New South Wales

New South Wales
a state in SE Australia. 5,126,217; 309,433 sq. mi. (801,430 sq. km). Cap.: Sydney.

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State (pop., 2001: 6,609,304), southeastern Australia.

Bounded by Queensland, the Pacific Ocean, Victoria, and South Australia, it has an area of 309,130 sq mi (800,640 sq km); the capital is Sydney. The dominant geographic feature is the Great Dividing Range. Inhabited from prehistoric times, New South Wales was claimed for Britain by Capt. James Cook in 1770. The colony included the entire continent except for Western Australia. The interior was explored throughout the 19th century and colonies were set up there, separate from New South Wales. In 1901 it became part of the Commonwealth of Australia. The state ceded the area of the Australian Capital Territory in 1911. New South Wales is the centre of commercial farming, industry, and culture in Australia.

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New South Wales, flag of  state of southeastern Australia, occupying both coastal mountains and interior tablelands. It is bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the east and the states of Victoria to the south, South Australia to the west, and Queensland to the north. The capital is Sydney, the nation's largest city.

      The scene of the first British settlement in Australia in 1788, New South Wales is the most economically stable and, after Victoria, the most industrialized Australian state. Originally the name New South Wales was applied to all Australian territory east of the 135th meridian of east longitude. The colonies of Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria, and Queensland were successively carved out of its territory in the 19th century. The Australian Capital Territory at Canberra and Jervis Bay is administered by the Commonwealth government even though it is surrounded by New South Wales. Although it is by no means the largest Australian state in area, New South Wales is the most populous, and in its variety it constitutes a microcosm of Australia as a whole.

      New South Wales reflects the problems of a semiperipheral nation adjusting to changes in the world economy. Its manufacturing base has been devastated by cheaper and better products from overseas, and its rural industries face major world oversupply and declining prices. Unemployment is high but is often lower than in some other states. Rapidly expanding international tourism is seen as a major hope for development. While most of the population lives in the cities, there is widespread concern about the degradation of the land resources of the state. The state government's powers are increasingly limited by Commonwealth government control of the collection and expenditure of public moneys. Area 309,500 square miles (801,600 square km). Pop. (1996) 6,038,696; (2001) 6,371,745; (2005 est.) 6,769,604.

Physical and human geography

The land
 A narrow coastal strip of fertile river valleys, plains, and granite outcrops is bounded on the west by steep gorges and ascents leading up to the tableland, a series of plateaus stretching from the New England Range in the north, the central and southern tablelands, and the Monaro plateau in the south. To the west of Monaro lies the Kosciusko massif, rising to 7,310 feet (2,228 metres) in Mount Kosciusko (Kosciusko, Mount), the highest mountain in Australia. The general altitude of the tableland is 2,500 feet, high enough to provide severe winters and snow. Except in the south, the descent to the inland slopes is gentle, providing a zone of undulating land intersected by rivers having their origins in the tablelands, where gold was found. In the west are the semiarid plains, composed of colluvial material, with bedrock exposed in some areas, as in the Barrier Ranges. The far northwest of the state includes the outer sand dunes of the Simpson Desert, and there is much sandy mallee country in the south that is very marginal for agricultural activity.

      The coastal rivers carry vast quantities of water to the ocean, supplied by the coastal region's abundant rainfall. The rivers' economic value lies in the fertile alluvial plains they have created. Unusual for Australia, the coast consists mainly of sandy beaches fed by these rivers, such as the Hunter, Clarence, and Shoalhaven.

 The major rivers of the interior flow west from the Great Dividing Range, including the Namoi, Gwydir, Macquarie, Lachlan, and Murrumbidgee rivers, crossing some 500 miles of slopes and plains before joining the Murray (Murray River) and Darling rivers (Darling River), which join at the town of Wentworth to flow to the Southern Ocean in South Australia. The Murray is also fed by winter rain from the tablelands, and is augmented in spring by snowmelt. The Darling rises in Queensland and is fed by summer monsoonal rains, thus having a different regime. Much water is lost by evaporation, but irrigation inland is made possible by these rivers.

      The early settlers found the alluvial soils to be the most productive, but the red-brown soils of the slopes and Riverina and the black soils of the northern river plains also are exceptionally fertile. As a result of bare monocropping of wheat, overgrazing, and the clearing of trees and natural vegetation, more than three-quarters of the soils in New South Wales suffer from degradation and gullying. Salinization is a major problem in the Murray-Darling basin owing to irrigation and the unwise removal of trees. The fertility of western soils cannot be fully exploited because of low rainfall and intense evapotranspiration.

      New South Wales has a generally mild climate. The seasons are well-defined in the south, with a hot summer and cooler winter, set off by a pronounced spring and autumn. Autumn begins in March, winter in June, spring in September, and summer in December. Seasonal variation is less apparent in the north, where summers are hot and wet and winters cooler and drier. Early house-types were designed to make warm-climate living easier, but these have given way to imported and unsuitable types of building.

      About 12 percent of the state receives less than 10 inches (250 millimetres) of rainfall a year, the westerly limit of wheat growing. About 22 percent receives between 10 and 15 inches. The coastal districts have the most annual rainfall, varying from 35 inches in the south to 60 or more inches in the north. Precipitation is highest with the orographic effect of the rise to the tablelands but generally declines westward. The Western Division, which consists of semiarid western plains, is recognized as an area of marked rainfall deficiency, and attempts have been made to rationalize land use there to minimize damage to the fragile environment.

      Drought and flood are the ever-present natural disasters with which Australians live. Droughts seem to be related to the El Niño effect in Pacific Ocean waters (see ocean: El Niño/Southern Oscillation and climatic change (ocean)).

      The dry climate and abundant sunshine present problems for the agriculturalist, but they make delightful living for those in the cities. It is rarely too hot in summer, though the north coast can be uncomfortably humid, and Sydney is without sunshine for an average of only 23 days a year. Inland it is both hotter in summer and colder in winter. Average temperatures range from about 75° to 84° F (24° to 29° C) in summer and from about 45° to 59° F (7° to 15° C) in winter. Temperatures over 100° F (38° C) are not uncommon in the summer months, and frost at night is common in winter on the tablelands and southern slopes. In the Snowy Mountains (Kosciusko massif), heavy snow falls over an area larger than the Swiss Alps.

Plant and animal life
      Except on the north coast, where remnants of subtropical rain forest survive, the vegetation is mainly xerophytic (adapted to frequent droughts). Clearing of the original forest (deforestation) that once covered most of the eastern third of New South Wales has gone on apace, and only 10 percent of the state is still in forest. Environmental groups struggle to protect this remnant. Dominant species are evergreen eucalypts (more than 600 species) and acacias. These take the form of scrub on the plains, where mulga, a species of acacia, is a valuable fodder tree. Here too is much damaged saltbush, and inedible spinifex grass grows in the northwest. Eucalypts are hardwoods suitable for chipping and construction, and there are only limited supplies of softwoods such as cedar and hoop pine; so Australia relies on imports of much timber.

      The rich birdlife includes many species of parrot and cockatoo, the flightless emu, the mound-building scrub birds, and mallee fowl. Lyrebirds are common in the coastal forests. Marsupials include the koala, the wombat, the kangaroo and wallaby, the common and ring-tailed possums, the bandicoots, and many others. Kangaroos and wallabies are plentiful, but most species are under threat from environmental change. The platypus may be common in out-of-the-way places, and the echidna, or spiny anteater, also survives, even in urban areas. Several species of poisonous snakes abound, including black, brown, and tiger snakes and the death adder; but they are not aggressive, and loss of human life to snakebite is rare. There are also two poisonous spiders, the red-back and the funnel-web. The best-known fish is the Murray cod, found in the western rivers. Yabbies (crayfish) and shellfish were an important part of the Aboriginal diet.

      Subsisting on native animal and vegetable foods, Aborigines were able to live off the land with relatively little work. The environmental destruction that the European population has wrought on New South Wales is enormous, and it is only now being recognized and to some extent remedied.

Settlement patterns
      Some three-fourths of the state's population is crowded into 2 percent of its area—namely, into Sydney, Newcastle, and Wollongong, its three largest urban centres. During the 1980s there was a movement of retirees and dropouts to the northern coastal areas.

      Outside the cities the population is sparsely distributed. There are many country service towns, few of which exceed 20,000 in population. There are many small coastal resorts.

      Farmers live on their farms, which range in size from 200 acres (80 hectares) in the coastal dairy and sugar belt to 5,000 acres in the “fat-lamb” country of the tablelands and in the wheat-sheep areas of the slopes. Beyond lie the vast leaseholds of the Western Division, where tracts of 100,000 acres are not uncommon.

The people
Population composition
      The people of New South Wales represent the population of Australia as a whole—there are no major cultural or linguistic differences between the states. Nearly two-thirds are of British extraction, but since 1947 there has been a major influx of immigrants, first from Britain, then from The Netherlands, Italy, Germany, the Balkan region, and Turkey. Most recently there have been large numbers of Chinese and Vietnamese.

      Many immigrants have prospered, and there is no ghettoization, though there are recognizable national concentrations in Sydney. Aborigines make up less than 2 percent of the population. They have made claims for return of some of their tribal lands. Racial tension is low, apart from discrimination against Aborigines.

      Almost the entire population professing a religion is Christian, though the number professing no religion rises at each census. The largest active denominations are the Roman Catholic church and the Anglican Church of Australia. The Uniting Church, formed by congregations of Presbyterians, Methodists, and Congregationalists, also has a large adherence. An interesting feature of immigration is the building of mosques and Hindu temples.

Demographic trends
      The birth rate and death rate and other vital statistics do not vary substantially from those of the rest of Australia. An aging population is forecast for the late 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century, with only immigration preventing actual decline as birth rates continue to fall. New South Wales is losing population to Queensland, in the face of rising land prices in New South Wales and retirement opportunities in Queensland.

The economy
      Economically New South Wales is the most important state in Australia, with about a third of the country's sheep, a fifth of its cattle, and a third of its small number of pigs. It produces a large share of Australia's grain, including wheat, corn (maize), and sorghum, and most of its silver, lead, and zinc. The state's share of dairy production has greatly declined in the face of more efficient Victorian production, and its share of coal production has fallen with the rise of Queensland exports, though it remains a major producer from new opencut mines in the Hunter River valley. As with the rest of Australia, manufacturing has declined since 1970, with reduced tariffs, a small market, lack of skills, and a floating Australian dollar. Unemployment is high.

      There is a vigorous trade-union movement, and the Chamber of Manufacturers and other associations represent the interests of employers. Both types of organization come into play during annual wage bargaining under an industrial court system that operates both at the state and Commonwealth levels.

      State finances are dominated by the Commonwealth government, which since 1942 has collected all income taxes, the chief source of all public revenue. States are reimbursed according to a fixed formula that favours certain “disadvantaged” states at the expense of New South Wales. Commonwealth control has been increased since the 1970s through the awarding of fixed grants to the states for specified purposes. Chief local sources of state revenue are land and payroll taxes and stamp duties on financial transactions.

      Biological resources include enormous areas of productive soils, though these are much damaged and inhibited in output by low rainfall and periodic drought. Most agricultural land is used for animal production, notably wool. The small remaining area of forest is used principally for chipping, with most of the rain forest now protected. The fishing resources of the New South Wales coast are limited by a narrow continental shelf, but supplies are sufficient for the local market.

      The most important mineral resource is the black coal of the Sydney Basin, which is mined at Wollongong, at Lithgow, and in the Hunter (Hunter River) valley. Many old shaft (underground) mines are closing, and new opencut mines have opened in the Hunter valley and at Ulan. The main silver, lead, and zinc deposits are at Broken Hill, which has only a limited life remaining. There has been a rejuvenation of copper mining near Cobar. Tin is still obtained in small quantities in New England, and sand mining extracts rutile, the basis for titanium, from coastal sand dunes.

      Coal is the main power source. There is, however, some hydroelectric power from the Snowy Mountains Scheme, a major development initiated by interstate cooperation.

      Agriculture is spread throughout the state, except in the western third. About three-fifths of the acreage under crops is sown for wheat for domestic consumption and for a precarious export market threatened by subsidies in other wheat-exporting countries. Other grains include corn, oats, rice, millet, and sorghum. Potatoes, alfalfa (lucerne), grapes, sugarcane, and citrus and pome fruits are also grown. Excellent wine is produced in the Hunter valley, and wine of lower quality in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. Cotton has been rapidly increasing on the Namoi Plains.

      New South Wales is the most important timber-producing state, accounting for about half of Australia's production. This is encouraged by the very low prices set by the State Forestry Commission. Reafforestation, of both eucalypts and pine forests, is now a regular program. There is a major program of replanting trees over much of the cleared inland forests.

      Between 1968–69 and 1987–88 manufacturing employment in New South Wales declined by more than 25 percent. Almost three-fourths of the state's manufacturing industries are located in Sydney, which has borne the brunt of factory closures and unemployment. Newcastle has a steelworks and an aluminum smelter at Tomago, and many power stations are located nearby; they use black coal from the Hunter valley. The shipbuilding industry in Newcastle has virtually halted, and its metal-fabricating plants are in decline. Wollongong also has a steelworks and associated metalworking industries, as well as many high-cost shaft coal mines. Textiles, clothing, and footwear manufacturing have declined owing to cheaper imports. Food, tobacco, and printing have not been affected to the same extent, but paints and chemicals are also in decline.

      The Electricity Commission of New South Wales owns power stations and coal mines. It generates and transmits electricity, which it sells wholesale to county councils and other local government bodies, to certain large industrial consumers, and to railways. Almost all the state's power comes from thermal generation. Less than 5 percent is from hydroelectric power, despite the high cost of the Snowy Mountains Scheme, completed in 1974, which diverts the waters of the Snowy and other rivers westward into the Murrumbidgee River.

      Sydney has become a major financial centre in the Pacific region through its stock exchange and banking institutions. It has overtaken Melbourne as the financial centre of Australia, adding greatly to the prosperity of the city. Employment in finance and communications has grown rapidly.

      The principal public transport facilities are owned and operated by the state government. Much of Sydney is well served by a suburban train service, including an underground railway, but transport services are poor in the vast new suburbs to the west.

      The railways reach many parts of the interior and were built to concentrate traffic in Sydney. The longest line is to Broken Hill. In the 1970s and '80s many miles of rail line were closed down; rail services have been greatly reduced, with buses taking over unprofitable passenger routes.

      There are more than 127,000 miles of public roads, including some 26,000 miles of state and federal highways. The building of this road system across great distances for a sparse population is perhaps the state's greatest achievement, though many roads are narrow and in poor repair.

      There are no commercial waterways except for some tourist boats on the Murray River. There was once an extensive water transport traffic on the Murray, Darling, and Murrumbidgee rivers, which in the early 20th century gave way to rail and road transport.

      The major ports are Sydney (Port Jackson), Botany Bay, Newcastle, and Port Kembla. Sydney's port function has largely moved to Botany Bay, located to the south of the city. Together these four ports handle several million tons of cargo each year. Newcastle and Port Kembla concentrate on raw materials for their steelworks and other industries. There is very little internal trade by sea.

      New South Wales has excellent internal air services. They include regular schedules to all large country towns from Sydney and many schedules between towns. Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport is very congested, and a large reconstruction project or relocation is under consideration. International traffic is concentrated on Sydney.

Administration and social conditions
      The state government in theory administers internal matters, while the national (Commonwealth) government is responsible for defense, foreign policy, immigration, trade, customs and excise, post and telegraph services, and air and sea transport. Within those limitations the state government is said to be sovereign and has powers to make laws for the peace, welfare, and good government of New South Wales. In fact, the Commonwealth government has used its financial powers to limit the powers of the states. Like other states, New South Wales has no armed forces apart from the police.

      The parliament consists of two houses. The lower house, or Legislative Assembly, has 109 members elected from single-member constituencies by optional preferential voting. The upper house, or Legislative Council, has 45 members who are directly elected at large by optional preferential voting and proportional representation. The Cabinet is chosen from the party that commands a majority in the Legislative Assembly. It is headed by a premier. Through the party system there is effective executive rule, which may, however, be frustrated by a failure to control the Legislative Council. Parliament meets for four years, but can be dissolved earlier.

      The governor is the local representative of the British crown and is appointed by the British monarch on the recommendation of the premier. The titular head of the government, the governor is now always an Australian. Although his duties are mostly formal, he may play an important role in a political crisis.

      All elections are conducted on the basis of universal adult suffrage. Every citizen over the age of 18 is required to vote in all elections, including those for local government offices.

      The basic local government areas are urban municipalities and rural shires. Bodies called county councils are organized to coordinate common services such as flood control and electric power supply in districts that comprise a number of local government units.

      Political parties are usually state branches of the federal political parties and tend to have the same policies and interests, though “states' rights” are jealously guarded even among political allies. The three chief parties are the Liberal Party (Liberal Party of Australia) and the National Party, which generally form a coalition, and the Australian Labor Party, which is allied to the trade unions. The much smaller Australian Democrats sit in the upper house and with some Independents are able to reject government bills by joining with the main party in opposition. There is also a small Call to Australia Christian Party in the upper house.

      State law and its administration are generally based on the British system. Legal procedure includes trial by jury in criminal and some civil cases, the right of appeal, and an independent judiciary. The highest state court is the Supreme Court, from which appeals can be made to the High Court of Australia. Minor offenses are dealt with by magistrates in the Local Courts, while more serious cases are brought before a judge and jury in the District Court. There is a juvenile justice system administered by magistrates. Crime has not greatly increased in recent years, but public awareness of it has, leading to a more punitive environment.

      Schooling is compulsory for all children between the ages of 6 and 15, but an increasing number continue to age 18, and many go on to subsequent tertiary education. Most children are educated in free, nondenominational primary and secondary schools. A significant proportion use the alternative Roman Catholic system of schools, however, and many children of wealthy families attend private schools. There are several universities in the state, financed by the Commonwealth. There also are state-run technical colleges.

Health and welfare
      The state government is responsible for the administration of public health, hospitals, and medicine. Health care is nominally free under the Commonwealth government's Medicare program, which is funded by deductions from taxable personal income, but the whole system is in collapse owing to inadequate funding. Those who can afford it patronize private hospitals, which are strongly supported by the medical profession.

      Unemployment benefits and social security pensions to the aged, the disabled, widows, and single parents are paid by the Commonwealth government. Family allowances are paid to parents with dependent children. Despite this support system, poverty is a condition shared by many. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of children live in poverty.

      Wages are set by the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission at the federal level and by the Industrial Commission of New South Wales at the state level. Most people work a 38-hour week. Women are entitled to 52 weeks of unpaid maternity leave without loss of job or seniority. Child care for working mothers is inadequate.

      Probably most younger married women with children now work to meet the rising cost of housing. Australia has few government houses and only a small rental market, so that buying a home is the chief burden for young families. There is a rapidly growing number of retirement homes and nursing homes for the aged.

Cultural life
      The state cannot claim a unique culture that sets it off from the rest of Australia, though in historical terms writers from New South Wales such as Henry Lawson and A.B. (“Banjo”) Paterson have helped to form an Australian identity. Large-scale immigration and the shift to the city has largely undermined the “bush ethos” of early 20th-century Australia, and a more cosmopolitan culture has emerged. Tourism will hasten this process.

      In painting, no new figures have appeared to replace the bush images promulgated by Sir William Dobell and Russell Drysdale, continuing a tradition that goes back to the Victorian Heidelberg School of nationalist Australian landscape painters of the late 19th century. Obsession with landscape is the centre of Australian art, in New South Wales as elsewhere.

      Sydney is a major cultural centre. It is the home of the Australian Opera, housed in Jørn Utzon's magnificent Sydney Opera House. The Sydney Dance Company is innovative, while the Australian Ballet performs regular seasons. There are many theatres and art galleries. Museums include the Australian Museum, which is given over to natural phenomena and ethnography, and the Power House Museum, of great historical value.

      The culture of Sydney is diverse and of great vitality in painting, dance, writing, and music. This has been much influenced by the immigration of the postwar years. Notably, restaurants serve food from many nations. Many luxurious hotels have been built to serve rising tourism.

      The bicentennial of the first white settlement in Australia at Sydney Cove in 1788 reinforced a concern with things past. There is a strong movement for historical preservation, served by the private National Trust of Australia (NSW) and by the state Heritage Council, which has sweeping powers to prevent demolition or alteration of buildings identified as having historical value.

      Similarly, there is a strong movement to conserve the natural environment. The Australian Conservation Foundation and the Wilderness Society are important pressure groups. Conservation frequently conflicts with government and business interests in developing resources.

D.N. Jeans


British (British Empire) settlement
      New South Wales was the first Australian colony (colonialism, Western) to be established by the British. Discovered in 1770 by Captain James Cook (Cook, James), who took possession in the name of King George III, it originally covered the eastern third of Australia from Cape York Peninsula to the tip of Van Diemen's Land (later Tasmania). This vast area covered a variety of landforms and climatic conditions ranging, on the mainland, from the dry interior to the wetter coastal plains. These stretched from the semitropical north to the more temperate south and were separated from the interior by the Great Dividing Range. Inhabited by Aboriginal tribes, the country was still mainly virgin. Centuries earlier, large prehistoric animals had grazed the land, but now there were only small species—the kangaroo, koala, wombat, and the dingo, which had been brought by the Aborigines.

      Gradually after 1788 New South Wales was subdivided. Van Diemen's Land ceased to come under the governor at Sydney in 1825, some 27 years after the explorer George Bass discovered that it was an island. The Port Phillip district, settled in the 1830s by pastoralists from Van Diemen's Land and from farther north on the mainland, formed the nucleus of the colony of Victoria that was separated from New South Wales in 1851, after considerable agitation. Eight years later Queensland was given its own government, which was located at Brisbane, originally the centre of a penal settlement. No further changes were made to New South Wales until 1908, when a portion of territory some 185 miles southwest of Sydney was acquired by the federal government as the site for the national capital, Canberra.

      Although New South Wales was progressively reduced in physical extent, its history in other ways was one of growth. It began in January 1788 as a small settlement of a thousand or so people clustered around the foreshores of Sydney Harbour (Port Jackson), near what is now the city of Sydney. Why the British government should have established a colony in so distant and isolated a site has long occasioned dispute. It was once accepted that the move resulted from the need to find an outlet for convicts, whom the American colonists would no longer accept after their revolt against British rule in 1776. Some historians, while conceding that penal considerations did influence the government, have suggested that more was involved. It is widely recognized that even before the loss of the American colonies Britain had begun to pay attention to the area in which Australia was located. Already possessions had been acquired in India, trade had developed with China, and an interest had been displayed in the Pacific region. Some historians view the settlement of Botany Bay as part of this broader process of imperial expansion. The outpost, it has been claimed, was valued for commercial purposes and as a means of protecting British shipping, particularly from the French, whom the government sought to exclude from this region. It has also been suggested that the presence on Norfolk Island of pine trees suitable for masts and flax needed for canvas provided a further incentive. These and other possible motives have attracted considerable attention, but debate over their significance continues.

      Whatever the merits of the different explanations for the colonization of New South Wales, it remains true that the First Fleet, which arrived under the command of Governor Arthur Phillip in January 1788, brought only convicts and their jailers. For the next 52 years of its existence the colony continued to receive regular consignments of felons. At first they arrived only in a trickle, but, once the Napoleonic Wars were over, larger numbers were dispatched. Historians agree that among the convicts were political offenders whose only offense was to have protested against injustice and misrule. These, however, formed a small part of a group largely composed of men and women who had been found guilty of theft and other offenses against property. All were lawbreakers, but questions have been raised as to whether they can be regarded as criminals. Some historians view the convicts as the innocent victims of a harsh law and an unjust society. Others claim that, in the main, they were less the victims than the enemies of society, and they depict them as ne'er-do-wells who chose crime in preference to other occupations.

      Whatever their background before coming to the colony, however, the convicts made an important contribution to its development, providing a servile labour force that was used by the government but more commonly by private settlers, who were encouraged to employ convicts under the assignment system. After completing their sentences most convicts found work as labourers or tradesmen, but the more enterprising acquired land, established businesses, or, when suitably qualified, entered the professions. They included artists such as Thomas Watling; writers such as Henry Savery, whose Quintus Servinton was the first novel printed in Australia; Francis Greenway, the celebrated architect; the solicitor George Crossley; and Laurence Halloran, who established a well-known school. Others, such as Samuel Terry, who became known as the “Rothschild of Botany Bay,” and the landowner, trader, and manufacturer Simeon Lord, rose to positions of wealth, although the stigma of having been convicts continued to cling to them.

The growth of a free society
      Increasingly, however, the convict element was overshadowed by men and women who had come to the colony as free people. From the earliest days the British government encouraged migrants who, it was hoped, could employ, discipline, and perhaps reform the convicts. Few arrived until after 1815, by which time the activities of John Macarthur and other pastoralists had shown that New South Wales was well suited to the production of meat and especially wool. During the 1820s the pastoral industry attracted men of capital in large numbers. They were joined in the 1830s and '40s by some 120,000 men, women, and children who sought to escape the harsh conditions of industrial England. Their passages were in many cases paid from a fund resulting from the decision of the British government in 1831 to sell crown land in colonies instead of giving it away free. This category of migrant brought skills rather than capital and added greatly to the work force.

      The presence of growing numbers of ex-convicts, migrants, and “currency lads and lasses,” as the local-born were known, helped convert New South Wales from a convict outpost to a free colony. wool was sent to Britain in commercial quantities from 1821, although until 1834 the products of the fisheries, whale oil, and sealskins formed the principal export. Thereafter, wool leaped ahead at a remarkable rate. Wool exports increased from nearly 5 million pounds by weight in 1834 to 14 million in 1850, linking the colony more closely to the English industrial system. Originally valued exclusively as an outlet for convicts, New South Wales was drawn more closely into the British imperial network. It became an outlet for migrants and a market for investment capital and manufactured products, and it replaced Spain and the German states as Britain's source of wool.

      All this gave a boost to development in New South Wales. The bounds of settlement spread outward as pastoralists took their sheep and cattle farther and farther afield. The local government, backed by the authorities in London, sought to impose limits on expansion. But they had no way of enforcing orders, and increasing numbers of stock owners moved outside the limits of settlement. Such people, known as squatters (squatter), struggled to obtain a firm tenure to their land, and in 1847 they won major concessions. By that time most of the eastern mainland was occupied, country towns had sprung up to meet the needs of surrounding districts, and Sydney, the capital city, had been transformed. Originally little more than the headquarters of a jail, it had become a thriving metropolis that was a centre of government and the colony's principal port. Here were located the public offices, mercantile houses, and a limited range of manufactures. The early buildings had been of primitive design and rough construction, but during and after the days of Governor Lachlan Macquarie gracious buildings were erected, some designed by the ex-convict architect Francis Greenway.

      This expansion was at the expense of the Aboriginal (Australian Aborigine) people, of whom, it has been estimated, at least 300,000 were present in New South Wales and Victoria when the first white settlers arrived (some estimates are higher than 1,000,000). The delicate structure of Aboriginal society, which technologically lagged behind that of the whites, could not withstand the incursions of the newcomers. Driven from their lands, ravaged by disease, and killed in large numbers as a result of frontier clashes, the Aborigines declined in number. Those who survived became virtual outcasts in white society or fell back into the interior, beyond the reach of the settlers. Governors were instructed to treat them with humanity and as British subjects. Most attempted to do so and to punish those whites who mistreated the Aborigines. In 1838, following the notorious Myall Creek Massacre, seven whites were hanged at the instance of Governor Sir George Gipps. In general, however, the law itself, as well as the difficulties of enforcing it in outlying districts, favoured the whites. During the 1830s, attempts were made to safeguard the Aborigines by placing them under supervision in protectorates, but these failed and were abandoned after the coming of self-government in the 1850s.

Movement toward self-rule
      The emergence of a free society was accompanied by the growth of opposition to the existing form of government. So long as convicts were sent to New South Wales it was considered necessary for close control to be exercised by those in authority. The naval governors who successively ruled between 1788 and 1808, Arthur Phillip (Phillip, Arthur), John Hunter, Philip Gidley King, and William Bligh (Bligh, William), possessed virtually absolute powers. These they discharged in a responsible manner, for all were dedicated, hard-working administrators. From the time of Phillip's departure in 1792, however, they met opposition from the New South Wales Corps, which had been recruited to perform garrison duty. Its officers were allowed to own land and, contrary to instructions, they also began trading in a number of goods, including liquor. Efforts to check them failed, and they used their influence to undermine the positions of Hunter and King. Governor Bligh, a courageous, energetic, but abrasive and tactless man, already noted for the mutiny on the Bounty, proved more resistant. He clashed with the corps, with other sections of the community, and, more seriously, with the difficult and overbearing John Macarthur (Macarthur, John). A crisis developed that culminated with the overthrow of Bligh in the Rum Rebellion of January 1808. The corps ruled under successive commandants until 1810, when it was recalled, and Lachlan Macquarie (Macquarie, Lachlan) arrived with his own regiment. A Scot of energy and vision, he ruled from 1810 until 1821, restoring order and bringing stability to a colony whose interests he did much to promote. His autocratic ways, however, created problems, and, following an inquiry begun in 1819 by Commissioner J.T. Bigge, a small Legislative Council made up of government officials and nominated colonists was established in 1823. This body and its powers were enlarged in 1828, but responsibility still lay with the governors, who were answerable only to the Colonial Office in far-off London.

      Conflict developed during the 1820s and '30s as pressure for an increased say in government mounted among free colonists. A group called “emancipists” (Emancipist) or “Botany Bay Whigs,” led by the local-born, Cambridge-educated lawyer and pastoralist W.C. Wentwort (Wentworth, W.C.)h, demanded an elected Legislative Council. This was opposed initially by a small but influential conservative faction known as “exclusives” (Exclusive) or “Botany Bay Tories,” that clustered around John Macarthur. In response to demands from the emancipists, British authorities sanctioned the introduction of trial by jury into the civil and criminal courts, but they refused to reform the legislature while convicts were arriving. Representative government was finally introduced in 1842, two years after convict transportation was abolished. The new legislature, composed of 36 members, 24 of whom were elected, had limited powers, however.

      Once convicts ceased to arrive, the old division between emancipist and exclusive faded. The two groups, which were composed mainly of wealthy landowners, came together under Wentworth's leadership. During the 1840s they sought to tighten their hold over the land and the resumption of convict transportation to ease the labour shortage. This brought them into conflict with urban elements who saw the resumption of transportation as a threat to their well-being. Wentworth and his associates, however, predominated among the elected members of the legislature, and they continued to press for reforms designed to secure self-government and guarantee their own supremacy. In 1856, as part of a series of changes affecting most of the Australian colonies, the British government established in New South Wales a new legislature composed of a Legislative Council and a wholly elected Legislative Assembly. Power passed from the governor to whichever political leader from the lower house possessed majority support. Representative government had given way to responsible government, and the premier had replaced the governor as the chief executive officer.

      The new constitution failed to give the landed gentry the protection it sought. After 1856 this conservative group lost ground to the urban middle class, which came to dominate political life. Political parties had not yet emerged, and between the 1860s and the 1880s New South Wales was governed mainly by loose-knit factions whose presence resulted in frequent changes of ministry. Fortunately, both a well-established public service and the broadly common outlook shared by the leading political figures made for stability. Liberalism was the dominant political creed, and there was general agreement as to the desirability of fashioning a society that offered opportunity to as wide a section of the white community as possible. Beginning in 1861 with the land acts for which John Robertson was responsible, attempts were made to reduce the power of the squatters and open up the lands to small settlers, or selectors. Reforms were also introduced in the sphere of education that culminated in Sir Henry Parkes's (Parkes, Sir Henry) 1880 Public Instruction Act. This sought to end the existing dual system under which church and state schools operated side by side. Thereafter it was intended that primary schools would be provided solely by the state, which sought to ensure that all children attended them. The act was opposed by the Roman Catholic church, which objected to the idea of education being controlled by secular authorities. The church continued with its own schools, perpetuating the dual system.

Economic developments
      In the economic sphere, boom conditions prevailed until the late 1880s. The gold rushes of the 1850s brought much less wealth to New South Wales than they did to Victoria, where the goldfields were considerably larger. But after causing some dislocation the gold rushes did add to the well-being of the colony and helped it recover from a depression experienced in the early 1840s. After 1860 capital poured in from England, and the pastoral industry was placed on a new footing. The squatters were largely untroubled by the attempts to dispossess them of their land. They began to build permanent homes in the Outback and effect other improvements on their properties, reducing the need for shepherds and herdsmen by enclosing their land with the new wire fencing. The wool and cattle industries continued to expand, as did wheat farming, which, like pastoralism, was given a boost by the introduction of railway systems after the 1850s. Meat exports became possible in the 1880s after refrigerated transport was invented. All this benefited the large grazier, but the selectors also made their presence felt. The Robertson Land Acts, once wrongly regarded as a failure, did succeed in areas suitable for dairying or intensive cultivation and helped promote these branches of rural industry. Elsewhere, however, selectors often failed or were reduced to poverty. The economic climate thus created helped provide the conditions in which bushrangers could thrive. Such people had been present from the earliest days, but it was in the 1860s and '70s that they came to the fore. Their resistance to authority and to the unpopular squatters helped make them folk heroes.

      Even more marked than the expansion of rural industry was urban growth. Country towns increased in number and size, although those that were bypassed by the railway suffered decline. Sydney, which as always was well placed to tap the wealth of both the interior and the Pacific, expanded to an unprecedented extent. The gold rushes had given Melbourne a great boost, but Sydney remained a centre of great importance. With the coming of the railway and later of the tram, new suburbs were established in the outer districts. Previously workers had been obliged to live close to employment, but increasingly they were able to break this nexus. The urban sprawl that has been so much a feature of city development in New South Wales had already begun.

      The opening years of the last decade of the 19th century were marked by a severe depression that affected most of Australia. In New South Wales financial institutions collapsed, savings were lost, and unemployment was widespread. Industrial disputes, more serious than ever before, broke out, the most noteworthy being the Great Maritime Strike of May to November 1890. The unions involved in the strike were defeated, and this setback contributed to the decision in 1891 to establish a Labor Party (Australian Labor Party). Its presence forced other political groups to organize themselves along party lines and ended the faction system, already undermined by the split between free-traders and protectionists.

      The 1890s were also marked by a heightened sense of national feeling, resulting in part from the fact that the population was by now mainly locally born. Art and literature reflected this impulse, which also played a part in the federation movement. The movement had received a stimulus in 1889 when Henry Parkes, one of the outstanding political leaders in New South Wales, delivered his Tenterfield oration. More than a decade of hard bargaining was necessary before federation was achieved. New South Wales favoured the eventual outcome in two referenda held in 1898 and 1899, although opinion was divided in the community.

      The establishment of a Commonwealth government in 1901 inaugurated a new era in the history of New South Wales. The once-independent colony was now a state that formed part of a wider unit. Important powers were handed over to the federal government, which progressively encroached on the state's domain. Other changes affected the course of the state's development. For most of the 19th century, New South Wales had enjoyed almost continuous progress, broken only by occasional setbacks. The first half of the 20th century, in contrast, was marked by two world wars and a world depression in the 1930s. Besides creating widespread unemployment and precipitating the collapse of businesses and financial institutions, the depression produced a political crisis. The Labor premier, John Thomas Lang (Lang, Jack), who had introduced major reforms since coming to power in 1925, threatened to repudiate payment on overseas debts. He clashed with the Commonwealth government and alarmed wealthy propertied groups, which gave support to a semimilitaristic movement, the New Guard. Tensions mounted, and on March 19, 1932, F.E. De Groot, a member of the New Guard, cut the ribbon opening the Sydney Harbour Bridge before Lang was able to do so. This was a symbolic gesture, but two months later, after Lang forbade government departments to hand over money to the Commonwealth, he was dismissed by the New South Wales governor, Sir Philip Game.

      Despite the disturbances occasioned by war and depression, much was accomplished in New South Wales between 1900 and 1945. Labor held office for the first time under James Sinclair Taylor McGowen in 1910. He was succeeded by William Arthur Holman, who left the party in 1917, after it split over the question of whether conscription for overseas military services should be introduced. The party held office for most of the 1920s, but in the 1930s power passed to a coalition of the United Australia Party (later the Liberal Party (Liberal Party of Australia)) and the Country Party; (National Party) the latter party had been established in 1925 in New South Wales (it was previously called the Progressive Party) to represent the rural interest. The state continued to control public works, law and order, and health and education. Important reforms were introduced, particularly in the field of education. The state system brought into being under Parkes was reformed after 1904 by Peter Board, the celebrated director general of education. He established Sydney Teachers' College in 1905–06 and sought to ensure that teaching and courses were adapted to the needs of children. In 1911 he laid the basis for an improved secondary, or high, school system that was designed to cater to older students. Some of those who attended high school proceeded to the University of Sydney, the oldest in Australia, dating from 1850. It too was expanded after 1900 and became a major centre of learning with an international reputation.

      The educational reforms introduced after 1900 reflected a growing tendency on the part of the government to help its citizens. State intervention had been a feature of New South Wales history from the outset, for, in so large a colony, government alone possessed the resources to provide essential services. The emergence of the Labor Party gave an additional stimulus to this tendency and pushed it in new directions. From the 1890s a welfare state gradually took shape. Old-age pensions were introduced in 1900 and later extended. As the 20th century progressed, further innovations, including a scheme for child endowment that set the lead for Australia, were established. So too was a system for settling industrial disputes by arbitration and conciliation, a workers' compensation scheme, and the 44-hour work week. Yet, as the depression of the 1930s showed, many members of the community were unprotected or poorly safeguarded against threats to their well-being. Indeed, research has revealed that even in earlier periods of supposed plenty, poverty existed in what was thought to be a land of opportunity. Such problems were to continue after World War II, although additional steps were taken to alleviate them.

The postwar period
      World War II and the decades that followed produced major changes in New South Wales. The population expanded from some 2,917,415 in 1945 to some 5,738,500 in 1988. The proportion of residents of British origin fell as increasing numbers of immigrants—initially from Europe, then from South America, the Middle East, and Asia—arrived under schemes implemented by the federal government. Attempts were at first made to assimilate them, but this policy was replaced by one aimed at creating a multicultural society. The presence of immigrants enriched cultural life and produced changes in social customs. This was particularly evident in the cities, the continued growth of which was another feature of the postwar years. Sydney, which had a population of about 1,756,611 in 1945, grew to 3,596,000 by 1988. Important too was the expansion of Newcastle and Wollongong, centres of the iron and steel industry. The increased concentration of population in coastal cities created problems and gave rise to attempts to promote growth in the interior of the state, where some country towns were in decline. Only limited results, however, were achieved.

      Despite some setbacks, the postwar years were ones of economic expansion. The Snowy Mountains HydroElectric Scheme began in 1949; undertaken in conjunction with the federal and Victorian governments, it was outstanding among a number of public works projects that brought improvements to the power supply, roads, railways, and city life. The largest trading state, New South Wales retained a leading position in many spheres of enterprise.

      In the political sphere, power alternated between Labor, which ruled until 1965 and from 1976 to 1988, and the coalition formed by the Country Party and the Liberal Party. After 1942 the Commonwealth alone levied income tax; this limited the state's opportunities to initiate reforms. Increasingly the Commonwealth seized the initiative in spheres such as health and education, and particularly in the university and college sector, which underwent unprecedented expansion after 1957. Nevertheless, the state government did much to diversify and expand the economy and improve facilities and opportunities for a widening segment of the population. Reforms were introduced in the hospital system, while the school system, primary and secondary, was brought into line with new social and educational needs. Legislation, influenced by that introduced overseas and in Canberra, opened new opportunities for women, who since the 1960s had been organizing in protest against prevailing inequalities.

      Attention also was turned toward the Aboriginal people, whose plight aroused national and international concern. Up until World War II it was widely believed that they were a vanishing race and that the object should be to ease the process of their vanishing. Policy was directed first at controlling and protecting the Aborigines and then at assimilating (assimilation) them into white society. The measures adopted, although paternalistic in inspiration, were often unfeelingly administered, and they brought much suffering. After the war attitudes gradually changed, as the Aboriginal people became more conscious of their own individuality and their rights. Support came from overseas, where changes had occurred in the position of black people. Sympathy also developed among segments of the white populace, including university students and teachers. Students joined in the “freedom rides” of 1965, designed to highlight racial discrimination in rural New South Wales. In response to mounting pressure and the example set by the federal government, which after a referendum in 1967 gained power to legislate for the Aboriginal people, reforms were introduced in New South Wales. These culminated in 1983 with an act that established Aboriginal Land Councils and conferred on them the right to hold freehold title to land within their area. Earlier, attempts had been made to improve medical facilities and increase educational opportunities. Much remained to be accomplished, but at least a start had been made toward opening the way for wider sections of the community to share in the future growth of New South Wales.

Brian Hinton Fletcher

Additional Reading
The best source for up-to-date facts and statistics on the state is the New South Wales Year Book (biennial). Physical geography is covered in D.N. Jeans, An Historical Geography of New South Wales (1972); and Ian G. Percival, The Geological Heritage of New South Wales (1985). The capital is treated in Alan Birch and David S. Macmillan (eds.), The Sydney Scene, 1788–1960 (1962, reissued 1982); and Jill Roe (ed.), Twentieth Century Sydney: Studies in Urban & Social History (1980). Historical works include Cedric Flower, Illustrated History of New South Wales (1981); J.B. Hirst, Convict Society and Its Enemies: A History of Early New South Wales (1983); T.M. Perry, Australia's First Frontier: The Spread of Settlement in New South Wales, 1788–1829 (1963); A.C.V. Melbourne, Early Constitutional Development in Australia: New South Wales 1788–1856, Queensland 1859–1922, 2nd ed. (1963), still the best treatment of its subject; and A.W. Martin, Henry Parkes (1964, reissued 1980), illuminating politics in the second half of the 19th century as well as analyzing the life of a leading politician of the time. D.N. Jeans Brian Hinton Fletcher

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Universalium. 2010.

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