Thursday 31st July, 1894
Harry White of Sydney Morning Herald
35 George Street, Sydney, 2000
I would like to write to you in regard to Peter Robinson’s article on Wednesday 30th July, on why Australia should not become a federated country. While I respect that he has his own opinions, I do not believe his reasoning is just. Patriotic feelings, “poor sods”, disadvantages and in my belief, the most unjust reasoning, personal disadvantage. If Australia was a federated country then each colony would not need to worry about personal disadvantage. Border safety, immigration, transport, communication and economic stability will all be addressed once we have federated. We will work as a nation, not as separate colonies. We will be common, not foreigners! Federation will provide us with the opportunity that we have been waiting for.
With our neighbours Papua New Guinea recently invaded by the Germans, a mere 10 years ago, we should be discussing the topic of defence as a nation, not as individual colonies with puny defence systems. If we continue as six individual colonies on one piece of land, how much of a chance do we stand against massive unified nations coming to invade? Federation presents us with the opportunity to tighten our defence systems. Instead of the one or two warships that are in possession of each colony, would it not make more intellectual sense to have all the warships united and equally spread out along Australia’s targeted coast? While we have a military unit in every town, the assessment carried out by British Army’s Major General Sir J. Bevan Edwards, stated that, “the colonies did not possess enough men, arms or even ammunition to provide adequate defence.” United defence would provide enough men, enough arms, enough ammunition and enough defence for Australia.
In spite of the defence issues, there are ridiculous issues with transport and trade. When the train tracks were being constructed, we did not discuss any consequential issues. As a result, Victoria has a gauge (rail track width) of 1.6 metres, while in New South Wales it is 1.43 metres and in Queensland, 1.07 metres. These gauge differences mean that trade and people being transported from one colony to another have a long delaying period in unloading the goods from one colonies train to another colony’s train. If the goods were meant for a colony three borders away, how much time are we wasting? A federated country would allow for one set gauge, meaning faster services and transport. Another issue is tax; all colonies have different rates on tax for trade. “The New South Wales government was particularly opposed to tariffs. It believed in free trade as the best philosophy for the most efficient use of scarce resources.” Is it fair that some are paying taxes, higher than others, while others are not even paying taxes? With a federated country, we would have equal taxes.
Peter Robinson also states that, “a federal government would have relaxed immigration laws.” In contrast to that, I would like to say that two heads are better than one, and six colonies are better than one. Would you not agree? Currently, all six colonies have implicated their own set of laws, but they are all flawed around