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1 correction by doug.butler - Show corrections

DISTRICT OF WEST TORRENS

a meeting of the electors of the above dis trictwas held in the District Hall, Hindmarsh, on Wednesday evening, March 20, for the pur pose of hearing Mr. W. H. Bean expound his

political opinions as a candidate for the repre sentation of the district. There were about 300 persons present, and Mr. J. Chittleborough pre- sided.

Mr. Bean, on rising to address the electors, was received with loud cheers. He said that when he called the meeting for that evening he was not aware of the fact that another meeting had been convened for the succeeding night. He would begin his speech by referring to a local matter. There ought to ba a new bridge over the Torrens at Hindmarsh. The present structure was simply a disgrace. (Hear, hear.) He would now turn to the question of reform in the Legislative Council. He had always been of opinion that the Council needed some reform, and if elected he would move in that direction. A deadlock could not occur in the Parliaments of New South Wales, Tasmania, New Zealand, or Queensland, because the Governors of those colonies had power to nominate members. If half of our Legislative Council were sent to the country at stated periods, a majority could be secured to carry out the wishes of the people. He did not think the plan that had been pro- posed by the Treasurer for the reform of the Council went far enough, but it would be getting the thin edge of the wedge in, and that would ba a great deal. Law reform had been talked about for many years here, but it had not yet been carried out. The policy of the present Government was very deficient in this respect. He would like to wipe away the Equity Court in connection with tne Supreme Court, and he would like to extend the jurisdiction to any amount and retain the Supreme Court only as a Court of Appeal. He had always opposed payment of members, and he still opposed it. (Cheers.) In his opinion the present state of affairs in Victoria was attributab'e to the system of paying members of Parliament — (Hear, hear)— and he would be extremely sorry to see such a state of things in South Australia. (Cheers.} He was in favour of the Acts relating to real property being amended and consolidated.   (Hear, hear.) Parliament, too, should have the proper control of the expenditure of money out of the Loan Funds. The Commissioner of Public Works could now spend whatever money he liked out of that fund without sanction, whilst if some clerk's salary was sought to be raised £20 or £30 the item would have to be brought before the House in a proper manner. This was a very important question, and should be attended to without delay, as although we might have every faith in our Commissioners some unscrupulous one might take advantage of the present system some day. He would also like to see some alteration in the system of selling bonds. In New Zealand Sir Julius Vogel had arranged with the Bank of England to have inscribed stock. An arrangement of a similar kind would save South Australia £35,000 per year. Every £1,000,000 floated in London cost £5,000. Our present bonded debt amounted to £5,922,700, the annual interest on which was £271,452. We were now redeeming our bonds at the rate of £34,400 per annum. Act No. 77 of 1877 authorized the issue of £1,036,600 at 4 per cent., the interest on which was £41,464, whilst Act No. 80 of 1877 authorized the issue of Treasury bills to the amount of £163,700 at £1 11s. 3d. per cent., the interest on which would be £7,468 — the total interest per annum, including the £34,400 which he had already mentioned, being £83,332. These bonds were authorized, but were not yet issued, and would be redeemable in two years after issue. If to this £83,332 was added £271,452, the annual interest on the bonded debt, we should get a sum of £354,784 which we had to pay every year. In addition to this, how- ever, the £163,700 worth of Treasury bills would have to be met in two years, as he had already shown, and thus an extra amount of £31,850 each year would make the total amount to be paid by the colony for the next two years, irrespective of additional interest on any new bonds that might be issued, £436,284. Then came the question how was this interest to be paid. Our revenue would not pay it, because our revenue and expenditure were about equal. If additional taxation was unnecessary it must be paid out of the amounts falling due for land sold, which amounts were as follows: — 1878, £309,775-; 1879, £512,801 ; 1880, £631,545 ; 1881, £754,720; 1882, £738,333 ; and 1883, £151,677. It must also be borne in mind that in consider ing these figures regard must be had to cancella- tions and forfeitures that might be made. There was plenty of money out of the land sales to meet this expenditure ; but was it fair that the lands of the colony should be sold in order to pay our bonded debt and interest ? (No.) Seeing that railways, roads, bridges, and so forth were constructed to the special advantage of pro- perty, he did not see why property should not pay its fair proportion to the revenue. (Cheers.) He would therefore strongly support a property tax, and one, too, that would reach absentees. (Cheers.) Under any circumstances, it was absolutely necessary that the absentee should pay something towards the government of this country. The absentee drew large sums of money from the colony, his property was pro- tected, and he was not summoned to serve on juries, and he should contribute some thing to the revenue of the colony to compensate for those advantages. (Cheers.) Whilst upon this question he might refer to an income tax. He did not think an income tax a desirable tax at all, and in England they were trying to get rid of it. He did not think it was fair to tax a man who got his living by brain power, and if an income tax were introduced we would make a great difference between a man who got his living by brain power and a man whose income was derived from property. (Hear, hear.) The next question he wished to touch upon was that of a pier or breakwater, or as some called it an outer harbour. He knew from many sources that we ought to have greater facilities for shipping and large steamers than those which existed at the present time. In fact large steamers like the Chimbo- razo could not come to Port Adelaide at present, and Mr. Charrock had told him that unless greater facilities were afforded he would have to recommend the owners not to send any more such steamers. This state of things could not long continue, because the owners were put to very great cost and inconvenience ; and if they could not get proper accommodation they would not send their steamers here at all. It had been said that the stream could be deepened so as to admit of the passage of large vessels. True, it might be deepened, but it could not be widened without several years' labour was expended on the undertaking. No doubt many people at Port Adelaide thought that the outer harbour would ruin the Port. He did cot think it would. On the contrary he believed that an outer harbour would be the means of improving it. Cheaper freights would be obtainable, and in many other respects the works would prove a great advantage no!j only te Port Adelaide, but to South Australia generally. (Cheers.) He should therefore strongly support the outer harbour scheme, particularly as we could borrow the money for the undertaking at 4 per cent. He believed also that it would be a good specu lation for tbe Government to take in haud, even if. it only paid 4 per cent, in return. It had been said that the outer harbour, if constructed, would silt up again in a very short time; but the fact that 100 years ago Captain Flinders sur veyed this coast, and laid down preciselythe same soundings as Lieutenant Goalen did two years ago, proved very clearly that it would not silt up again. He now came to a very important question, and that was to convert West Torrens into a manufacturing district. (Cheers.) He had always advocated this being done, and should continue to advocate it. He had seen manufacturing districts in different parts of the world during the past few years, aud he was convinced that West Torrens was particularly adapted for being converted into a manufacturing district. It had indeed been such a district to some extent from the establishment of the colony, but not to the extent he desired to see it become. With a large number of manufactories in the neigh- bourhood property would become more valuable, houses would increase in number, and tbe place would go rapidly ahead. He had long and persistently opposed   immigration at the public expense except when in connection with large public works ; and he would do so in the future. He certainly preferred a system of assisted immi- gration ; but it must be evident to most people thai; if we were having large public works con structed we should have to secure a steady flow of immigration to keep the works supplied. (An Elector—' Yes, at 4s. 6d. per day.') No; he did not think it would come to that. He believed the Government would pay fair wages ; at any rate if they did not they ought to do. (Hear, hear, and laughter.) He found that during the last five years the colony had expended £292,751 in immigration. That was a large amount of money, and there was a time when immigration was continued to this country and we were simply supplying Victoria with labour. Such, he was happy to say, was not the case now — (cheers)— and in order io prove his statement he would quote a few figures. In 1873 the population of South Australia was 198,000, and in 1876 it rose to 225,677 ; the immigration for the same years being 4,548 and 13,841 respectively. The revenue at the same time rose from £967,649 in 1873 to £1,441,401 in 1S76, being an excess of 50 per cent. (Cheers.) This showed that fte country was in an exceedingly prosperous condition. (Cheers.) Taking this prosperity into consideration, we were^ perfectly justified in goirg on with public works and extending our railway svstera. It should be borne in mind that we could hot

spend capital without employing'Jabour ; there fore it would be a very beneficial thing for South Australia to carry out these works. He should strongly support any railway that was likely to become remunerative or would facilitate the opening up of the country. A large number of railways had been proposed by the present Government to be carried out in the future. If he were returned to the House he would visit the districts through which these lines were intended to run, and if he thought they were needed he should vote for them. It might be interesting to know in connection with the pro gress of the colony that the postal and tele graphic revenue in 1873 was £75,079, whilst in 1877 it was £102,773, or an increase of about 25 per cent. The Port-road, or, as it used to be called, the ' civilized wallaby track,' was a thorough disgrace to the Governmeat. (Loud cheers.) It was one of the oldest roads in the colony, and it was one of the first duties of the Government to keep it in repair. It appeared as if the road had been neglected simply because there was a Government railway running parallel with it. It was on the schedule of main roads, and ought to be attended to just the same as other roads. If he had the honour of representing their interests in Parliament he would exert himself to the utmost to get the road put into repair. He, with the assistance of Mr. Strangways, had got the tolls on the Port road repealed, and he would even go so far as to say that whether he was elected or not he would work to the best of his ability with a view to getting the road repaired. The Northern Territory had been called a white elephant- a name which it perhaps well deserved ; but he did not think it would be a white elephant much longer, as he believed that we should still be able to make something of that portion of our territory. The total cost to South Aus- tralia of the Northern Territory was £406,000, and this sum was exclusive of interest due on amounts then borrowed of five loans, amounting to £260,000. This was a large amount cer- tainly, and unless we did something to push the place ahead we were not at all likely to have the money returned to us. It was a great pity that the system of introducing Mennonites had not been carried out as proposed by Mr. Boucaut, as they were a desirable class of colonists for such a place, and very different from the Chinese. (Cheers.) He had seen a great deal of the Chi- nese in Queensland and New Zealand, and he unhesitatingly averred that it would be a blot on the fair fame of South Australia if the Go- vernment were ever to introduce them into this country. (Cheers.) They were a very objec- tionable class of people. They took large quan- tities of opium, were very dirty, aud suffered severely from disease. He should use his greatest efforts to prevent their entrance into South Australia in any large number. (Cheers.) The Land Bill that had been passed recently by our Parliament was a credit to those who had been instrumental in passing it. The Act, however, could be improved in one parti- cular, and that was by allowing squatters to take up the waste lands of the Crown that were unfit for agricultural purposes on longer tenure. The insolvency laws required amendment ; indeed they had been in need of amendment for years, and they should be amended with as little delay as possible. He was an advocate of abolishing the present system of imprisonment for debt. If an insolvent deliberately got rid of his property and swindled his creditors he deserved to be treated as a criminal and tried by a Jury. (Cheers.) At present a man who was imprisoned for debt simply went to gaol and had a very lazy time of it. His friends, if they   chose to do so, could moreover come forward and pay a compromise and take him out of gaol. That was grossly unfair. (Cheers.) Ha wished now to refer to another local matter, viz., the need of level crossings in two of the streets in Bowden which were crossed by the railway. At present there was a cutting underneath the railways in these streets— Gibson and Drayton streets— and he was told that a large load could not pass under — not even a hooded buggy could pass. In consequence of this the property around these places had been very materially injured. The owners of the land ought to have been compensated by the Government for having injured their property, and the Government ought also to make level crossings. (Cheers.) He (Mr. Bean) felt confident that if the member for the district had been acquainted with these facts be could have made out a strong case and in duced the Government to construct level cross ings over the streets he had named. With respect to the tariff, he would not suggest any alteration being made in it at all. The tariff was working very well at the present time, and the fewer alterations that were made in it the better it would be understood by the commercial community. He should certainly oppose any proposed tinkering of the tariff, but if a property tax were levied he would seek to have the duty on sugar, tea, and coffee removed, so that we might have a cheaper table than we had now. (Cheers.) The cost per head through the Customs in this colony was not very high ; it was not £2 per head. The increase of the Customs during the last five years had been at the rate of 35 per cent., the amount for 1873 having been £362,246 3s. 8d.; for 1874, £370,439 13s. 9d.; for 1875, £399,10318s. 5d.; for 1876, £444,516 10s. 5d.; and for 1877, £491,701 8s. lOd. There was a deal of talk at the present time about making a railway to Melbourne via Mount Barker. If South Australia was to be the Brindisi of the Australias it would be absolutely necessary first of all to provide a proper port of call for ocean steamers, and he should not therefore support such a railway until better facilities than those which existed now had been secured. (Hear, hear.) The owners of the mail steamers he understood would not allow their boats to bring cargo to Adelaide direct from Calcutta, owing to the insufficient accom modation for landing. Such cargo had to be taken on to Melbourne. South Australia, from her geographical position, should be the first place of call, and he hoped some day to see the necessary accommodation for steamers provided. When formerly in the House he never missed being present at its sittings a single day as far as he could remember; in fact he be lieved he was in more divisions than any other member. If returned to Par liament he would exercise the same care and vigilance in connection with matters that affected the interests of the district, and he would endeavour to represent his constituents to the best of his ability. He thanked those pre3enb for the careful and attentive hearing they had accorded to him, and would now be glad to answer any questions that might ba put to him. Mr. Bean resumed his seat amid prolonged and enthusiastic applause. In answer to questions, the candidate said he was in favour of the eight hours system. He thought it would be wise if public-houses were opened for an hour on Sunday evenings. If it was proper to open them for an hour in the morning there could surely be no objection to the houses being open for an hour in the evening. (Cheers.) If the majority of the inhabitants of a new township like Goodwood Park did not wish to have a public-bouse they ought to have the power of preventing one being built, but it was certainly hard that after a house had been erected a licence should be refused for it. If   elected he would attend assiduously to all local requirements. He would strongly support the compulsory clause of the Education Act being enforced in districts where it was practicable. Personally he felt so strongly on the Chinese question that he would be in favour of a poll tax being imposed on tbe Mongolians, on their entrance into the colony. It might not be known to all that there was a treaty between England and China for the free interchange of people. If we were to pass an Act providing for a poll tax, therefore, it would have to be reserved for the Queen's assent. Queensland was suffering greatly at present on account of the Chinese problem, and was in communication with her sister colonies with a view to securing their aid in the matter. He was in favour of the Queen's Guineas. He was also in favour of a system whereby prostitutes and their abettors would be prevented from walking the streets of the city and suburbs Mr. B. Taylor, J.P., then proposed Mr. Bean as a fit and proper person to represent the dis- trict in the forthcoming Parliament. (Cheers.) Mr. Bean was thoroughly acquainted with the requirements of the neighbourhood, and was also well suited for the position. (Cheers.) Mr. Levi Groves seconded the proposition, which was supported by Mr. Thomas, and carried, with only one dissenting voice. Mr. Bean having returned thanks for the confidence placed in him by the electors, the meeting then terminated.

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