Full text: Borrowing and business in Australia

"The Colony of New South Wales has been getting gradually worse these last seven 
years, chiefly owing to the great amount of immigration and the fall off in the gold- 
fields, and more so through the great amount of importation of every article we left 
our homes to come here to manufacture.’ —Letter from Sydney unions to London 
workers, published in London Star, 20/1/1867. 
‘The Overend-Gurney crisis closed the period of isolated, incoherent, and disunited 
finance. The tendency is now towards a greater differentiation and complexity of 
movement, and is simultaneous with a realized unity of interest—a dawning 
consciousness of capacity, an exclusion of excessive, superfluous, wantonly com- 
petitive and consequently mischievous heterogeneity.’—BacraoT, Lombard Street. 
‘The rise in the price of wool, the great demand for meat, the higher prices of copper, 
tallow, oil, and other articles of export have put the people who were formerly 
embarrassed at their ease.’ —Sydney Morning Herald, 12/4/1872. 
‘Orthodox theory would say that a depressed rate of exchange encourages importa- 
tion, and thus overstocks the market and lowers prices of imports. But the con- 
clusion is not applicable to Australia, to which, on account of distance and isolation, 
no merchant would be induced to export by the rate of exchange.’—Report of Royal 
Mint, Sydney, 1860. 
In its formative aspect the next phase is to be regarded as 
the ‘key’ period of Australian economic development. The 
primary industries were by then firmly established, settlement 
was pushing out in all directions, a process of trial and error 
was demonstrating the best uses to which the land could be put, 
the characteristic relations between labour and capital were 
being evolved, and the main arteries of commerce and communi- 
cation defined. The dreams of Eldorado and the glamour of the 
gold-rush had been replaced by a realization of the special 
aptitudes of the country; and more natural industrial con- 
ditions were taking shape. In all respects, save that of Federa- 
tion, the main outlines of Australian national development had 
been sketched, and the colour of our international relations 
was beginning to appear in the picture. 
The progress of settlement is shown by the area held at this 
date, and this has an important bearing upon the object of our 
inquiry. Eleven and a quarter million acres had been alienated 
in the six colonies, but of this barely one-eighth was under 
cultivation. The proportions, however, varied amazingly in the 
different states: and serve to show how seriously the business

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