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South Australia.


I HAVE been waiting for some time before committing this letter to the post, because I was hoping that I should be able to tell you something definite concerning the fate of our

taxation proposals. The old ones—those simi lar to New Zealand—of which I wrote you last mouth, were debated at great length, and carried, with sonic modifications, up to their last sta;, re in the bill. At that critical juncture they were rejected by the full House, after a second attempt had been made by the Govern ment to force them upon the members just as a mother forces castor oil upon an unwilling child. To aid them in this unpleasant task they tacitly held a threat of dissolution over the House, and there ia little ground for ques tion that, when the final rejection was brought

about, the Government, who placed the false issue of "Taxation or no taxation" strongly before tho waverers, would have gone to the country but for the fact that they had no " supply" to carry on the public service with; and it is said that the Governor positively refused to hear of a dissolution until that had been granted. So, after a long consideration, the Government came down to the House with a good deal of humility. They withdrew their false issue of taxation or no taxation, and said in effect they were sorry they had raised it; and they asked the House to give them some money to meet the deficit by mean* of another kind of tax. That other tax —not to make too long a story about it —has since boen changed in its purpose in this way: The Government proposed a tax of £d. in the pound upon the value of all land and of all buildings and other improvements thereon, whether tney brought in a return to the owner or whether they did not. The Opposi tion suggested that only improvements which yielded an income should be taxed, and the Government going more than half way to meet them, a sort of coalition took place, and the resolutions, which have been passed up to the bill stage, and which (subject to some modifications) will have passed the Lower House before this reaches you, provide for (1) a tax of $d. in the pound upon tho value of land pure and simple; (*2) a tax of 6d. in the pound upon the gains aud profits arising from all other kinds of property; and (3) a tax of 3d. in the pound upon professional incomes, and other returns from personal exertion. In comes under £300 are exempted, and the amount exempted in the second tax will be. though it is not yet fixed, about £300; and that in the first will be something like £130. In any case we shall at least have to pay in creased taxes, tho necessity for which has arisen almost wholly through the extravagant concessions given by the Government to land selectors, as to whose surrendering their hold ings no discretion whatever was used, and whom it has even now been seriously proposed to exempt from all taxation. This vital question of taxation has been dis cussed with great heat and at extraordinary length. In fact little else in a legislatorial way has been done during the weeks which have elapsed since I last wrote. There must, how ever, be excepted the affirmation by the Assembly of the bill which our leading Queen's Counsel—Mr. Symon—has fought so liard for, having for its object the abolition of the oath in evidence taken before courts of law. This has been a much debated question in our midst, where, as in all the colonies, the sanctity of the oath has been done away with by whole- Bale perjury. Mr. Symon introduced his bill lastyear. butdid not carry it through; the voting was so close that he was encouraged to intro duce it again, with the result that it was car* ried on Wednesday by a substantial majority, and it is now in committee, where it is under stood it will be somewhat limited in its appli cation. I may, in a word, remind you tnat the object of this Oaths Abolition Bill is to abolish altogether the oath in courts of justice, and to substitute for it the following declara tion :—•• I solemnly promise and declare that the evidence given by me to the court shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." Mr. Symon proposes that, if anyone speaks falsely, he shall be visited with the same penalties as he would incur by committing per jury now. There has been another little legislatorial sen sation. Some weeks ago, when the Hon. J. Colton, as mouthpiece of the Social Purity Society, rose to moyo tho well-known resolu tions of that society in the House—by the way, he held up Queensland as an awful example of the baneful working of the Contagious Diseases Act—a member rose and objected to the pre sence of strangers in the galleries; and as they must, under the standing orders, go out when their presence is called attention to, they had to leave while their Parliamentary representa tives discussed this important question of social Burity. Mr. Colton was grieved at this result, lie more especially as this was the only occasion during the thirty years the standing orders have been in force on which it has been exercised. Hence he set to work to procure its alteration, and after discussion in the House, the question of its amendment was referred to the committee charged with the arrangement of the standing orders. They duly reported that it would not be wise to alter it, and imme diately Mr. Colton struck his notice off the paper and brought it forward again, a promise having been given that if he moved in the matter again secrecy would not be sought. Accord ingly the motion came on on Wednesday last The House has postponed its further considera tion of the question for a week. The trial of Mah Poo, the Chinaman of whom I wroto you as the reputed murderer of Tommy Ah Fook, in the purlieus of the city, has been interrupted in a rather remarkable fashion. The case had gone on for two days, and as it was drawing to a close one of the jurymen went almost as near to madness a« he could go. On the morning of the third day when the court assembled, the foreman of the jury—it was wholly a German jury—com plained that one of the jurors, named Lchmann had become so violent over night that he had had to be placed under restraint in another room. On this being said, Lehmann attempted to bolt out of court, and the Judge ordered a medical examination forthwith. The result was that he was discovered to be unfit to go on with the case; and so the jury was dis charged, and another was empanelled, and the whole case had to be gone through again. Poor Mah Poo seemed to fed the lengthened suspense keenly as he frequently wept, and buried his face in his hands. The Chinaphobista think it strange that a Chinaman should show human feeling. [Our telegrams have since re ported that Man Poo was found guilty and! sentenced to death.—Ed. B. C] The health committee of the City Council have been making inspections of the Chinese and other low quarters of the city, and pretty disclosures the Press representatives who accom panied them have made concerning the filth deposits and the reeking cholera-breeding bed* which infest some parts of Adelaide. The wonder is that our sanitary condition should be so good whilst pure air and foul smells are fighting so vigorously for their respective raastprs—health and disease. Wp shall pro bably scour these foul places ■wlien epidemic comes upon us. Taken altogether, the Chinese are not desirable colonists. The Pressmen of Adelaide have started a Savage Club upon the lines, as we understand, of your Johnsonian, and they will be happy to "chin chin" with you, as the Chinese put the operation. It was a coincidence that tho Savages should have had as their guest on their opening night * gentleman who was the guest

of the Johnsonians on their inaugural night— I mean Mr. Ernest Favenc, a well-known and able contributor of yours. His purpose in visiting Adelaide is to report to the Govern ment upon the character of their country on the M Arthur River and elsewhere in our Northern Territory—country which he ex plored for our Government, and of the charac ter of which he speaks in his report to Parlia ment in eloquent terms. Our prospects in every relation continue to brighten. A magnificent harvest is now practi cally assured, and the floating of our loan so satisfactorily may be taken as a good omen by those who delight in omens. By this time next year we shall be borne forward on a full tide of prosperity, which we hope you will enjoy in common with us.