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CHAMBER OF COMMERCE.
[We are obliged to insert the following valuable Report without comment from present want of space. — Ed. S.A.K.] At the Annual General Meeting of the Chamber of Commerce, held on MondaV. the 4th AlltmSt instant — John HaWr F.*n in tho rimir ? «
ballot toot place for several new members, and the following office bearers for the ensuing year were elected : — Chairman— George Elder, jun., Esq.; Deputy Chairman— John Baker, Esq. ; Members of Committee — J. B. Montenore, A. Macdonald, George Hall, Abraham Scott, Thos. Waterhouse, George Young. N. P. LeBair, F. J. Beck, John Hart, Esqrs.; Treasurer— Alexander Macdonald, Esq., Managefof the Union Bank; Secretary— David Melville, Esq. The following Report was read by the Secretary : — The Committee of the Chamber of Commerce beg leave, in accordance with the rules and regulations, to submit the following Report of their proceedings during the past year: — Mercantile Charges — One of the first acts of the Committee was to frame a scale of mercantile charges, in order to bring about a more uni form practice among merchants than had hitherto been found to exist, and by establishing a standard of appeal, to put an end to the frequent disputes which were taking place betwixt principals and their agents. This scale, after being maturely considered and revised, was directed to be printed, and copies of it may now be obtained of the. Secretary. Stobaoe ok Guxpowdeb— The attention of the Committee having been called to the exorbitant rates of storage charged on gunpowder, and to the many disadvantages attending the present system of bonding that article, they directed the Secretary to forward a ^representation to the Colonial Secretary, in which the following improvements were urged upon the notice of the Government:— 1st. Tnat the present charges should be reduced at least one-half. 2nd. That additional conveniences should be furnished for unshipping and storage at the Port. Aud 3rd. That a magazine should be erected in some convenient place near Ade laide. To this application an unfavourable reply was returned by the Government Tabiff.— The next subject which engaged the attention of the Com mittee was the Customs tariff. It had long been felt by the mercantile community that the existing tariff required remodelling. The chief objections to it were that it was too long and complex, there being no fewer than 230 enumerated articles, the effect of which was to render its operation vexatious and perplexing; and also, that the duties on spirits and tobacco were too high, so that smuggling was encouraged to the detriment of the revenue, and the injury of the honest trader. The Committee, impressed with the necessity of remedying these defects, prepared and transmitted to the Government a new tariff, the prominent features of which were as follows :— 1st. A reduction of the duties now levied — On SDirits. from 10s. to
5s. per gallon; on tobacco, 2s. to Is. per lb.; on cigars, 5s. to 2s. perlb. 2nd. The substitution of a general rate of 5 per cent, ad valorem, Instead of the present scale of duties on general merchandise. To the table of exemptions in the existing tariff they also proposed to add printed books, pictures, engravings, and works of art, coals and other fuel. The Committee would have added many more articles to this list, and have suggested further reductions in the rates of duties, but for the Eousideration that the exigencies of the Government might not warrant any diminution in the amount of revenue derived from this source of taxation. The leading principles of the tariff propounded by the Com mittee are — 1st, Simplicity in detail, so that the importer may be no longer embarrassed in his calculations, and the clearance of goods may be performed with facility and despatch ; 2ndly, Freedom of trade, as exemplified by the absence of all discriminating duties, and the imposi tion of the lowest rates of duties compatible with the revenue require ments of the Government; and, lastly, Such an equalization of our duties with those levied on the neighbouring colonies as would, with the low rate of duty charged, completely remove all incentive to smug gling. There is reason to believe that the tariff will be one of the first questions brought before the new Legislative Council ; and it will be the duty of the Committee of Management for the ensuing year to watch the proceedings of the House on that question, and to make such repre sentations from time to time as the nature of the citse may require. Fire and Marine Ixscbaxce. — In the mouth of January last, the Committee were led to make an investigation as to the facilities which existed for effecting Fire and Marine Insurance in Smith Australia. This is a subject of great importance to the mercantile interest. The growing increase of our trade, and the consequent accumulation of valuable property, both ou shore and afloat, render it extremely desirable that ample means should be at command for enabling our traders to pro tect themselves from the accidents of sea and fire. With respect to fire insurance, the enquiries set on foot by the Committee elicited the fact that the accommodation to the public under this head was nearly all that could be desired, there being in Adelaide four respectable offices for fire insurance, whicli are prepared to ensure on any one subject or set of premises to the following extent :— The Sonth Australian Mutual ? £1,500 ?* Alliance ? 8,000 ' Imperial ? 5,000 ' Cornwall ? 3,000
£17,500 The rates of insurance have also been materially reduced of late, and arc likely to become still lower, in consequence of increasing competi tion. With respect to marine insurance, on the other hand, the accom modation is most inadequate, there being only one office at present in operation, viz., the Cornwall, whose agent is restricted from taking more than £-2,000 on one vessel, unless under peculiar circumstances, au extent totally insufficient to meet the requirements of th» trade. It is to be hoped that this state of tilings will be remedied by thu establishment of other agencies here, or by the formation of a local Company iu room of the one lately dissolved. Lighthouse ox Troubridge Shoal.— The Committee being strongly of opinion that a lighthouse should immediately be erected on Trou bridge Shoal, made a representation to the Government on the subject so far back as February last, in which they urged that the many in stances which have occurred of vessels being wrecked or sustaining injury on that Shoal called loudly for the adoption of some precautionary measures; that doubtless -there would have been taken before this time but for a too prevalent idea that the Shoal is so well known that au accident can only occnr through negligence on the part of those to whom the navigation of the vessel is entrusted ; that this idea was most erroneous no survey of the Shoal having been made since the time of Flinders, although its features are knowti to have altered considerably during the half century, there bring now an island with vegetation on the spot marked by him as dry at low water. The vessels coming from the westwanl being accustomed to give the Shoal a wide berth on account of their being no conspicuous object to warn them of the danger were exposed to another peril, that of being found during the night or in the morning on a lee shore, with not sufficient canvas to work off; thatthp loss of the Tigress was doubtless owing to this cause ; that if alight were placed on the Shoal, vessels would be enabled to round itas closely as prudence would allow, and so in heavy weather get at once into smooth water, where they might heave-to for thu night, and ran with safety for the usual anchorage in the morning. That the light would also be of advantage to outward-bound vessels which were sometimes carried on the Shoal by the strong current ruuning through the Back stairs passage, and that it would be the means of providing another place of refuge for such vessels, which, instead of runuing for Point Marsden, would have the choice of riding out the gale under the lee of Yorke's Peninsula. To this representation the Government replied after a lapse of about three months, to the effect that the proposal to erectftliguthou.se on Troubridge Shoal had been brought before the former Legislative Council and negatived by all the members except the lion. John Morphett ; that His Excellency the Lientenant-Governor admitted the importance of the subject, and would embrace au early opportunity of bringing it before the new Council. The Committee have entered thus minutely into details, as the loss which has just taken place of another and valuable vessel on Troubridge Shoal invests the question with increased importance, aud would seem to indicate that not a moment should be lost on the part of the Executive in carrying out the recommendations of the Chamber of Commerce. SHUGGLtxii os the Eastekx Frostier. — The next act of the Com mittee was to call the attention of the Government to the great loss to the revenue and injury to trade arising from the extensive importation of stores of all descriptions, including spirits and tobacco, now carried on along the eastern frontiers of the province. Telegraphic Communication's with Port Adelaide.— In conse quence of the intolerable delays in the transmission of shipping intelligence from Port Adelaide, the Committee were led to enquire into this best means of establishing a proper system of telegraphic communi cation. Tho present system of signals, the information conveyed by which is restricted to tho bare fact that a vessel of some particular rig is arrived, is confessedly totally inadequate to meet the mercantile requirements of the community. The semaphore, which would be a great improvement oa the present system, is also open to objection. It would be expensive, as an intermediate station would be required betwixt the city and the port. It would prove partially inoperative, as in certain states of the atmosphere the signals could not be distin guished, and after davlight could never be employed. Lastly, it would
be found slow and defective as a means of conducting correspondence. It appeared to the Committee that the electric telegraph, which labours under none of these disadvantages, which could be maintained at a cheaper expense than the semaphore, would bs founl practicable in all suites of the atmosphere, and prove as efficient by night as bv day, and which nndisputably possesses the advantage of celerity and precision in its communications, might be adopted with facility and great advantage to the community. With respect to the cost of construction, the Com mittee ascertained that six American lines of telegraph, measuring in all 1,108 miles, cost £27,246 5s., or abont £25 currency (£24 sterling) per mile. Assuming that the expense in this colony would be £40 per mile, the Committee conceived that the following might be hazarded as a rough estimate of the cost of constructing a line on Morse's plan betwixt Adelaide and the Port: — Distance, say 10 miles, at £40 ? £400 Fittings of two stations, with apparatus complete ? 200 Sundries ? ioo Total cost ? £700 The working expenses per annum were estimated at ? £550 The Committee would express the hope that a Company will yet be formed to construct such a line of telegraph, which they believe would not only be self-supporting, but would afford a liberal return for the capital embarked in the undertaking. CnARGEs ox Execution or Orders to Beitaix.— In addition to the general scale of mercantile charges referred to at the commencement of this Keport, the Committee, in March last framed a supple mentary scale especially applicable to the execution of orders for goods from Great Britain, which is now becoming an important branch of trade. Government Bonded Waiiehouse. axd System of Licexsisg Wharves and Warehouse.— On the 3rd April last, a series of reso lutions passed at a meeting of Port Agents, held at Port Adelaide, with reference to a proposed alteration, at the instance of the Col lector of Customs, in the mode of entering bonded goods — also with reference to the condition of the Government Warehouse, and the term for which it was proposed to lease the same— were transmitted to the Chamber, with a request that it would co-operate with the Port Agents in the object therein mentioned ; whereupon the Committee addressed a letter to the Colonial Secretary, in which, after deprecating any in terference with the established custom of clearing merchandise in bond, and pointing out the defective nature of the Government store, which was ill adapted for the safe custody of many descriptions of goods, they called on His Excellency the liieutenant-Govemor to encourage the erection of suitable buildings at Port Adelaide, and also the construction of additional wharves, by signifying the willingness of Government to grant licences for their free use, the Committee being of opinion that the true practical remedy for deficient warehouse accommo dation and excessive bonding charges was to be sought in public com petition. To this representation a very satisfactory reply was returned on behalf of his Excellency, who, it was stated, is prepared to grant licences for all wharves and warehouses, which shall be pronounced by competent authority as suitable for the purposes designed. Delat ix Delivery of the -3krtificates of Bonded Goods. — The great inconvenience and loss to which the mercantile community hare been subjected in consequence of the unusual delay in the delivery.of certi ficates of bonded goods, induced the Committee to investigate the subject, with the view of making a remonstrance to the Government. A report was accordingly prepared, but further action on the part of the Com mittee was rendered unnecesary in consequence of a communication from the Collector of Customs addressed to a mercantile firm here, but which he desired might be laid before the Chamber of Commerce, from which it appeared that the Customs authorities were not to blame for
the abuse complained of, which was whouy chargeable to the lessees of I one of the bonded warehouses, who could obviate it by the employment ofacA«c& clerk, but who had hitherto refrained from motives of false economy from incurring that necessary expense. The Committee have reason to'believe that steps will now be adopted to remedy this com plaint for the future. Postal Arrangements.— A letter having been received fron Mr. MacDermott, Manager of the Bank of Australasia, enclosing* a corres pondence which had taken place between him and the Government, on the subject of the inconvenience sustained by the public from having no opportunity afforded of forwarding letters by vessels detained from various causes at the Lightship after their mails are closed at the Post Office in Adelaide, and requesting the Chamber to take such further steps in the matter as thev may deem necessary, the Committee, on receipt of that letter, proceeded to investigate the case, and ultimately forwarded to the Colonial Secretary a representation, setting forth what they conceived to be the best remedy for the inconvenience complained of. ' On receipt of the reply of the Government to that communication, the document:! will doubtless be published by the new Committee of Management for the information of the public. Registry Act axd Baa-kbupt Law. — The Committeee have also had under consideration two questions of great importance to the com munity, viz, the Registry Act and the Bankrupt Law. Some months ago they appointed Sub-Committees from their number to enquire into the working of these Ordinances, and to report. These Sub-Committees have since been conducting their investigations, but on account of the intricate nature of the subjects, and numerous inroads on their time, they liave not yet been able to bring their labours to a close. These questions will, therefore, necessarily occupy the attention of the Com mittee of Management for the ensuing year. Arbitration — The Committee have had, during the course of the year, a number of cases submitted to them for arbitration ; and although it is impossible in such cases to please all parties, they have reason to believe that their decisions have Riven general satisfaction, and that the system of arbitration provided' for in the constitution of the Chamber is likely to be attended with benefit to the interest of commerce. All which is respectfully submitted. JOHN BAKER, Chairman. GEORGE ELDER, Jun., Deputy-Chairman. D. MELVILLE, Secretary. The foregoing Report was approved of and adopted by the Chamber, and ordered to be published. A vote of thanks was unanimously passed to the Chairman, Deputy Chairman, and Committee, and to Mr. Melville, the Secretary. JOHN BAKER, Chairman.