Full text: Borrowing and business in Australia

in the attempt to develop diversity of industry by means of a 
protective policy, Australia is able to produce only a small part 
of the great range and volume of commodities consumed by her 
people. Limited as she is by the conditions of the country in 
regard to climate and natural resources, by the sparseness of 
her population, and by the high relative cost of production, her 
only method of purchasing the foreign products which her 
people so insistently demand is by means of the commodities 
for the production of which she has some outstanding advantage 
a8 compared with other countries. 
But there are other factors which enhance the importance 
of overseas trade to the Australian community and which 
make the statistics of international trade a fertile field for the 
investigator of Australian business fluctuations. The most im- 
portant of these factors is the unusual compactness and homo- 
geneity of the Australian community. The concentration of 
one half of the population of the country in the ports with all 
the advantages in industrial efficiency which that concentration 
implies, whatever the social disadvantages may be; and the 
tendency to develop the few well-equipped ports, rather than 
many less well-equipped, is perhaps an admission by the com- 
munity of its dependence upon overseas trade. The radial con- 
centration of railways in each state upon the relatively few 
outlets from the hinterland, the comparatively narrow fringe 
of coast-land along which the bulk of the rural population is 
distributed, and the small numbers of the inhabitants with 
relation to the territory occupied are other factors affecting 
and being affected by overseas trade. 
Furthermore, the centralization of economic and financial 
sontrol, represented, on the one hand, by an arbitration system 
which prescribes similar high standards of comfort for every 
State in the Commonwealth, and, on the other, by an associated 
banking system that treats the business of the community as 
8 unity rather than as a congeries of states, has co-operated 
With a railway system under government ownership and a 
shipping system dominated by powerful combines to deepen 
the customary grooves along which the economic Life of the 
continent moves. It is necessary to enlarge a little upon the im- 
portance of these factors. Professor Viner has declared of the 
Canadian situation, ‘In a country of specialization in industry,

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