few doors higher up, but tho burgla's must have been disturbed before they could effect their object, as, although the door was found splintered from top to bottom, no entrance had besn effected. The sum of LI ,28417s has been subscribed up to date towards the Lady Loch souvenir fund. There is a movement on the part of the legal profession of Melbourne to get Judge Quinlan removed from the County Court Bench on account of alleged favoritism, and it is likely that a commission of inquiry will be appointed by Parliament. One of the scenes which are by no means uncommon in tho New South Wales Assembly took place on Thursday last. Railway matters were under discussion, and Mr O’Sullivan described a report which had been received from the locomotive engineer as to the bad condition of the railway stock as a “ put up job ” between him and the Government. The Premier (Sir Henry Parkes), who had been warmed by what had been previously said, exclaimed: “ Whoever says so is a blackguard.” To this Mr O’Sullivan responded : “ You’re the biggest blackguard in the House.” It was some time before the Speaker could obtain anything like order. A fire which occurred in Melbourne recently has been the cause of the death of a fireman named Joseph Fox. Deceased and some other firemen were engaged on the roof of the burning building (hoisting a hose up), when they were alarmed by a sudden outburst of the fire at their feet. Finding escape by the hatchway impossible, they made fast a line to the lightning conductor and lowered themselves on to a roof some &f[t below, The ttye was only about SOft

long, being some lOftahort; but all thefiremeu, with the exception of Fox, managed to descend safely. The latter, when some 20ft from the roof, let go his hold of the rope, and sustained serious injuries, terminating in his death a few days after. Ho leaves a •wile and two children*

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890827.2.31

Bibliographic details

OUR AUSTRALIAN LETTER., Issue 7996, 27 August 1889

Word Count
2,841

OUR AUSTRALIAN LETTER. Issue 7996, 27 August 1889

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