Workmen's combinations—Fear of
strikes retards industry—Condition of the Australian workmen—Swagsmen and
Loafers— Friendly Benefit Societies—Rules, working, and objects—The club
doctor—Abuses in the system—Accident Assurance—Comparison—Life Assurance—The
Mutual Provident Society—The Mutual Life Association—Insurance
agents—Insurance returns— Australian prosperity—Building Societies—Workmen's
One characteristic feature of
the social economy of our Australian Cousins is the system of mutual
assurance, which so largely prevails in all the towns, and which, under the
guise of friendly benefit societies, supplies all the real benefits of the
poor-law system at home, without its cumbrous and expensive machinery.
These societies are
principally organized and supported by the working classes. Their numbers
and opulence (in many cases) afford a very pleasing and practical refutation
of the theory of the anti-immigrationist, that the country is over-stocked
with labour,, and that the working man is ground into the dust. Such views
are altogether one-sided and distorted. Wages rule high, and for unskilled
labour there is always an active demand. Where, skilled workmen congregate
in masses in the towns, as is the too common tendency, of course there is
apt to be a glutted market. Workmen's combinations, however, in such a
democratic country as Australia, are all-powerful. They do not use their
power wisely. The fear of strikes keeps back many a struggling industry, and
locks up capital. The excessive wages paid to workmen in all constructive
occupations hinders the extension of building operations. Better and more
plentiful houses would be built were labour only cheaper. What the workmen
gain in high wages they lose in high rents, and dear clothes, groceries, and
Nor all this, the Australian
artisan is infinitely better fed, better housed, and better paid than his
brethren in the old country. For handy, active wrights, blacksmiths,
joiners, &c., and willing labourers, there is practically an unlimited field
in the country districts. They will always earn a livelihood, if they will
work. Many come out with the idea that they will get rich all at once. This
is nonsense. A man must patiently plod, and trust to build up a good
connexion, and lay by surplus savings, here as elsewhere; but at the end of
ten years, if the artisan be steady and saving, he will be in a better
position pecuniarily than he would be at the end of twenty years at home.
Education for his children, thanks to our public schools, is everywhere
available," is cheap and excellent. His political status is infinitely
superior to what it would be at home. He has a glorious climate. He need
never want work. Food is fairly cheap and always abundant, and all that is
wanted is pluck, perseverance, and thrifty self-denial.
I have already marked a few
of the rocks and pitfalls which lie in the path. In fact, the working man
here is made perhaps too much of. Many of them cannot stand the sunshine of
prosperity. It makes them altogether too mellow, and they go at the core.
This is true of a great number who swell the ranks of the loafer and
"sun-downer," and drift into an aimless and shiftless life. Such men swarm
in many of the country districts of Australia. Here is an extract from an
employer of labour in the far west of Queensland which is very pertinent to
the point. Referring to a previous article in the Queenslander on the "
Unemployed in the Interior," in which allusion had been made to "common
swagsmen" and the hundreds of men who are travelling our roads in search of
work, the writer, who signs himself "An Outsider," says,—
"Almost all these 'swagsmen'
have, during the last six years or more, been earning wages which, with
ordinary care, would have enabled them to lay by from 10s. to 30s. per week
over and above what would have sufficed to keep them in a style of living
that in almost any other country would be considered luxurious among
workmen; for be it remembered that, besides wages ranging from 15s. (in very
few cases) to 40s. a week, these men have been supplied with ample rations,
and it is only their inexpensive clothing and tobacco (if they smoke) that
they have to pay for, and for these from 5s. to 10s. a week is surely an
ample allowance. That men can (if they choose) save money to the extent I
have mentioned is proved by the fact that many, I may say most of them, do
so for a time, without in the least stinting themselves of such luxuries as
a bush store provides, and a small proportion—perhaps one in twenty—continue
this economy until they become men of independent means. But bccause the
rest of these men choose to invest their savings in poisoning themselves
with villainous liquors, and 'shouting' for their friends, are you, sir, and
I, and the respectable careful workmen, and, in fact, all who have exercised
sufficient economy and self-control to enable them to tide over a pinch like
the present, without being reduced to the last extremity of destitution; are
we, I say, to be taxed to provide work for a host of spendthrifts such as
form a large proportion of' common swagsmens? I can see neither sense nor
justice in it, nor can I comprehend why workmen should be taught that they
are the only class in the community who can ' eat their loaf and have their
loaf,' or that it is the duty of the government (i.e., the community) to
provide them with a fresh loaf when they have eaten their own. I can say
with truth, that I have never turned a man away without assistance when he
has represented himself as needing it; but I confess it is a hard pull to
dole out my hard-earned stores to a lot of able-bodied, sturdy beggars, who
for years past have been earning double the wrages that ever fell to my lot
when I first began life in the bush, or for many a year after. Another
feature in this business is, that many of these men will not take work, when
offered, except at the extravagant rate of wages to which they have been
accustomed, and which employers are no longer able to pay. A man who accepts
your bounty over night will probably receive your proposal to take a small
flock of sheep at 15s. a week and rations with contempt. This actually
happened lately in a case under my own observation. Another man gave up his
work and took the road rather than accept "per week and rations."
The foregoing reflects very
fairly the views of many honest, straightforward employers of labour, who
speak without prejudice, and with no wish to depreciate the real
Were all workmen's
combinations as harmless in their nature and beneficial in their operation
as the friendly benefit societies, there would be less of the mutual
distrust between classes that unfortunately prevails, and a corresponding
incentive given to earnest effort in striving to open out new industries and
develop the resources of the colony. As a sample of what is being done by
these excellent institutions, and to give a rapid sketch of their aims and
character, let me instance Newcastle as a pretty fair sample of the position
of affairs in other towns throughout the colony. I do not profess to give a
detailed statistical account of these societies; that is not the object of
my book. The few facts I record may be interesting to the general reader,
and the trustworthiness of my statements may be depended on, as I have them
from the best procurable authority.
The friendly benefit society
is really a system of mutual assurance against accident and disease, and
from 80 to 90 per cent, of the working classes in and around Newcastle are
so protected. The better known and most popular societies are the Odd
Fellows, Druids, Sons of Temperance, Protestant Alliance, Roman Catholic
Guild, and Working Men's Benefit Societies, Clubs, Lodges, of various kinds.
The majority of these provide for their members medicines, medical
attendance, and an allowance varying from 15s. to 1/. per week during
illness. Most of them, too, have a burial fund, which provides sums ranging
from 5/. to 20/. on the death of each individual of the family of a
subscribing member. The subscriptions vary from ninepence to one shilling
per week, and there is usually an entrance-fee, charged upon a
sliding-scale, according to the age of the individual at the date of his
entrance into the society.
One very excellent club is
that established by the employes on the Great Northern Railway. The
subscription here is one shilling per week. During sickness the allowance
from the fund is 1/. weekly, and any surplus remaining at the end of the
year is rateably distributed amongst the members at Christmas. In this club
no medical attendance is provided.
A very common result of the
system in many clubs is this:—When the percentage of sick, or those who come
on the fund from accident or other causes, gets beyond the calculated
average, as it often does, the weekly allowance is cut down pro rata. In
cases of long-continued illness, the funds in weak societies are sometimes
all swallowed up. Levies have to be made. Members keenly watch each other.'
A deal of espionage goes on. Anonymous letters pour in on the officials. The
doctor is subjected to a deal of galling interference, criticism, and
unasked advice, and everything is not couleur de rose. Malfeasance
occasionally crops up. Runaway treasurers are not unknown; but, in all
fairness be it said, such mishaps are rare, and the benefit societies, as a
rule, are a credit to the working men who get them up and support them. Some
of them, such as the Manchester Unity of Odd Fellows, have immense
Much of the successful
working of these societies doubtless depends on the office-bearers. It is
creditable to the intelligence of our working men, the wonderful
organization and smooth working which generally characterizes the procedure.
Occasionally, as I have said, one may hear of a defaulting secretary, of
malversations and stupid bungling ; but the mutual system gives each one a
stake in the general efficiency, and a very high standard of efficient
economic working is the rule. Sometimes useless sums are squandered on
insignia, in banquets, in misapplied charities, and in other objectionable
ways; but the resultant of the working is an undoubted diminution of
suffering, a fostering of forethought and self-denial, a dissemination of
friendliness and increased social good fellowship, and an alleviation of
much distress and hardship.
The most important factor in
the equation, however, is perhaps not so much the officials as the doctor.
On his tact, temper, aptitude, and practical sagacity everything hinges. It
is true that fines are imposed and punitive measures adopted for an
infraction of the rules by members, and each one watches the other to sefe
that no undue advantage be taken of the funds; yet, after all, the doctor is
the most important item in the sum-total. On his assiduity and loyalty all
the distribution of the benefits of the mutual assurance practically
depends. It is a difficult, a delicate, and often a thankless task. He must
study the idiosyncrasy of each individual member, and reconcile their
particular claims with his duty to the lodge or club, or society, as a
whole. It demands no ordinary diplomacy. He often gets little thanks. He
often encounters downright meanness and ingratitude.
It is optional for members to
go on the medical list, but the majority do go on it. The subscription to
this is 6s. 6d. per quarter, and there is no difference made between a
single man and a married man, who has perhaps his quiver full of olive
branches. Here, at the outset, is one stumbling-block for the doctor. He has
to gi'e attendance and medicine to a man, his wife, and family of perhaps
fifteen or twenty children. The race is very prolific in New South Wales.
This is hard on the doctor.
Per contra, the doctor has
not to supply wines, medical comforts, leeches, or poultices. However, he
has to supply medicines, splints, and surgical instruments. In midwifery
cases, provided fourteen days' notice is given, he is paid a fee of one
guinea. This, it must be confessed, is a cheap immigration system. No
allowance is made for fractures or surgical operations.
In Newcastle all the miners
contribute their weekly sixpence to the doctor's fund, and about 4000Z. is
in this manner paid for medical attendance in Newcastle and the surrounding
mining townships. Without a doubt the benefit society system exercises a
beneficial influence on the working classes. It engenders in them a laudable
forethought and prudent provision for a rainy day. As a system for securing
medical relief during sickness it is far superior to the poor-law system,
where government provides such attendance at public expense, and opens the
way to abuses which are too well known for me to recapitulate here.
In starting the system of
accident assurance here the promoters had all this friendly benefit system
to contend against. As soon as the society was formed, I mean the
Australasian Accident Assurance Association, I had the honour to be
nominated as secretary, a post which I still occupy. We are the only purely
accident association south of the line, and we have had an uphill task so
far to educate the minds of the public into an appreciation of our objects,
aims, and character. The idea was quite new to the majority of the people,
and we were looked on with much suspicion. The general-idea was that it was
some new swindle gfrtjup by Sydney "dodgers."
Existing insurance societies,
from the empyrean heights of their immaculate orthodoxy, looked upon us as a
nondescript sort of corporation. The working men especially eyed us with
grave suspicion. But we worked hard and ploddingly, and at our annual
meeting the other day we were able to show very creditable results indeed.
We issued during this year 1550 policies, taking in premiums over 4000L; and
after meeting all claims, writing off all preliminary and other expenses, we
go on our way with a good progressive business well established, our capital
all available and well invested, and a growing belief in the soundness of
our management and the excellence of our aims becoming more and more general
Comparing our career so far
with, say, the Scottish Accident Company, we have outpaced it completely,
and though we have not as yet touched the working classes much, I look
forward with hope and confidence to a great and prosperous career for the
society. That we have an ample field the following extract from The
Australasian Banking and Insurance Record for January of the present year
(1879) will show:—
"From a table of violent
deaths from 1867-76 it appears that during these ten years 7723 persons
(6225 males and 1498 females) died from accidents. In 1877 accidents caused
the death of 726 persons (553 males and 173 females). Taking into account
the total number who died during these eleven years, we find that of the
males one in every eleven died of an accident. As a practical conclusion, we
think the statistics of violent deaths show that there is abundant scope in
this colony for the operations of an aceident company, the rate of mortality
from accidents being more than double that in the United Kingdom."
The whole question of
insurances is one that tells well in favour of the colonists. Much
thriftlessness and self-indulgence is indeed to be deplored; but it says a
great deal for the internal prosperity of the country that life assurance is
so popular and so universal. It is a very common charge against Australians,
that of extravagant habits and spendthrift propensities. To some extent,
doubtless, it is true, and especially as regards workmen and tlie lower
classes. The bulk of the people undoubtedly spend more freely and indulge in
more luxuries than come within the reach of corresponding classes in more
densely peopled countries. "Where wages are high, hours of labour not
excessive, and the cost of living fairly cheap, it is only natural that
money should be freely spent. The people in the middle ranks, however, have
a keen appreciation of the value of money, and almost every one who can
afford it insures his house, his goods, and his life.
No better instance of the
astounding growth of this kind of business could be given than the rise and
progress of our oldest and best-known office—The Australian Mutual Provident
Society. Its early history reads like a chapter from a novel.
In the beginning of the year
1849 a few philanthropically disposed gentlemen perfected a scheme,
principally with a view to provide deferred annuities for worn-out
clergymen, but generally to embrace the business of life assurance. It reads
like a grim satire on the pomp and circumstance which attend the floating of
public companies now-a-days, to be told that at the inception of the Mutual
Provident Society the office had no capital, paid no salaries to secretary
or directors, and laid the foundation of its present greatness in the upper
story of a grocer's shop, over the door of which hung a gilt coffee-pot,
which served to relieve the monotonous life of the office-boy, who
presumably constituted the entire clerical staff of the office. With a
secretary and directors whose disinterested self-denial constituted their
only claim to any acquaintance with the doctrines of life-contingencies, and
with a constituency altogether ignorant and somewhat sceptical of the
advantages of the scheme, it is not to be wondered at that the business was
small. In the first year 45 policies were issued, assuring 10,100Z., and.
producing a premium income of 361L In the thirtieth year of its existence,
just closed, the new business was 6209 policies assuring 2,175,9421., and
producing a new income of 73,1321. Few more telling tributes to the thrift
and prudence of the middle class "colonials " can be found than the simple
comparison here instituted. True, the business of the office has been pushed
with a persistent and unvarying energy, but no amount of perseverance would
induce people to. embark in a scheme the advantages of which appear so
remote, unless they were impressed with the conviction that they were
discharging a sacred duty. It must not be supposed that the Mutual Provident
Society passed from its humble and unpretentious beginning to its present
colossal development without experiencing many vicissitudes. For many years
it gave but little promise; business came slowly, and the public continued
apathetic. During the first fifteen years of its existence it issued only
4800 policies, considerably less than it does now in a single year. But the
care with which its resources had been tended began to bear fruit, and about
1864 the large profits which the office had amassed drew public attention to
the benefits which it offered, and members began to come in at the rate of
from 1000 to 1500 a year. Iii 1868 the present actuary, Mr. M. A. Black,
joined the office, and owing to certain representations made by him a "case
for opinion" was submitted to three of the most eminent English actuaries.
The result of this reference was, that the old system of dividing the
profits was abandoned for a more equitable and intelligent one, and many
illiberal and effete conditions with which the policies had been hitherto
burdened were abolished. New privileges were accorded to members, and the
practice of the office was popularized by the introduction of all the most
liberal conditions which the history of life assurance indicated to be safe
and just. As a result of this new and public-spirited departure from its
traditional path the office has grown in public favour and confidence to an
extent altogether unheard of in the annals of British life assurance. During
each of the last four years it has transacted an amount of new business
exceeding that of any other British office during a similar period, and the
little struggling infant, which thirty years ago was domiciled amid the
spicy odours of a grocery shop, has developed into the lusty manhood of an
institution with successful branches in all the colonies, with upwards of
35,000 policies in force, covering assurances for nearly fourteen millions
sterling, from which it derives an income of 622,0001. The accumulated funds
have reached the sum of 2,600,000Z., and the office has already divided as
cash profits upwards of 900,000Z.
With such an -encouraging
example it might ha^e been expected, in this age of keen competition, that
the Mutual Provident would not be allowed virtually to keep the field to
Until 1869, however, this was
practically the case ; for the English companies did not seem to realize
adequately the opening there undoubtedly existed, and they only did a very
limited business through their agents.
In that year, however,
another Douglas entered the lists. A prospectus was issued by a new
institution styled the "Mutual Life Association of Australia," having a
board of directors composed of well-known and influential citizens.
The distinguishing features
of this office were stated to be indefeasible policies and low rates of
premiums, and these soon recommended themselves to the public, especially
the former, which, though looked upon at the time as rather a bold
innovation, has since been followed more or less fully by all the Australian
The failures in England of
the Albert and European had undoubtedly a depressing effect upon life
assurance here, but ultimately tended to strengthen the claims of local
institutions, as against others whose management was at such a distance as
to be beyond the ken or scrutiny of their constituents at the Antipodes.
Consequently the young association made good progress, and to the 261
members composing it, at end of its first year, it has had a continued
accession of new assurants; until now (July 1879) it numbers over 5000,
holding policies amounting to 1,600,000/. sterling, and producing annual
premiums of 57,000/., while its invested funds are 115,000/. During these
ten years over 50,000/. have been paid for claims by deaths of members.
Until quite recently no other
life office had been started in Sydney; but two new societies, the City
Mutual and Intercolonial, have recently been started, with every prospect of
a successful career. Fire and marine companies may be counted by the dozen.
In Victoria, with
characteristic energy, no less than seven mutual life societies and three
proprietary companies have been for some years in operation, and at least
one half of these, engaging in most eager competition for business, in
pursuit of which several have recently opened business in Sydney, are
bringing life insurance within the reach of all classes. Wonderful, indeed,
is the energy displayed by those indefatigable pioneers of prudence, the
life assurance agents. Accompanied by a doctor, they traverse the length and
breadth of this mighty continent. They penetrate into the most remote
recesses of the interior. They endure privations and fatigues that would
rival the achievements of the early explorers. They outvie even the
proverbially astute and energetic Bagman. Seeing that so large an amount of
money is yearly invested by the public in life assurance, and that the New
South Wales Legislature long ago recognized the importance of the subject by
passing an Act protecting policies from creditors in event of insolvency, it
is strange and regrettable that no such law as the English Life Assurance
Act of 1870 has yet been put upon the Statute-book. Uniform returns are
required from all banks in the colony, and I maintain that they are equally
necessary for life offices, considering the interests involved and the
enormous sums at stake.
It may give a further idea of
the way in which this business is pushed, to acquaint the reader that, from
trustworthy returns, I find the new business done by seven Australian life
offices in 1878 was 11,718/. policies, insuring for 3,704,828/., yielding an
annual premium of 128,319/. The total premiums received during the same year
by the same offices, for new and renewal business was 601,664/.
In the face of such facts as
these, it is absurd to say that the people are starving, that workmen cannot
find a livelihood, that protection to native industries is needed, and that
immigration is swamping the country with paupers, and the working man is
being ground to the dust by poverty and the stagnation of trade.
In the foregoing necessarily
brief resume, I have omitted one most important set of institutions, which
demonstrate, even more forcibly than do the friendly benefit and insurance
societies, the material prosperity of the working man in Australia, and the
immense sums of money which are earned by the wage-getting class. It must
also be taken as a pleasing illustration of a deal of thrift and prudence on
the part of a great number of their class, and considering that it is only
the better amongst them who subscribe to these associations, the luxury and
lavishness which on the whole characterize artisan life in Australia can be
in some degree realized.
These building societies are
now flourishing in nearly every Australian town of any importance. They are
excellently and economically administered. They are in fact, to a certain
extent savings-banks. They take deposits from subscribers every month or
fortnight, . make advances on mortgage to such as want to build and become
owners of their homes, and they doubtless are in great part answerable for
the small dwellings and deleterious subdivision of land around our great
metropolis and other large towns. Some idea of the magnitude of their
operations may be formed from the annual receipts of one society alone in
Sydney. Let me take, for instance, the "Industrial and Provident Permanent
Benefit, Building, Land, and Investment Society, and Bank for Savings." The
title alone gives some clue to the operations embraced. Now this society, in
1878, took in a grand total of receipts 275,957More than half of this
represents actual savings of the wage-earning classes. This is only one
society, certainly one of the largest, but I know of at least nine others in
Sydney alone, all of which are doing a large and increasing business. Look
this one fact fairly in the face. Reflect on its significance, and then
imagine the absurdity of the cry that the working man in Australia is
impoverished and destitute.
Let those interested at home,
working men for instance, earning perhaps, in good times, from thirty to
forty shillings a week, form their own conclusions from the published rates
of wages which I append below. Such facts and figures are worth more than
argument, and are incontrovertible.
(From the Sydney Morning
Herald of August 4th, 1879.)
"The following are the prices
paid for labour in some of the principal trades of the colony. In compiling
the list regard has been had, in setting down the minimum and maximum, to
the circumstance that the earnings of some men of more than average
competency are something in excess of the maximum, and that others taking up
certain classes of work for which they are not specially fitted, earn less
than the minimum. In each of those cases the earnings are exceptional, and
it has been ascertained that the rates given below are those paid as a
on newspapers, 1s. to 1s.1Id. per 1000; bookwork, 1s. per 1000; jobbing, 21.
10s. to 31, per week.
"Building Trades.—All labour
is paid by the day of eight hours. Carpenters, 9s. to 11s.; stonemasons,
10s. to 11s.; stonemasons' labourers, 7s. to 8s.; plasterers, 11s. to 12s.;
plasterers' labourers, 7s. to 9s.; bricklayers, 10s. to 12s.; bricklayers'
labourers, 7s. to 9s.; painters, 9s. to 10s.; joiners, 10s. to 11s.;
plumbers, 8s. to 10s.; gasfitters, 10s.; sawmill hands, 9d. to 1s.
Notwithstanding that the demand for labour in this department of industry
has increased, the supply has more than kept pace with it, and is more than
ample at the present time. In the plumbing, gasfitting, and brass-finishing
branches business has been only moderate during the past month, usually the
"Iron Trades.—The following
rates are paid by the hour, the men working eight hours a-day, with two
breaks in summer and one in winter. Ironturners, 1s. to 1s. 11d.;
engine-fitters, 11d. to 1s. 4d.; shipsmiths, 1s. to 1s.; blacksmiths, 1s. to
1s. 4d.; blacksmiths' strikers, 8d. to 9½d.; ironmoulders, 1s. to 1s. 3d.;
pattern-makers, 1s. to 1s. 3d.; boilermakers, 1s. to 1s. 4d.; boilermakers'
assistants, 8d. to 9d.; general labourers in ironworks, 9d. to 10d.;
engine-drivers, 9½d. to 10d.; furnacemen, 10d. to 1s. 1d.; dressers, 8½d. to
11d.; machinemen in fitting shop, 10d. to 1s. 2d. Country blacksmiths
receive from 75l to 80l, per annum, with rations or board.
"Brass and Copper Trades.—At
per hour, the men working eight hours a day, with two breaks in summer and
one in winter. Brass-finishers, 11d. to 1s. 3d.; brass moulders, 1s. 2d. to
1s. 3d.; coppersmiths, 1s. 1d. to 1s. 3d. The supply of labour in these
trades is fully equal to the demand, and the market is slightly overstocked.
"Brickmakers, 1s. 0d.
to 1s. 5s. per thousand; pipemakers, 21. 10s. per week; potters, 21. 10s.
"Carriage and waggon
builders, 1s. to 1s. 3d. per hour; carriage painters, 10d, to 1s. 3d. ditto
; wheelwrights (country), 31. 10s. per week.
"Shipwrights, 9s. to 12s. a
day of eight hours; sawyers in mill, 9d. to 1s. 3d. per hour.
"Tailors (paid by the piece)
can earn about 21. 10s. to 31 10s. per week; thoroughly efficient and
skilled workmen can earn as much as 41., and in some establishments 41.
10s.; shoemakers earn on an average from 11. 15s. to 21, 10s. per week;
sadlers, 27. to 21. 10s. per week; exceptionally good hands, 3?. per week.
"Tinsmiths, who work by the
piece and by the day, and, in different establishments, from eight to ten
hours, can earn from 21. 2s. to 31. 3s. per week.
"Coopers.—Those who work by
the day are paid at the rate of from 5s. to 10s. per day. By the piece the
rate is as follows:—For wine casks, 11. 2s. 6d. per tun; oil casks, 11.
ditto ; tierces, 3s. each .for old, 3s. 6d. for new; hogsheads, 6s. ditto;
ten-gallon kegs, 2s. 9d. ditto; five-gallon ditto, 2s. to 2s. 3d. ditto;
two-gallon ditto, 1s. 6d. ditto; tallow casks, 16s. 6d. to 15s. per tun.
"Domestic Servants.—Cooks in
private houses, 30Z. to 65Z. per annum; cooks in hotels, 451, to 761. ditto;
laundresses, 321. to 451, ditto; house and parlourmaids, 261. to 35?. ditto;
general servants, 260. to 461.; nursemaids, 261. to 351.; grooms and
coachmen, 45?. to 65?.; gardeners, 52?. to 65?. Thoroughly competent women
servants are scarce, and hardly to be obtained even at higher prices than
rations or board: Married couples, 601, to 761. per annum ; farm labourers,
30?. to 45?. ditto; bullock drivers, 401. to 52?. ditto; horse-team drivers,
40?. to 65?. ditto; boundary riders, 401. to. 521, ditto; stockmen, 40?. to
761. ditto ; shepherds, 35?. to 401, ditto; roadmakers, 521, to 65?. ditto ;
gardeners, 401, to 52?. ditto; useful boys, 16?. to 30?. ditto.
"Lumpers and Wharf Labourers.—Day
work for handling general cargo, 1s. per hour; ditto for handling coal, 1s.
3d. per hour; night work, 1s. 6d.
by hour, 8½d.; by week of 58 hours, 21. 1s. 1d.; skilled labourers, 7s. to
8s. per day; carters (finding horse and cart), Is. 2d. per hour.
"The demand for domestic
servants of the better class is still maintained, and female domestic
servants of the ordinary class readily meet with engagement. In the metal
trades—iron and brass founding and fitting —the labour available is somewhat
in excess of present requirements. A considerable influx of hands in the
building trades within the past two months, although it has not yet had the
effect of lowering the wage-rates, has brought more labour into the market
than can be fully employed. A temporary depression in most trades usual at
this period of the year has led to the disengagement of a considerable
number of hands, but there are reasons justifying the expectation of a
revival of business in the approaching spring."