Australian-Grown Product Equal to the Best American
Australian Cotton Prospects
Australian-Grown Product Equal to the Best American
(Late Premier South Australia).
AUSTRALIA’S ability to rival the United States as a cottongrowing country is discussed in the current Contemporary by Mr. Vaughan. He mentions the search made in many remote parts of the earth by representatives of the Lancashire spinners for unexploited cotton lands, and then goes on to say:
“The one important part of the Empire which seems to have escaped the vigilant eye of the shrewd Lancashire spinner is Australia. Yet here is a continent which offers a latitude and conditions of climate and soil more like th^t offered by the American cotton zoite than any country in the world. Thp. quality of the cotton grown in Australia is equal in staple to the best American. And cotton grows wild in many parts of the Commonwealth. In February last year The Times publishéd a cable as follows:
“ ‘Mr. Davis Lindsay, the well known explorer, reports that he has discovered large tracts of new agricultural and pastoral land in the Northern Territory previously marked on the maps as desert land. Water, he says, is freely obtainable at comparatively shallow depths. Mr. Lindsay is convinced that cotton can be grown successfully in the newlv-discovered tracts, and says that cotton is now growing there wild over scattered areas, even 200 miles inland, the seeds having been carried by birds and the wind. The cotton-growing industry could, Mr. Lindsay thinks, be successfully run in the district by white labor.’
“Wild cotton is frequently to be met with also in Queensland, and is not unknown in some of the other States. Commercially, cotton has actually been grown in Queensland for many years. Back in 1871 that State exported 2,500,000 pounds of cotton to London, although by 1917-18 the yield had declined to 54,280 pounds. In the peak period of the cotton yield in Australia the farmers did well with cotton at 8 cents a pound, but the fall to 2 cents a pound, and the labor shortage, made them turn their attention to more profitable and less variable crops. So for the time cotton ceased to count amongst Queensland’s agricultural out-
“Since the war, however, and following the appreciation of the value cf the cotton seed for oil-cake, margarine, and other productions, the area under cotton in Queensland has been steadily increasing.
“The cotton belt of Australia embraces an area as extensive as the cotton belt of America. From Charters Towers to Warwick and wes* ward to Charleville is an immense area of country, the greater part of which will grow cotton which for quality and yield is unexcelled anywhere in the world. The tests so far have been widely scattered, but they have none the less been convincing.
“In an overland journey which I took from Sydney to Adelaide, a distance of 850 miles, we passed through Yanko, and along the Lachlan and Murrumbidgee Rivers, and thence across the plains to the Darling and so
on to Adelaide. Here were millions of acres, much of it suited to cotton culture; much of it, of course, too aria for successful cultivation, excepting where irrigation can be applied. The locking of the Murray, which is now being undertaken at a cost, for the whole scheme, of £4,250,000, will add immensely to the irrigated areas of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia. In these irrigated regions cotton grown as a ‘help’ to horticulture will be invaluable, especially in the early years, when the fruit trees are coming to maturity. As to Western Australia and the Northern Territory as potential cotton fields, one must talk not in acres, but in the terms of a Continent.
“The chief enemy of the settler is drought, but the principal habitation of this visitant to Australia is mainly the ‘Never, Never,’ the purely pastoral regions of the Australian Hinterland. In any case, periods of drought need not appal the Australian cotton grower. Ordinarily the areas referred to enjoy a bountiful rainfall which, as in the case of the Southern States of America, comes mainly in the summer months.
“The people of Australia have consistently refused to allow colored races to enter their Continent. Thus, whatever labor is to be made available for the harvests of cotton that Australia ultimately must develop, if it is to supply the world’s needs, must be the produce of well paid white labor.
“Does this present an impasse to the development of cotton growing in Australia? Mr. Jones, (adviser in cotton culture to the Queensland Agricultural Journal), says emphatically jt does not. ‘I am convinced,’ he says, ‘that the white man has no peer in the cotton field, and that it is a crop eminently suited for white activities, and, moreover, a very profitable one.’ Cotton offers a chance to the raw immigrant unequalled by any other crop, for it gives an immediate and profitable re-
“From whence is the available labor to come? The settlement of returned Australian soldiers on the soil offers a first-rate opportunity for the opening up of country lands in Australia to cotton production. The British exservicê man who intends to emigrate is also likely to look to the Commonwealth as an attractive field for building his new home, and here again cotton should not be without its appeal. Immigration from countries like Italy, the government of which encourages its people to go abroad, must spill over, as it were, from America across the Pacific to Australia, and no white labor could be more suited to the semi-tropical cotton belts than labor from Southern Italy. But one thing the cotton grower must reckon with. He will not find any influx of pauper labor tolerated in the great democracy of Australia . At the same time he need not anticipate any serious objection to immigration even on a large scale, provided the country’s natural resources, so long lying dormant in the island continent, are unlocked to the needs of the Empire and the world.”
The story you want is part of the Maclean’s Archives. To access it, log in here or sign up for your free 30-day trial.
Experience anything and everything Maclean's has ever published — over 3,500 issues and 150,000 articles, images and advertisements — since 1905. Browse on your own, or explore our curated collections and timely recommendations.WATCH THIS VIDEO for highlights of everything the Maclean's Archives has to offer.