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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 12

Statement of Views of the Central Committee

Statement of Views of the Central Committee.

1The League disclaims any intention or desire to advance or advocate exclusively, what are called Class interests,—be they Agricultural or Manufacturing. Our desire is to combine together in one compact body,—with a Central Committee,—all who will endeavour to retain in the Province, all the money required for necessaries or luxuries, as far as they can be produced here, and who would thus prevent the capital of the Colonists from being sent to foreign parts, to profit those who care nothing for us, and pay nothing towards our taxes.
2We state decidedly, that we entertain neither the wish or intention of raising the price of bread or of other necessaries and conveniences of life to the labourer or to the poor man. We do not believe that such would be the result of a moderate Protective duty. On the contrary, we believe that if the Home-producer is fairly protected and encouraged, the Market will be freed from those extraordinary fluctuations, which we every now and then experience to our loss and detriment. Under a Protective system we should know on what we can depend here; the supply will be more regular,—the returns more secure,—and the price in consequence less fluctuating.

Is it necessary to relate, how the Producer has been constantly harrassed and checked by the market being glutted with foreign produce, when he was ready to bring his produce for sale? Heavy losses have been sustained in this way by corn growers, which has caused them to abandon their efforts in despair, to the great and permanent detriment of the Province and to the discouragement of their fellow colonists. In like manner, owners of cattle have seen the value of their stock diminished one half its value within the last eighteen months (as stated in our Petition to the House of Representatives) the result of importations from without.* What business can stand or prosper under such disastrous losses? So in Dairy or Garden produce; Cheese has been kept at home unsaleable; Butter scarce worth the making; Grapes and other fruits have been suffered to rot page 7 on the ground; Lemons from the North, after paying all expenses of packing, freight, carriage and wharf dues, have been given away, because large free importations had previously arrived from Sydney. The Bucket and the Broom trade, which were commenced here with fair prospects, have been similarly knocked on the head, through importations from the Gaols (!) of the United States.

Free Trade and Home Production are thus seen not to harmonize;—which are we to choose? Are we to continue protecting the foreigner and ruining ourselves? The people of America and Victoria are practical and hard headed and show us the way,—it is high time we followed it.

Numberless articles can be easily produced and manufactured here, if they were for a time fairly protected and encouraged. Woollens, blankets, flannels, tweeds, wool-packs, sacking, ropes, paper, beet-root sugar, tobacco, linseed and other oils, jams and pickles, agricultural machinery, and implements of all kinds. What indeed cannot be raised and manufactured here? Would the price of them be enhanced?—We think not: But even supposing for a time, the price might be increased in some degree; is it nothing to the credit side, that the money paid for the articles, is retained to be circulated in the Province among ourselves, instead of being sent away?

4Looking at the above facts and principles, if. we, the Agriculturists and Manufacturers, wish to become a real power in the State we must combine and form a united body, so as to act together and influence the Government. Then we shall be listened to,—not before. One step in the direction we desire has been taken. The Government has, of its own motion, initiated duties on imports, for the purposes of revenue. Our endeavour must be to lead them to adopt a much more comprehensive and important policy, viz.: that of fostering the cultivation of our soil and encouraging our own manufactures, by securing our Colonists in their efforts, by a general revise of the Customs Tariff, protecting all home productions.
5Another powerful motive for protection presents itself to our notice, at this peculiar crisis of the Colony. The Government have embarked in great schemes, involving enormous loans, and immense responsibilities for the future. It may be comparatively easy to initiate these great measures, making us dependent on the money-lender; but will it always be easy to meet the day of reckoning? That is a question which affects every man in the country. Who in the end are likely to bear the brunt of the burden but the main body of the Landowners? If a Land Tax should loom in the distance, how are we to meet it? Are we prepared to do so in our present depressed state? Can we make the foreign importer (whom we now protect) pay? What necessity then exists to improve and consolidate the position of the Home producer? If, by the adoption of sound and proper self-protecting measures, we can feel our prospects in a fair way of recovering a good and healthy state, we may then prepare for the worst. But let no man shut his eyes to the danger which lies before us, if we stand still and leave affairs to take their chance.