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pursuing what is known in Australia as a vigorous policy of public works. The Service Ministry was followed in February, 1886, by that of Mr. Duncan Gillies, which lasted 1,722 days, and was, next to that of the McCulloch Ministry (1863-68), the inost long lived of Victorian Administrations, although both the McCulloch and the Gillies Ministries have been since surpassed by the administration of Sir George Turner. The second Victorian International Exhibition was opened in Melbourne in 1888, and was highly successful. During the same year the number of members of the Legislative Council was increased to forty-eight, and of the Assembly to ninety-five. The boundaries of the electoral districts of the Assembly were altered, and the number of districts increased to eighty-four, so that, with a few exceptions, only one Member should be returned by each constituency. During 1888 Victoria touched its highest point of prosperity, and, judged by the intlow of population, was more attractive to the immigrant from Europe than any other province of Australasia. Population still flowed to the colony during the three following years, but in greatly diminished numbers.

In 1890 there met in Melbourne a conference of delegates from all the provinces to consider the question of Australasian union; it was unanimously agreed that the best interests of the colonies would be promoted by their early union, and the Legislatures of the respective colonies were invited to appoint delegates to a National Convention to report upon a scheme for a Federal Constitution. Agreeably with the resolutions of the Conference, all the provinces appointed delegates to a Convention held in Sydney. The history of this and subsequent Conferences belongs more properly to the history of Australia as a whole than to Victoria, and will be found elsewhere

in these pages.

On the 5th November, 1890, Mr. Duncan Gillies ceased to be Premier, and was succeeded by Mr. James Munro, who in turn gave place, in February, 1892, to Mr. Shiels. One of the earliest acts of the new Covernment was to suspend the Railway Commissioners. The Commissioners were appointed under the Act passed in 1884 to administer the service on business lines, and whatever may have been the contributing causes, their administration was not successful, and the Government considered that the best way to meet the case was to relieve the Commissioners of their functions. The Commissioners' suspension lasted from the 17th March till the 7th June, when these officers resigned. An interim arrangement was made by the Government appointing temporary Commissioners, and subsequently the law was altered to allow of the railway management being vested in one Commissioner.

As in the rest of Australia, the year 1893 was marked by widespread financial disaster in Victoria. The years of inflation, fondly believed to be a permanent condition of prosperity by investors and speculators, had their natural reaction, and when the final crash came, the result

was a condition of panic. The position of Victoria was in most respects worse than that of any other state, the unnatural rise in the value of landed property, the mushroom-like growth of numerous building societies, and the excessive speculation of the land boom period being there more pronounced. The storm, however, bad not burst without some premonitory signals. Between the years 1889 and 1892 there had been failures of several smaller banks and building societies, although the limited sphere of operation did not allow their suspension to be very widely felt. Early in 1893, however, one of the foremost institutions closed, and from this onward the stream of failures went on with monotonous regularity. Strenuous efforts were made by the associated banks to save the situation, and the Government also declared a “moratorium" of fire days from the 1st to the 5th May, to give the banks time to collect their resonrces. But the heavy withdrawals, not only by colonial depositors but also by people in England and Wales, depleted the reserve funds, and the failure of the larger institutions involved the downfall of the smaller building and investment societies. Between April 5th and May 17th, no fewer than twelve banks closed their doors, and of these seven were practically Victorian institutions, two had their head-offices in New South Wales, and three in Queensland. The crisis was the worst ever experienced in Victoria, but it was met by the people of that State with unexampled fortitude. One good effect of this financial dislocation was the sweeping away of many bogus institutions, and the establishment, on a firmer basis, of the banks and societies which had weathered the storm. The rapidity with which many institutions resumed operations was a striking example of the energy and ability with which the situation was met.

In January, 1893, the Shiels Ministry, after being in power for less than a year, was displaced by that of Mr. J. P. Patterson. Attention was given during 1894 to a continuation of the scheme of co-operative village settlements introduced during the previous year for the purpose of coping with the unemployed difficulty, but these settlements met with little more success than those of the parent State. Amongst the few that succeeded in overcoming initial obstacles was one founded by the Presbyterian Church of Victoria. In August Mr. (now Sir George) Turner carried a vote of non-confidence against the Ministry, but the Premier secured a dissolution, and a general election took place. The result left Mr. Patterson in a minority, and Sir George Turner became leader of the new Ministry on the 27th September, 1894. Sir George Turner found the finances of the state in a condition of disorganisation, and the chief care of the Ministry was to overtake the deficiency left by its predecessors and to keep the expenditure within the income; and in this it was successful. In 1893, the year preceding the accession to office of the Turner Ministry, the expenditure exceeded the revenue by £1,030,521 ; in 1894 the deficiency fell to £593,432, and in 1895 to £45,787; in 1896 it amounted to £81,500 ; but in 1897 and 1898 the revenue exceeded the expenditure by £61,285 and £205,796 respectively. The question of finance is, however, dealt with at greater length in its proper place in succeeding pages. Although the effects of the financial crisis were still felt severely, the state exhibited vigorous progress in the domain of agriculture and kindred industries, and the exports of domestic produce in 1895, were the highest since 1891. There was also a revival in the mining industry, and the output of gold, returned at 740,000 oz., was higher than in any of the preceding ten years.

The Earl of Hopetoun left Victoria at the conclusion of his term of office as governor on the 12th July, 1895, Sir John Madden taking up the duties of administration pending the arrival of Lord Brassey, who assumed office on the 25th October. During the year an important advance was made towards the Federal Union of Australia by an agreement of the Premiers to commit the duty of framing a Federal Constitution to a convention of delegates elected by the various provinces. One of the first acts of the Victorian Legislature in 1896 was the passing of an Enabling Bill to give effect to this decision.

The year 1896 was generally one of increasing prosperity, and signs were not wanting everywhere, that the depression of 1893 was fast lifting. The manufacturing industry was making fair progress, and agriculture and dairying were also expanding. The Government, while adhering to its policy of retrenchment, was nevertheless able, by utilising portion of the Savings Banks funds, to institute a sort of Crédit Foncier” system on a limited scale. During the year the control of the railways was removed from political interference by being placed in the hands of an independent Commissioner. Among the more important legislation carried into effect in 1896, were an Income Tax Ac Local Government Act, and an Amendment to the Shops and Factories Act, in the direction of establishing a minimum wagerate--the last-mentioned being adopted on the recommendation of a Commission of Inquiry, with the object of putting an end to the practice of “sweating.".

In the early part of 1897, considerable havoc was wrought in Gippsland by floods and storms, but other portions of the state suffered from a lack of sufficient rainfall, and there was a falling off in pastoral production. Agriculture and dairying still made good progress, but in consequence of the best land for these pursuits having been taken up, there was an exodus of settlers to the other states, and especially to Queensland. This exodus has kept up more or less from year to year. The operation of the minimum wage rate, alluded to above, was at first attended by a certain amount of friction, but in the end the scheme proved advantageous both to employers and employed. In mining, several abandoned gold-fields were taken in hand and worked at a profit, and the Legislature passed two measures with a view to the betterment of mining conditions. A conference of railway experts during the year recommended the adoption of a uniform gauge of 4 feet 8.4 inches, for Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia, but nothing further was done in this direction. It may be mentioned that an

attempt is now being made to meet the difficulty occasioned by the break of gauge from 5 feet 3 inches in Victoria to 4 feet 84 inches in New South Wales by erection of machinery which will lift freight cars from one set of wheels and rails to another without necessitating the removal of their contents.

In Parliament the chief work of the session was the discussion of the Commonwealth Draft Bill and its amendnients, which were subsequently forwarded to the Federal Convention. A general election took place in October, and Sir George Turner was returned to power with a substantial inajority. The close of the year was marked by the most destructive fire in Australian history, an entire block in the heart of Melbourne being almost completely burnt out. The loss to property was estimated at over a million and a half sterling, the insurances aggregating upwards of £750,000.

In January and February, 1898, Gippsland suffered from another destructive visitation, the district on this occasion being swept by bushfires. The fires of the latter month are described as having been almost equal in their devastating effects to those of “Black Thursday,” in 1851, mention of which was made in preceding pages.

Towards the close of the year portions of the state again suffered from forest-fires, but between the two outbreaks serviceablc rains fell and added materially to the wheat yield. In politics the chief interest centred in the question of Federation. At the beginning of the year the Federal Convention held its final sittings in Melbourne and the bill, as drafted, was submitted to the people of the various provinces. The measure was accepted by a large majority in Victoria, the voting being 100,520 in the affirmative and 22,099 in the negative, and considerable disappointment was caused by its rejection in New South Wales. In his budget speech for 1898 the Treasurer showed an excess of revenue over expenditure amounting to £205,796, the most substantial increase since 1892. During the year Lord Brassey visited England on leave, and while there delivered several lectures on various aspects of Australian and Victorian progress, which had the effect of awakening renewed interest in Australia.

Early in 1899, a Conference of Premiers met in Melbourne to discuss the amendments to the Commonwealth Bill proposed by Mr. Reid on behalf of New South Wales. A mutual agreement having been arrived at, another referendum was necessary in all the states, and Victoria again declared in favour of Federation by an overwhelming majority. In December Sir George Turner's ministry was displaced on a no-confidence motion, and was succeeded by one under the leadership of Mr. Allan McLean. The Turner Ministry had held office for the long period of 5 years 70 days, and had ably watched over the interests of Victoria during some of the most troublous times experienced since the granting of responsible government. In April, the death of the Hon. James Service deprived Victoria of one of her ablest and most popular public

men, though at the time of his decease he had long retired from active politics. During the year, Victoria made great progress in the agricultural and pastoral industries, and immense strides were also made in dairying, the export of butter amounting to nearly 1,405,000 lb., or nearly twice the quantity for the preceding year. In common with the other states, Victoria provided contingents to assist the British Army in South Africa, the first detachment of troops being sent away in 1899. The closing days of the year were marked by destructive bush-fires, tbe conflagrations being most extensive in the Beechworth district where immense damage was done to property and live stock. It was not until heavy rains fell that the fires ceased and the settlers were able to set about the restoration of their homesteads. The ministry of Mr. McLean, after holding office for a little over eleven months, was overthrown by a vote of censure, and Sir George Turner again became Premier on the 15th November, 1900. The session was not an extended one, but the Old-age Pensions Act became law, and the preliminary arrangements were made for the establishment of the Commonwealth, in so far as Victoria was concerned. Sir George Turner shortly afterwards accepted office as Treasurer of the first Federal Cabinet. He continued to act as Premier, however, until the 12th February, 1901, when he finally handed over his charge to Mr. (now Sir) A. J. Peacock, who had been Chief Secretary in both the Turner ministries. The despatch of volunteers to the seat of war in South Africa was continued in 1901, and a naval contingent was sent to assist the British forces in the suppression of the Boxer outbreak in China. Lord Brassey's term of office as governor expired in January, and the duties of administration were thereupon assumed by the Lieutenant Governor, Sir John Madden. It was decided that no fresh vice-regal appointment should be made until after the establishment of federation. Both at the beginning and end of the year serious losses were occasioned in the country districts by outbreaks of bush-fires.

On the 5th May, 1901, Their Royal Highnesses, the Prince and Princess of Wales landed in Melbourne, and were accorded a most enthusiastic reception. An account of the proceedings in connection with the opening of the first Federal Parliament will be found in another chapter. Destructive bush-fires again occurred during the year. Several persons lost their lives, and a vast amount of damage to property was occasioned in the country districts, the devastating effects of the outbreaks in some localities being described as equalling those of “Black Thursday.” The ceremony of swearing-in the present Governor, Sir George Sydenham Clarke, took place on the 11th December, 1901.

With 1902 a movement towards state reform was commenced. It was recognised that in consequence of the increased expenditure cast on the state the necessity existed for rigid economy in administration. As a first step towards this end it was considered that the number of parliamentary representatives should be diminished. In order to assist the Premier in this regard the whole of the Ministers, with one

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