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16th August, 1895, was succeeded as Governor by Sir Gerard Smith, who arrived in Deceniber. The administration in the interval was carried on by the Chief Justice, Sir A. C. Onslow. A remarkably large number of fires occurred during this year, those at Coolgardie, Fremantle, and Southern Cross involving a loss of property estimated at £150,000.

A vigorous public works policy was the most noticeable feature of the administration of the state during 1896. Railway construction was rapidly proceeded with, in order to bring the gold fields into communication with the metropolis. The line to Coolgardie was opened on the 21st March, and the extension to Kalgoorlie was ready for traffic in July. The erection of public buildings in Perth and other centres of population provided einployment for a large body of skilled and unskilled workmen. During the year, the Government acquired the private land grant railway between Albany and Beverley, the purchase money paid being £1,100,000, and the Perth Water Works was also taken over from the Perth Wat Supply Company, at a cost of £220,000. A strong desire to take up land was in evidence at this period, and a rapid extension of settlement was the outcome. In Parliament the following motions were debated, and carried :—“That the Government take steps to attract farmers and other labourers to the colony,” and “That the Government communicate with Dr. Barnardo with a view to his sending young people to the colony." The loan floated in the course of the year was over-subscribed, and matters generally were in such a prosperous condition that the Treasurer was again able to declare a surplus. The chief legislative work was the passing of an Enabling Act to ensure representation at the Federal Convention, though, in order to validate the subsequent election of delegates it was found necessary to hold a special session early in 1897. A somewhat remarkable step was taken during the year by the Governor, who dismissed Mr. Venn (Commissioner of Public Works) from the Cabinet, on account of his having published in the press a minutein which he charged the Premier with a want of loyalty to him in the administration of the Works and Railways Departments. The affair naturally created a sensation, and at a mass meeting held shortly afterwards in Perth the Government were severely criticised and a National Reform League instituted.

In 1897 there was an increased demand for land suitable for settlement, and this was accentuated by the discovery of fresh tracts of excellent pastoral country in the northern districts. The output of gold for the year was far in advance of that recorded for previous years, and West Australia, for the first time, displaced New South Wales in the list of gold-producing countries, coming next to Victoria and Queensland in volume of production. The discovery of tellurides containing gold and silver, which was made at Kalgoorlie and elsewhere, attracted much attention, as it meant a large increase in the output of the precious metal. Signs of continued progress were everywhere apparent. The erection of buildings in Perth and other towns proceeded rapidly ; the harvest returns were satisfactory, and, in spite of increased expenditure to meet expanding wants, there was a surplus of revenue.

At the general elections, in April and May, Sir John Forrest was again returned by a substantial majority, his term of premiership eclipsing that of any other Premier of Australia. The new Parliament held a special session to pass a Federal Enabling Bill, the Premier being appointed to convey the resolutions and amendments to the Convention. Heavy rains fell throughout the colony in the early part of the year, and destructive storms and floods occurred on the Murchison in February, while a whirlwind at Bunbury also inflicted serious damage to property. As in the previous year, considerable loss was occasioned by tires in Perth and Fremantle, as well as in the townships on the goldfields.

At the beginning of the Parliamentary session of 1898 a somewhat peculiar difficulty arose. Mr. Leake, the leader of the Opposition, had proposed an amendment to the Address-in-Reply, which the Government refused to accept as a no-confidence motion. While the debate was in progress the Council also passed a resolution which was antagonistic to the Government. The Premier, however, ignored this, and stated that the Government did not hold office at the pleasure of the Council. A few days later it was announced that the Cabinet had agreed to accept the Opposition amendment as a motion of non-confidence, but on being put to the vote it was defeated by 22 to 6. Later on in the session a Government proposal in connection with the Education Bill was rejected, and the leader of the Opposition thereupon attacked the Government for not resigning when a vital principle in a measure was defeated ; but the Premier declined to look at the matter in this light, and the motion for adjournment of the House was defeated on the voices. During the year there was a remarkable increase in the output of gold, and with a production of over a million ounces West. Australia in 1898 occupied the premier position amongst the Australasian colonies, having risen from the fourth to the first place in the course of two years. The

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also saw a considerable expansion of the railway system through the opening of the Kalgoorlie to Menzies extension, and the taking over of the lines from Mullewa to Cue and Kalgoorlie to Kanowna. But the vigorous public works policy of the past few years received a check when the Treasurer announced a deficit of over half a million. Against this there were, of course, the surpluses of previous years, but, after allowing for these, there was still a debit of nearly £200,000. Cossack, Roeburne, and the surrounding districts were visited by a destructive hurricane in April, several vessels being driven ashore, and damage done to the extent of £15,000. During the year there were further extensive fires in Perth, Coolgardic, and Menzies, accompanied by the loss of much valuable property.

In 1899, the attitude of the Government with respect to Federation met with the disapproval of a section of the community, the dissatisfaction being most pronounced in the gold-fields area. When, in spite of the efforts of the Opposition, the Bill was rejected, a numerously signed petition was prepared in favour of separating the gold-fields districts from the remainder of West Australia and federating with the eastern colonies. Indeed the gold-fields proved somewhat of a thorn in the side of the Government during 1899. Not only was their representation increased to the number of thirty, a gainst the wishes of the Premier, but serious trouble arose at Kalgoorlie over the old allurial claim question. Armed police were sent to the field from Perth and arrested a number of men for alleged larceny of ore. A conflict was narrowly averted between the police and alluvialists, and the situation was further strained by subsequent arrests. This difference between the Government and the miners did not tend to make the latter willing to accept the decision of the Ministry regarding Federation, and the agitation grew in intensity, and even spread to the coastal districts. Meetings were held in various centres, and the action of the Government was strongly condemned. The year showed many evidences of returning prosperity, the output of gold being recorded at 1,643,876 oz., or over balf a million ounces more than that for 1898, and far in advance of the return from any other state. An event worthy of record here is the liquidation of the Coolgardie Prospecting Syndicate, which took place on the 2nd October, 1899. During its six years of existence the syndicate had opened up such properties as the Great Boulder, Associated Mines, Ivanhoe, and others, and was probably one of the most successful mining “combines” in the world. The year's record of fires included two at Kalgoorlie and one at Geraldton, the total damage being estimated at £20,000, while bush fires devastated the Arthur district. Amongst the other more notable events of the year were the opening of the Coolgardie Exhibition on the 21st March, and the despatch of West Australia's first contingent to South Africa on the 2nd November.

The Separation movement initiated on the gold-fields area as a counter check to the abandonment of the Federation Bill by the Parliament gathered way in the early months of 1900, and the electors in that division were so evidently in earnest in the matter that Sir John Forrest went east to ask for some amendment in the constitution in the direction of securing his state against the loss of Customs revenue, which hitherto had proved the great obstacle, in spite of the concessions made in the Bill approved by the Convention. Shortly afterwards, a special session of Parliament was called together, and passed an Enabling Bill providing for a referendum. The strength of the Federal sentiment was made manifest in the result of the voting, the majority in favour of union being more than two to one. At the referendum, women voted for the first time in the colony, the franchise having been conferred upon them by an Act passed in the previous year. In his budget speech, the Treasurer was able to announce a surplus, and affairs generally were in a prosperous condition, in spite of the fact that heavy losses were caused in several parts of the colony by bush fires, floods, and storms. On the 22nd March, 1900, Sir Gerard Smith left for England, after a period of office lasting about four years and three months, and on the following day Chief Justice Sir A. C. Onslow took up the duties of administration, which he discharged (except during a short absence, during which Mr. Justice Stone officiated,) until the arrival of the new Governor, Sir Arthur Lawley.

The retirement of Sir John Forrest from the arena of local politics on his acceptance of office in the first Federal Cabinet, in conjunction with other causes, brought about a rather complicated state of affairs. On his resignation, in February, after a second period as Premier, he handed over the duties of his office to Mr. Throssell, whose Cabinet, which was sworn in on the 14th February, consisted, for the most part, of members of the Forrest Ministry. There had, however, been an increase made in the number of electorates by the previous Parliament, and this alteration came into effect at the general election of 1901, and consequently more than half the members of the new House had never sat in Parliament before. Having lost two of his ministers at the poll, and suffered other losses in the strength of his party, Mr. Throssell anticipated defeat by resigning Mr. Illingworth, leader of the Opposition, was sent for, and, after some trouble, succeeded in forming a Ministry. In this Cabinet, however, Mr. Leake was recognised as having the precedence, and he became Premier, holding office until the 21st November, when a combination of circumstances gave Mr. Piesse, the leader of the party on the left of the Speaker, a narrow majority in the House. Mr. Piesse was unsuccessful in his efforts to form a Ministry, and thereupon advised that Mr. Morgans should be sent for. Mr. Morgans had better fortune, and held his position till the 23rd December, when Mr. Leake again succeeded in displacing bim, and held office till his death on the 24th June, 1902. The new Governor, Sir Arthur Lawley, arrived in the state on the 30th April, and was sworn in on the 1st May. Further extensions of the railway system were made during the year by the opening of the Menzies-Leonora line, and the prosperity of the gold-fields was exemplified by a record yield, which eclipsed all previous returns. Trouble in connection with the railway employees at length culminated in a strike which almost paralysed goods and passenger traffic for some time. Happily the strike was not of long duration, as the gold-fields, compelled to draw their supplies from the coast, were threatened with a famine. An exploration party left Perth during April to prosecute further exploration in the Kimberley district, and returned to the metropolis at the close of the year. As a result of their investigations, a large tract of fine pastoral country was located, but the expedition was unsuccessful in finding any traces of mineral wealth.

The early months of 1902 were full of promise of great prosperity. Receipts in almost every instance exceeded the Treasurer's estimate, and the debit balance was completely eliminated. The gold yield for the first quarter was returned at 498,356 ounces, an increase of 96,418

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ounces on the corresponding period for 1901. The Parliament closed its labours in February, after the longest session held since responsible government. In spite of the drawbacks occasioned by repeated change of parties, a fair amount of useful legislation was accomplished, including such measures as the Arbitration and Conciliation Act and a Workmen's Compensation Act. In April, the practicability of the Coolgardie Water Supply Scheme was demonstrated by the opening of the supply station at Northam. The scheme consists in the establishment of a reservoir in the coastal district and the conveyance of water along what is probably the most lengthy pipe line in the world. Pumping stations were erected at various spots along the route, and the whole work constitutes one of the largest single contracts undertaken in any of the Australian states. In May, the elections for the Legislative Council were held, the membership of this Chamber having been increased from twenty-four to thirty.

Mr. George Leake, who died on the 24th June, 1902, after a short illness, was succeeded in the premiership by Mr. W. H. James on the 1st July, the members of the new ministry, with one exception, being the same as those of the Leake Government.

Sir Arthur Lawley, who had become extremely popular during his short term of administration, left the state on the 14th August to take up duty as Lieutenant-Governor of the Transvaal. Pending the arrival of his successor, the Chief Justice, Sir E. Stone, assumed office as Lieutenant-Governor.

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