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OUR SYDNEY LETTER, Issue 15704, 19 January 1915
OUR SYDNEY LETTER
A NATIONAL RESERVE. All other considerations seem destined to 'caJce second place in deference to Defence. The complacency or complaisance of the Federal Governrnwit is not shared even by their coadjutors in the State Ministry. Both Governments, by the | wav, are supposed to draw their sanction, and even their existence, from the same central body. But it is very difficult to learn how they really stand. Mr Carmichael. the State Minister of Education, commenting the apparent inactivity of Federal Ministers and of the majority behind them, is advocating the formation of a National Reserve. On a voluntary basis such a body would be an invaluable addition to the strength of tho Commonwealth, and there cannot be a shadow of doubt that the military spirit would soon become so strong in its members that it could be drawn upon to any extent required when further contingents were needed for active -service. The men who volunteered would, of course, have acquired the. rudiments of drill, and would be_ ready to go to the front much more quickly than the ordinarv raw recruit. Seeing, however, that the duty of Defence is one of those which are specially reserved to the Federal Government, it is doubtful ii the State .Ministry could legally take any official cognisance of such a movement. Senator i'earce and his colleagues, however, need to be very much awake just now, or else they will find that they have "missed the bus," and art hopelessly in the rear of public opinion. 'J he newspapers in their leading columns are nearly all insisting on the gravity of the situation and the need that exists for more vigorous net ion on the part of tho Commonwealth. Thev have not as yet, however, gone to tho" length of their British contemporaries, who have "shut down " on football news, because of its power as a counter-attraction. IS MEAT A NECESSARY COM MOD FIT? The price of meat is going up to a point which puts a fourpeuuy or even a sixpenny loaf entirely in 'the shade. But n-e idler the Government nor the Necessary Commodities Commission make any sign. It there is a.ny virtue in con- | fiscatinn, it seems to be much more im- [ perativch- called for in the case o[ meat than in that of bread. But Labor ad- , niiuii-trators seem unable to devise any action that shall march m equal measure, and treat all men with equal justice. What malign influence is that brands with purblinduess, or hopeless lameness, so | many "I their most prominent measures? Scant!;.- one of them but is one-eyed and one-legged. The. hoof of the one leg is stamping pretty heavily on the wheatgrowers just now. If another leg were available, it might make itself felt on the grazier? and carcass batchers. The position, however, is very serious. Beef, by the " body." choice joints, and common meat ami bone together, is bringing from 4id t.. 4£d per lb. What price must the retailor charge his customers before he I can see his own money again, to say no.thing of any livin,g profit-'/ 'There Is no I prospect of any improvement, but the I scarcity, unless the situation is vigorously I grappled with, threatens to increase*. Many butchers have been '"frozen out" | already, ami it seems clear that onlv the very strongest will be able to keep going. ] In the trade it is believed that there is a sufficiency of meat for homo requirei incuts, but not enough to supply the de- | mand for export. This has 'been immensely stimulated by the, war, and by tho determination "of exporters to i maintain their hold on the Amer'tI can trade. which promises to he a big thing m the future. Of course, all these matters, if left to themselves, would lind their own level in duo time. So, for that matter, would the .scarcity of breads'.nff.s. But, in the latter case, the opportunity of gaining favor with, tho ttv.vn populations at the expense ot the wheaU'rcuers seems to have been too tcmptii;_' to be. resisted We are now aiwaitmg, on similar principles, a big seizure of cattle a: Homebush, followed by similar action, among the carcass butchers jat Glebe Island. A prompter and more I decisive mode of exposing the folly of confiscatory tactics could hardly be given. THE COMMONWEALTH TAKES ACTION. Bather tardily, the Federal Government have taken up the cudgels on b-.hulf of buyers o! wheat in other- States whoso trade has Ik-l-i; knocked on the head by tho ukase of the Stafe Attorney-General. Tha indictment which has been" prepared by Mr AY. M. Hughes, the Ftderal Attorney-General, and referred to the Interstate Commission, which is the body charged with the duty of preventing anv infraction of the " absolute freedom o'f trade" bet-ween the several States which is guaranteed by the Constitution, sets outin full the names of the A r ictorian buyers and the New South Wales selleis who have been and arc still b-eing aggrieved, and the violent, action of the police by which their transactions were interrupted. It claims that the- Government and the head of -the police force, who are cited as 'defendants, "wrongfully, and in contravention of the Constitution." committed, and at* still committing, the acts complained of. arid prays that they may be commanded to desist, and to obey any other order that the Commission may deem necessary. Scene of our I'V-deralists, maintain that whatever technical view mav be taken of tho circumstances by the Commission, the graver offence is that of violating the understanding under which, on federating, the several States agreed to "pool their issues." A bad harvest was one of the most obvious of those issues. But the State Government, having enough wheat for their own requirements, said: "Oh! we're not going to pool this issue. We're gome; to ke*p a l[ our wheat- for ourselves!:' They are- up for trial before the bar of public opinion, as well as before the Interstate Commission.
THE TRAMCAIt AND THE MOTOR.. A reform which promisee to make the streets of Sydney a little safer than they are at present for tram travellers is being mooted, and the considerations in its favor are .■>,> weighty that it is Jiardly conceivable that the opportunity for effecting it wili be aJlowed to .-lip. At present motor eaiv dash past between a tramear and the herb when the former has stopped and is discharging and taking in passengers. This, of course, entails danger to the passengers, and, to nervous and timid people, gives very real and serious trouble. They may often be seen, dazed and diunbtomtded, quite perplexed as to which way to turn. That accidents are not more riunieious than they are is Jittlo short of miraculous. It is proposed to make it penal for the driver of a motor car to pass a. tramear under such circumstances. It ib_ nut easy to si© Low any man possessed of ordinary consideration would, indeed, attempt so to do, except at the very slowest speed that he could command. A select, committee of the House of Commons have reported against the practice of allowing vehicles to rush past stationary tramcars, and every on© of the .reasons which it, adduced is equally appricable to the traffic of Sydney. WHAT A PITY.
and calamitous as j 6 the disaster of t!u; war, there is a very general opinion thai untold good will result from it. Weil, aa th» French say, " it is only the unexpected ihat happens 1" And it is morally certain that the results of the war, when it. luist reached the stage at which they can bo collated, will com© chiefly tinder that humiliating category of " the unexpected." Quite akin to the adage above quoted is another of'like significance: "L'homme propose, mais Dieu dispose." But I must not get of! the track. J'he Germans in Sydney—or some of them at any rate—axe as confident of victory now as they were at the commencement of hostilities. " We were balked of Paris," you may get on© to confess, in a conridentiarmoment. But, all the same, he is confident of geftinsr. to Calais, and, from Calais, of being able to bombard Britain "ad lib." If you patriotically hint that the Germans' only chance of getting to Calais is as prisoners, ho will reply that tow entirely underrate tho fighting prowess of his countrymen. And yet the most valiant of the Ocvmuos that we see in Ausiraliii don't give- the impression of Jadna, ftrktiiis men. Xhex .might fichi.
under preseure, of course. There is ecarcely anv human bipod who would not do that. 13ut they don't eeem to have any mors love of lighting for its own sake than have the German privates, of whom it is related that they will stand meekly at "attention" whilst some Junker officer spits in their face and kicks their shins for fiomo fancied disrespect. The real fighting man would have his tormentor's blood, if he had to die for it! It is curious that Junkerdom, whilst studiously pouring foul scorn upon meekness, along with all other Christian "virtues, should itself have inculcated a meekness of so peculiarly stolid a kind in the rank and file of its soldiery. I'm afraid I've wandered a bit away from Sydney and its happenings. But everyone is talking " war." and tho habit is 1 infectious. Just one more remark that is often heard _ in circles which, before the war, were feeling keenly the stress of Germ an competition : " How providential it is that a nation which threatened to pretty well cut us out in commerce and industry should have committed tho stupendous error of resorting to war, in which it is not qualified to shine, and by which it will lose the advantages which it had gained 1" THE BANKS. The president of the Chamber of Commerce (Mr F. E Winchcombe, M.L.C.), who was in an excellent position to know what was going on behind the scenes at the outbreak of war, in his annual report pays a tribute to the action of the banks. At one time the position was extremely threatening, and commercial panic seemed imminent. It seems to have been mainly averted bv the public-spirited action of the financial institutions. Bays Mr Winchcombe: '"The calm and strong attitude of our banks, backed by their ample cash reserves, was a tonic to tho commercial community, and engendered a feeling of confidence which was most valuable in such a time of stress." January 5.
OUR SYDNEY LETTER, Issue 15704, 19 January 1915
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