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Progress of New South Wales, by J. A. Coghlan, Esq. Government Statistician.

IN the year 1840 New South Wales had within its present boundaries a population of 113,200; included in this number were 18,200 persons who, though then free, had been originally transported from the United Kingdom for criminal offences, and 24,500 convicts who were still in a state of servitude. Deducting the number last mentioned, the effective population of the colony may be set down at 89,000, while 50 years later, at the census of 1891, the number had risen to 1,132,000. Then, as now, the pastures of the country were the chief source of its wealth, but whereas in 1840 the number of sheep depastured was but 4,800,000, the horned cattle 900,000, and the horses 56,000; in 1891 the number of sheep was 60 millions, of cattle 2 millions, and of horses nearly half a million; and the wool clip, which in 1840 did not reach 8 million pounds in weight, may now be set down at 330 million pounds. Less attention has always been paid to agriculture than to pastoral pursuits; still the breadth of land under crop, which in 1840 was 126,000 acres, expanded to 1,120,000 acres during the last season, an increase in area attended by even a more considerable increase in the value of crops yielded. Fifty years ago mining was almost wholly unknown, coal being the only mineral systematically sought for, and the yearly output of this commodity did not exceed 30,000 tons, valued at the same number of pounds sterling; in 1891 the quantity of coal raised was over four million tons, worth 1,740,000l., and the value of the silver, gold, tin, copper, and other minerals obtained was 4,660,000l., making a total value for the year of nearly six and a half millions sterling.

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The progress of the colony is, however, best illustrated by the figures relating to its commerce. Thus for the 5 years which closed with 1840, the average yearly value of the exports was 883,000l., and of the imports 1,712,000l., compared with 25,944,000l. exports, and 25,383,000l. imports for 1891. For the commerce of 1840 there were required 440 ships, with a carrying capacity of 130,000 tons, while in 1891 the ships numbered 3,000, and their tonnage 2,800,000.

The wealth of New South Wales at the date of the census of 1891 was 406 millions sterling, or about 363l. to each inhabitant; these figures are exclusive of the value of State property, which, if counted, would probably add 150 millions to the sum just quoted. In 1840, excluding the property of the State, which then consisted almost entirely of waste lands, the wealth of the colony was barely 20 millions, or 200l. per inhabitant. Whatever may be the experience of other countries, in New South Wales, though the rich have grown richer, as the foregoing figures show, the poor have not grown poorer; on the contrary, the condition of the ordinary mechanic and labourer has improved with the increase in the total wealth of the community. Thus, if the money wages of skilled labourers in the year 1840 be represented by the number 100, their wages today would be at least 125, while with other labourers the increase has been even still greater. Nor is this all, for wages and prices have moved in opposite directions, and articles of consumption are generally cheaper today than fifty years ago. Coincident with the great advance in material wealth, there has been a noteworthy improvement in the social condition of the people. The facilities for education have been so extended that practically the whole population of school age, that is from 6 to 14 years, is receiving education; while in 1840 only 8,500 children out of a school population of 14,000 were under instruction. In regard to crime a great improvement would naturally be expected during the interval which has elapsed since the cessation of transportation; nevertheless, the change that has taken place is remarkable. Fifty years ago the average number of persons convicted for serious offences was about

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800 during a year, while for the past five years the number has scarcely exceeded 900, notwithstanding a tenfold increase in population.

The progress of the colony may be said to be reflected in that of its chief city. Sydney, which stands unsurpassed amongst the cities of the world for the beauty of its site and its natural commercial advantages, had, in the year 1840, a population of less than thirty thousand, which in 1891 had risen to within a few hundreds of 400,000, while the value of the buildings and other improvements rose since 1843, the year after the incorporation of the city, from 730,500l. to 103,704,000l., and the return from rents from 58,440l. to 5,414,000l., so that, gauged by the return from property, Sydney is, after London, and perhaps Melbourne, the wealthiest city of the Empire.

1840  1891 
Population of the Colony ....  113,200  1,132,000 
Population of Sydney ....  30,000  400,000 
Wealth of the Colony in private hands . £  20,000,000  406,000,000 
Value of Imports (average of five years, 1836–40) ...... £  1,712,000  25,383,000 
Value of Exports (average of five years, 1836–40) ...... £  883,000  25,944,000 
Tonnage entered and cleared ...  264,900  5,694,000 
Wool Exported, weight .... lbs.  7,669,000  330,000,000 
Wool Exported, value .... £  498,000  11,000,000 
Number of Sheep .....  4,800,000  60,000,000 
Number of Horned Cattle ...  900,000  2,000,000 
Number of Horses .....  56,000  460,000 
Area under cultivation .... Acres  126,000  1,120,000 
Scholars enrolled .....  8,500  220,000