Full text: Borrowing and business in Australia

stocks, and this served as an encouragement to a willing govern- 
ment to enter upon an extensive borrowing programme. An 
early period of speculation in pastoral properties, which came 
to a timely end through drought, merely served, as it did in 
Sydney, to divert the current of speculation towards city 
properties. In addition to the annual loans floated by the 
government, Queensland, in common with the other states, 
attracted a large share of British capital through the agency 
of the banks. 
Speculation and drought early in the decade had, however, 
lowered the tone of business; and, in the crippled state of the 
pastoral industries, this acted to depress all business activities. 
Unemployment and distress impelled the government to relieve 
the situation by a big programme of public works estimated to 
cost no less than ten millions. This pious intention was helped 
in a dramatic manner and from an unexpected quarter. In 
December 1884 the wonderful gold deposits at Mount Morgan 
were discovered; and the splendid returns at once stimulated 
renewed speculation in mines. In Brisbane the marvellous 
dividends from Mount Morgan, the habitual loan, and the swell- 
ing flood of British deposits drove town values to crazy heights. 
Yet all the time the spectre of drought stalked through the 
At this time, in spite of the fact that overdrafts to pastoralists 
had practically ceased, bank advances had reached 114 millions 
in Queensland, an increase of over two million pounds in a single 
year. The splendid seasons of 1887 and 1888 effectually scotched 
any pessimism which the expansive policy of the government 
and the progress of speculation may have excited in cautious 
minds. The burden of the public debt had reached a total of 26 
millions, or more than £78 per head of population, a situation 
which moved the financial editor of the London Times to 
vigorous and scathing criticism. But this had no effect, since 
the eyes of that section of the public who were not preoccupied 
with land transactions were filled with gold dust. In stark 
contrast industry and trade were stagnant, railways were 
becoming less and less of the nature of reproductive works, the 
public debt was still mounting, the return for capital expendi- 
1 £50,000 was paid at this time for 50 feet of city frontage in Brisbane, and in the 
suburbs prices just as ridiculous were obtained.

Note to user

Dear user,

In response to current developments in the web technology used by the Goobi viewer, the software no longer supports your browser.

Please use one of the following browsers to display this page correctly.

Thank you.