Full text: Borrowing and business in Australia

of settlement was being taken, and to indicate the basis for the 
prosperity of later years. While Victoria had one-seventh of her 
settled area under the plough and South Australia one-fourth, 
the fraction for New South Wales was less than one-thirtieth. 
In an agricultural sense the two former states thus became very 
important, while the more pastoral mother-state was steadily 
losing ground. But, in the national economy, wool-growing was 
again assuming that position of dominance from which it had 
been temporarily ousted by gold-mining ; and that dominance it 
was to retain unchallenged in the following decades. 
The mining industry was also making a big bid for prominence. 
Coal was playing an increasingly important part in New South 
Wales, where the annual export after 1866 exceeded half a 
million tons. The importance of copper mining to South 
Australia cannot be over-estimated at this period ; and Tasmania, 
was shortly to reap a rich harvest of prosperity as a result of the 
mineral discoveries in the island. 
By 1870 Melbourne was firmly established in her control of 
Australian finance. The factors which gave her this imposing 
position were very exceptional, and impossible of repetition, 
She had by this time a population of 207,000, while Sydney had 
barely reached 138,000. This increment of people was un- 
doubtedly due, in the first instance, to the attraction of the 
gold-fields; and it was, later, Victoria’s industrial development 
which retained them. For many years, too, Victorian banks 
had been assimilating the vast funds poured in by the miners. 
Fields for the investment of this money were eagerly exploited, 
and as a result the influence of Victorian finance was felt all 
over Australasia. The Riverina became, in effect, a Victorian 
province since the capital for its development was supplied by 
Melbourne banks. The financial impulse generated in Melbourne 
was felt from Malaya to New Zealand. Nor did the decline of 
gold-mining lessen this dominance. The steady progress in in- 
vestment and development brought rich rewards to Victorian 
capital; and it was owing to the continuance of these returns 
that the decline in gold production did not in the least 
imperil Melbourne’s position as the financial centre of the con- 
tinent. In the light of after events this fact assumes a peculiar 
and emphatic importance. It is quite certain that had there 
been no gold-rush and no consequent industrial developments

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