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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 80a

(D.) — Extract from the "Sydney Morning Herald" of 8th February 1872


Extract from the "Sydney Morning Herald" of 8th February 1872.

To the Electors of East Sydney.


From 1855 to September 1864 no duties were received by this colony on goods imported across the Murray. The loss to our Treasury during that period by reason of such non-collection must have been at least 400,000l., every penny of which went into the Treasury of Victoria. In April 1863 Mr. Cowper proposed to Mr. O'Shanassy to enter into some arrangement by which this colony might be enabled to receive the duties in question. In May 1863 the Under Secretary of Victoria wrote to Mr. Cowner in answer to his proposal, and distinctly declined to accept it. A week afterwards Mr. Cowper submitted three proposals in reference to the Border Duties. After the lapse of nearly three months, on the 30th May 1863, Mr. O'Shanassy replied, refusing to enter into any arrangement whatever, on the ground that the advantage derived by this colony from access to the Victorian market was a sufficient compensation for the loss of the Border Duties. In February 1864 Mr. Hart, the Treasurer of South Australia, undertook to re-open the question with the Government of Victoria, on behalf of this colony, and on the 19th March he sent a telegram to the Government in Sydney, stating that Victoria would agree to no terms. In June 1864, three months after this telegram, Mr. page 92 Forster wrote to the Chief Secretary of Victoria again, urging the propriety of making an arrangement to avoid, if possible, the actual collection of duties on the Murray. Mr. M'Culloch evaded the question by raising another issue. All efforts for accommodation having thus failed, and this colony having suffered for nearly 10 years a loss of revenue not less than 40,000l a year, on the 18th August 1864, public notice was given that the Border Duties would be collected on the 19th September following, and on that dav (19th September 1864), the Custom House officers began to collect. Between that date and the end of the year 1864, three months and 11 days, the actual collections amounted to 3,600l. 15 s. 7 d., this sum being so small in consequence of the very large quantity of goods sent over from Victoria during the month which the liberality of this Government allowed to merchants rind others or the purpose of making their arrangements. In the year 1865 the Border Duties ceased to be collected from 1st May to the 27th June, in consequence of an arrangement which afterwards fell through. The amount actually collected for the year, less the I month and 27 days during which there was no collection, was 32,765l. 4 s. 3 d. For this I month and 27 days Victoria afterwards paid 6,800l., thus making the whole payment for the year 1865 39,565l. 4s. 3d. In the year 1866 the Border Duties realised 61,760l. 14 s. 9d., .and in January 1867 they amounted to 4,976l. 4s. 11d. The sum therefore realised by this colony for those duties, from the 19th September 1864 to the 1st February 1867, being 2 years 4 months and 11 days, was 109,902 l. 19s. 6d.; the income of the last year (1866) being nearly 62,000l.

On the 1st February 1867 the arrangement came into operation by which, for five Years, Victoria paid to New South Wales 60,000l. a year, being nearly 2,000l. a year less than the actual collections in 1866. Mr. Samuel opposed this arrangement, on the ground of the inadequacy of the sum of 60,000l., which he said would, during the next five years, be "more than quadrupled." Mr, Macleay, in the same debate, while eulogising the Government for making the best arrangement that could be made under the circumstances, hoped that we should be in a position "to make a better arrangement with Victoria when the agreement then in existence should expire."

Towards the close of last year no one doubted that a much larger sum than 60,000l. a year ought to be paid by Victoria if the Border Duty arrangement were to be continued. In order to effect such an arrangement, two of my colleagues and myself went to Melbourne, and were at once met with the distinct assurance by Mr. Duffy and Mr. Berry that under no circumstances would Victoria pay more than 60,000l. My colleague and I therefore saw that there was no prospect of an agreement, and we submitted to Mr. Duffy and Mr. Berry a memorandum in which this distinct refusal of theirs to pay more than 60,000l was set forth. To that statement they took no exception, but they afterwards proposed that the Border Duty arrangement should be extended for another year, and that during that year an account should be taken, which might serve as the basis of a new arrangement. This we declined to accede to, considering that we should have grossly betrayed the interests of this colony if we had consented to receive for the year 1872 a sum less by 2,000l, than the actual collection for the year 1866.

Immediately after the conference was closed, and since Mr. Duffy has expressed a willingness to have accounts taken, and to pay what these accounts shall show this colony to be entitled to. We have declined to accept any sum less than 60,000l., having no doubt whatever, and believing that no one else has any doubt whatever, that the amount of the duties payable to this colony, after deducting the duties payable to Victoria, will be much more than that sum. We have insisted on the payment of that sum at least, and as much more as the accounts will show to be our due, as we know that the amount cannot possibly be less. In this view the Assembly agreed with us, but the same Assembly afterwards, without rescinding its former vote, came to a different conclusion, and adopted the view of Mr. Duffy, that no sum should be fixed as a minimum, but that the amount to be paid to New South Wales should altogether depend upon the account.

From the decision of this Assembly, which thus within six weeks adopted two opposite and contradictory resolutions, and by the last of them played most unpatriotically into the hands of Victoria, we deemed it our duty to appeal to the Constituencies. I am therefore now before you a candidate for re-election. By the imposition of the Border Duties, at my instance, on the 19th September 1864, this Colony, in 2 years 4 months and 11 days received 109,902l. 19s. 6d., and in the subsequent five years 300,000l.—in all, 409,902l. 19s. 6d. not one penny of which would have been paid if the Victorian Government could have prevented it. It is my desire that our Treasury should receive the duties to which it is fairly entitled, and no energy has been—no energy shall be spared, on my part to secure to this heavily taxed community the entire sum that those duties amount to. It would have been easy for the Government to have accepted the resolution moved by Mr. Jennings, and so have avoided the possibility of a crisis on this Border question. But we thought it was our duty rather to stand by what we considered to be the public interest, and refuse, under any circumstances, to leave open to the hazard of dispute and disagreement a portion of the public income, about our right to which there could have existed no possibility of doubt. This Government has throughout acted liberally and in good faith with Victoria. My colleagues and I have acted with firmness also, and we feel assured that, in taking the stand we have done, we shall be supported by the country.

I am, &c

James Martin.