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3-148 (Text)

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addressee author,male,Sydney Morning Herald,un
Newspaper Article
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Public Written
Newspapers & Broadsides
Clark, 1975
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In the district known as the "Murrumbidgee," (Mr. Cowper once designated our able representative, Mr. Hay, the "representative of gum trees") there are hundreds (we might with truth say thousands) of miles of fencing to be done - not mental "fencing" as practised by town orators but purely physical labour. Those who are unacquainted with the nature of the work can satisfy themselves by a short trip upon the railway from Sydney. It consists of two or three horizontal rails and vertical posts, and they are intended to maintain horned and other cattle in enclosed places; they, in fact, answer the purpose of the "hedges" or "fences," well understood. by every Englishman who has been without "the sound of Bow bells." Now, this fencing is very simple work, but it is hard, yet not harder than any male colonist of ordinary energy and love of independence can accomplish; it does not require the strength of a giant, it is not difficult, but quiet, steady, bush work - and work that must be done by somebody. Talking will not do it. "Vote by ballot" would fail; "universal suffrage" would be in no better position, - it is peculiarly adapted to the willing heart and ready hand. Upon its accomplishment materially depends the townsman's beefsteak and veal cutlet: for we may except the mutton chop. We do not lose sight of the millions of hides annually sent to England.
Well, the man "who wants work" will be glad to hear that for this labour he can be remunerated, handsomely. Unlike digging for gold, the work is steady, and the returns are sure. The steady workman can earn his £3 per week and his rations. There are men who can earn a great deal more; but as we do not rely upon the bare assertion of this fact we shall go into proof.
We have said that this fencing answers the purpose of the English hedge, or fence, in order to preserve the cattle in their proper boundary. The stations in the interior of Australia require the same protection, as it has for some years past been found next to ruinous to allow the cattle, fat or lean, to stray all over the country, as they will do. Those who are geographically acquainted with the little islands from which the British nation are dictating laws to a large proportion of mankind - those who know nothing of the great interior of Australia would, doubtless, be surprised at the extent of some of those fattening stations. One small run in the district from which I write has a continued line of two-railed fence, measuring upwards of 40 miles - we mean Parracoota, on the Murray! We mention this as one simple proof in order to show those who differ from us politically that we are not taxing their credulity when we say that we are equal to the times, and that we can absorb all the surplus labour of which the people of the capitals in these colonies say they have such an abundance.  We have briefly alluded to the nature of the labour which we require; it is work that no honest man need be afraid or ashamed of; it is work that the very best of our colonists, or at least a large proportion of them, have time after time had to master and follow. We are bold enough to say that there are men, in either honorable House oh Parliament , who have done this work, and we are assured that they would rather do it again than follow the course of action which the own agitators are adopting in their attempts to undermine the best interests of the country.
Considering the large amount of money which the fencing in of the settlers' "runs" will consume, this very fact should well weigh with any Government in passing a measure of reform, or what we call revolution, affecting the interests of this class. The cost per mile of this work varies from £60 to £100 - perhaps 5s. per rod, of 16.5 feet, is about the medium price for a strong two-rail fence, and a couple of "mates", handy men, need not overwork themselves to get through a mile in six or seven weeks. The settlers regard it as indispensable that the work should be done speedily, as in some seasons they lose 20 or 30 per cent. of stock which they have brought from a distant part of Australia. We know of cases in which the loss has amounted to 50 per cent. In order to keep pace with the times, the settlers in this great district are enclosing at their own expense, the ground which they rent from the Crown, never asking the "Government aid," or looking for support from any quarter, relying on the prosperity of the colony, and anticipating the public wants; despising political scheming, they are seeking safety in that rare combination of mental energy and physical toil not found excelled in any class of their Anglo-Saxon countrymen in any part of the world. The settler lays out those thousands of pounds upon the strength of British honour and justice. He relies upon his due share of power in the legislature of the country. This is his sheet anchor; deprive him of it and you cut the ground from under him: destroy his political faith and how long can we expect him to devote his life to the development of the resources of the wilderness, hidden, as are those resources, until the early elements of civilisation are called into action? The district from which I now write was fast emerging from its primeval state, and but fifteen years have elapsed since the white men first settled there: there is not in this broad colony a more promising locality, because the settlers are men of industry and prudence - men who have never looked for help to any State Jupiter, but have relied upon themselves. Yet Mr. Cowper and his party are attempting to sap the foundation of this prosperity, by destroying our political power, and thus pinioning our arms. When he has once succeeded in passing his Electoral Bill - when he has given the "loafer," "the showbanker," the billiard sharper, the gambler (who lives on the ruin of his victims), the petty larcenist, et id genus omne, the same political power (with greater facility for using it) as the most energetic settler in the interior, who works hard and lives hard, where is the justice? 
And now we are about to supplement (to use a Parliamentary phrase) our schedule of work to be done by asking a question which will go far towards explaining away a great anomaly. What is the reason that steam power is called in to do the work in the Australian bush, while there are hundreds out of employ in the city of Sydney? Yet so it is! Large contracts are being undertaken for performing the fencing-work, by Captain Francis Cadell, by means of the steam-engine. Steam is to saw the posts and rails, dig the holes for the posts, and it is likely to ram them down. Another steam-engine is hard at work at Deniliquin, sawing timber, which might be done by manual strength now idle in Sydney. Let us remember, this sawing, splitting, and fencing is not skilled labour. It may be acquired in a week or two by any person desirous of learning. There must be something wrong while matters are in this anomalous state. The city of Sydney is the seat of our Government de jure, de facto we belong (and have long belonged) to Melbourne; pressed into the change, we soon intend to belong to ourselves, for we cannot submit to our political power being annihilated for the benefit of a few disaffected persons, less enterprising than ourselves - ever craving for change, in the hope that the ruin of others may bring about for the clamorous some change for the better.
If we resisted all change, if we exercised a monopoly of the whole of the interior; if we refused to pay our fair quota of the taxes of the country; if we enjoyed any special protection in our calling; if meat were dear or inferior in quality; if we could not grow sufficient animal food for the whole of the population, town and country; if the whole of the work were done as far as the interior is taken up, and we could not absorb the labour as it came into the country; were these charges brought home to us, then there would be some reason for the change proposed by the new Electoral Bill, but when we are compelled to call steam to our aid because we cannot get manual labour to do the work (and here be it observed that the price for the steam work is higher than if done by hand), then we call upon the party in power to shew cause why our rights are to be subverted ; - why we are to be put hors de combat in the political struggle? - why the interests of the interior are to be trodden under foot to suit the convenience of the noisy brawlers in the metropolitan meetings? - why these men are to possess greater political power than the hard-working colonists who hitherto have been the very strength of the country, and who would stand by it in the hour of peril.
We have unaffected sympathy for many in Sydney unemployed, and, perhaps, unfed. We regard, with profound sorrow, such an anomalous state of things, while there is so much to be done in the interior, but the fault rests not with us. The line in the Irish Emigrant song is correct. 
"They say there's work and bread for all."
.And there is; who says to the contrary affirms that which is untrue. The anomaly, therefore, must be explained by other parties. Political dogmas, enforced by strength of numbers, will not do it. The key to the colonists' success is honest industry. Some may have a shorter cut to fortune, but this path has serious obstructions in pursuing it; many will get crippled. At all events, it is the first time in the history of our colonial affairs, that it is proposed to fill the Englishman's stomach with "Manhood Suffrage." We fear that the diet will require to be changed often; fed upon such dainties the stomach will soon "rebel." We here should be sorry to try it; we find a plenty to do, and a plenty to eat, and we therefore are anxious to know "who wants work?"