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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 70

Increase of Population

Increase of Population.

During five years, ending— Victoria. New South Wales. Queensland.
1881 No. Per cent. No. Per cent. No. Per cent.
1881 78,169 167,229 27 35,494 19
1886 120,624 14 207,260 27½ 114,514 51
1891 157,294 15½ 175,960 17¾ 64,237 19

These figures should throw a good deal of light on the important question of how far newly arrived capital has been absorbed in actual development of the country. If we find that in a given period there have been enormous arrivals of new capital without any very marked increase in the population, it is a reasonable assumption that the money has not been used for the opening up of the country and the creation ot new industries, but has rather been used in mere speculation. On the other hand, if we find that, concurrently with the absorption of large sums of money, there has been a very marked increase of population, we may conclude that the probability is that there has been a considerable expansion of the industries of the gantry. Looking at the figures from this point of view, it will be at once seen that Victoria occupies by far the worst position. She has, especially during the past five years, imported new capital to an extent without precedent in the history of Australia, and, as far as we know, without precedent in the history of the world, and yet the increase in population shows a very light percentage. This means that whilst the burdens have grown, both in bulk and in proportion, more rapidly in Victoria than in page 18 either of the other two colonies, the number of burden-bearers has increased at a much slower rate. It is worthy of note that, in the first period, the rate of increase in this colony was neatly three times that in Victoria; in the second, nearly twice as great; and, in the third, about one-seventh greater. That during 1886 to 1891 New South Wales should increase her population faster than Victoria, while absorbing only one-ninth as much new capital, shows that actual development, real production, was on a far more satisfactory scale than in Victoria. Yet, the figures show plainly New South Wales has felt, has suffered from the failing off in the extent of British investments which marked the two previous periods. The silent eloquence of the Queensland figures can scarcely be improved upon by comment. An enormous supply of money, a phenomenal increase of population in the 1882-86 period, followed by collapse during the years 1887-91, tell their own tale. It will be needful to take into consideration the subject of the relation that exists between production in the various colonies and their respective burdens of indebtedness. This will he dealt with in a future article. This one may well conclude with a reference to the sudden restriction in the flow of new capital which marked the year 1880.