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OUR WEST AUSTRALIAN LETTER.
[From our own Correspondent.] Perth, April 7.
Yesterday with the usual formalities and military display Sir William Robinson prorogued the Legislative Council, which had met in special session for the purpose of
passing a .Loan Bill, and a Dili for extending the Eastern JR&ilway from, Guildford to Chidlow's Spring. This session, which has lasted nearly three weeks, has been an important one in many ways. Nothing at the present time could do more to promote the prosperity of the colony than the rail way extension which it has secured, but the side issues which hare largely occupied the attention of the House are equally grave in their bearing upon the future. The country has been brought face to face with the question—• Is it possible any longer to continue under the cow existing Constitution? has the adoption of self-government not become an absolute necessity? Nine out of ten I believe would now answer that could they conscientiously admit that the colony was fit to take upon itself the grave responsi bilities of self-government, they would at once shake off a yoke which has become almost intolerable to bear. Some time ago I wrote that at the last session of the Legis lature a memorial had been addressed to the Secretary of State asking his assent to an Audit Act, which the Governor bed vetoed on the ground that one of its provisions, securing the auditor against arbitrary dismissal, was inconsis tent with the constitutional position of the colony. In support of their prayer the memorialists cet forth the unconstitutional conduct of the Government in regard to the expenditure of public moneys, and virtually sought the protection of the Colonial Office •gainst a course of action which, while glaringly illegal, had landed the country in a most unfortunate financial position. In a message which he sent down to the House a few days ago the Governor communicated to the memorialists the reply of the Secre tary of State, and gave them also for their information copies of the despatch which be had written when forwarding the document to Lord Kimberley. A perusal of this despatch roused in members a feeling of the strongest indignation, and made them painfully aware of how completely they were at the mercy of the local admi nistrator of the Government, and how useless must be the endeavor to secure any advantage to which he might happen to be opposed. Sir William Robinson skilfully picks up every little point which would tell in favor of the Government, and colors his statement in a spirit of thorough partisan chip, dwelling largely upon the supposed unconstitutional character of the particular provision in the Audit Bill to which I have alluded, and attempting to prove acquiescence of the Legislature in the illegal expenditure for which that provision was intended as a remedy. Further, the Go vernor points out that the measure was passed by the chairman's casting vote, and thinks it unnecessary to explain that with three exceptions the opponents of the Bill were confined to hie own representatives and nominees. Lord Kimberley conse quently makes so light of the Council's grievance that he does not even allude to it in his reply, but simply 6aya that he ap proves of the Governor's conduct, and will be prepared to consider an Audit Bill from which the objectionable provision shall have been eliminated. So we are no better off now than we were before this action was taken, and the Government at the approaching winter session will bring in its usual huge excess bill—huge for a poor colony like this—amounting this year to nearly £30,090. Before it received this slap in the fa?e the legislature had had bad times of it in other ■wajs. The Commissioner of Works had laid out the new railway so that it would cut up the Guildford Church-square, and completely spoil the appearance of the town, whereas a very alight deviation would have enabled the line to run up a broad street, and obviated the necessity of doing injury to private property of any description. The inhabitants of the town 'remonstrated and memorialised, and the Council introduced a clause into the Kailway BUI precluding the CommisEionerfrom entering upon the Guild ford Church lauds. Upon this the Com missioner raised a terrible hue and cry, appealed to the Governor, drew a harrow ing picture of the evils which would result if his advice were not acted upon, and finally threatened to resign. The conse quence was that the House received message after message from His Excellency asking members to review their decision, and that since they refused to do so the petty little matter was referred to the Secretary of State for his decision. Almest equally humiliating was the final scene of the ees&ion. In previous railway undertakings the country lias watched with impatience a waste of money which we can ill afford, and into the present Loan Bill the Council introduced a clause providing that estimates of loan expenditure should be presented to the Legislature for its approval and con firmation. The Commissioner was aghast, and hastened to inform the Governor that euch a thing was unheard of in any of .the neighboring colonies, and was perfectly un workable. Down comes a message from the Governor asking the Council to re consider this matter also, as in consequence of the Commissioner's representations he tiould feol himself precluded from assent ing to the Loan Bill if the clause were kept in, but promising to co-operate wiih members on a future occasion in en deavoring to secure for the Legislature euch control over loan expenditure as it might be found advisable to give it. Buoyed up by this assurance, and tired of the cease less fighting which had been going on, I regret to cay the Legislature gave way, struck out the clause, and thus placed itself at the mercy of the Government, obtaining in return for a somewhat chicken-hearted concession a little paragraph of thanks in the closing speech.
I must not forget to mention that during tlia getfiion action was taken to ascertain whether the Home Government would agree to the construction of railways ou the land grant system -with s view to carrying a rail way from the eastern districts to King George's Sound, thus connecting the capital with our magnificent southern port. Your proposal to construct a transcontinental tine by the same means has encouraged us tc make a similar attempt on a 6mall ECile, &cd seeing that a large part of the land through which the railway would ran is available for agriculture and is blessed with a fair rainfall aud good climate I see r.o reason why we should despair of success. What -we •want ie population. Oar own efforts to attract it hare been altogether abortive, but if we can get outside capital to do for ua that which we find it difficult to do for ourselves we may mate sure of a larger share of prosperity than we have' had hitherto, lief ore quitting political topics I must add tLat Lord Giffbrd and Mr. Onslow, the new occupants of the Treasury Bench, hava proved well-fitted for their position, and by their conciliatory manner and the sympa thetic attitude they hare assumed towards the House when in the course of their duty they were obliged to oppose the wishes of the elected members, have secured th? general goodwill and esteem of the Legis lature. The timber trade is aprain coming to the foie; eeveral sew BawmiUs have lately been eet on foot, and the reorganised Jarrah dale Timber Company is doing wonders at Rockingham. Mr. William Bigg, of Melbourne, the TnanHging director, has been visiting the colony, and lately invited the Chief • Justice and tha members of the Legislative and Executive Councils to accompany him to Jarrahdald on a vieit of inspection. A special train took the party to Fremantle, where carriages were in waiting to convey them to Rockingham, the company's place of ship ment. Here they found stacked enormop? piles of the most magnificent jarrah. sleepers, the soundest and best jarrah I have ever eeen; and alongside the jetty, within a few yards of the shore, a thousand ton ship, the Rollo, lay loading for India. On board the Rollo a champagne breakfast was given, and then the start for tha hills was made in steam tramcara. A. two hours' run, latterly up very steep inclines and round the sharpest of ehatp curves, brought the party to Jarrahdale* where floral arches had been erected in their honor, and they were received withr cheers from the workmen accompanied by a deafening discharge of guns and whistling; of eteam - engines. So little has been generally known of these timber mills at Jarrahdale, even in this colony, that tha visitors were in the highest degree* astonished at the extensive operations which they found going on, and at the busy and interesting Ecene which the village pre sented. From the manager's house the. huge steam-mill is seen lying at the bottom, of the valley, with a curious kind of scaf folding beside it on which 6,000 gallons of water are 6tored in case of fire, further up the slope are large workshops, stores, and a telegraph office, while the hillside is covered with cottages innumerable, in which, the large body of workmen live. In tha ranges at the back is a limitless supply of the beet jarrah timbsr—a supply which for years to come there is no feir of exhaust ing, and I sincerely trust that this energetic company will be able to do for the northera parts of the jarrah forest what Mr. M. C. Davits, of Adelaide, is successfully doing for the southern, and will open up an assured market in the colonies, India, and England for the most valuable timber which Australia produces. The death of Mr. G. E. C. Hare, Govern ment Resident st King George's Sound, causes many important official changes, chief amongst which is the removal of Mr. Sholl from his post of resident magistrate at Roebourne to the police magistracy of Perth. Mr. Sboll will be succeeded, I believe, by Mr. Hayes Laurence, a nephew of Gevemor Bailee's. Mr. Laurence is already known at the North, and is so un popular there that I anticipate very strong remonstrances from the settlers as a result of his appointment. Thongh unpopular ha is, however, s very conscientious mas, and has probably been chosen as likely to carry out efficiently the new pearling regulations in regard to the employment of natives. If he makes an attempt to cany them oat rigidly the pearling industry ■will I am afraid collapse, for with good intentions the regu lations have been se badly framed that they may almost be said to be unworkable. Tha Bob Roy left on her first trip to tha northern settlements a few days ago, crowded with passengers, including many visitors from the eastern colonies on their way to visit the Kimberley district. The first pioneers on the Fitzroy have not dona co well as was expected, but I think their non-success has purposely been somewhat exaggerated, and that the Fitzroy plain* will yet prove well adapted for pastoral pursuits. A report has lately been circulated of the discovery of gold. I place no faith in the story—it has been told too often. But the Government seem sanguine that this time they are not being hoaxed. That gold will eventually b? found I make no doubt; in email quantities it is well known to exist in many localities, but Ecthing like a payable field has yet been, heard of, and all the money we have spent in the pursuit of the precious metal has been entirely thrown away. However, if 1 turn out in this instance to have been im properly sceptical, I may have in my next letter to report the dawn of a new era of prosperity for Western Australia.