Life and Progress in Australasia
Written in 1898 by Michael Davitt, while MP for South Mayo following a seven month journey through the Australasian colonies.
... Australasia is, in fact, an industrial empire of unfederated Labour nations, where neither wars nor foreign policies intrude their demoralising influences upon the peaceful programmes and progress of domestic government. The people have the fullest and most effective control of their own affairs. There are no ruling classes. The Conservatism which shows itself in any organized form in the Legislatures has to be more democratic in its professions and programmes than an opportunist English Liberalism dares yet to be.
The book is written in nine parts covering Western Australia, South Australia, labour settlements on the Murray River, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, and New Zealand with the final part being on Australasian Prisons.
He had a special interest in the prisons, being interested in prison reform and the treatment of prisoners, and noted that Australian prisons were in advance of those of England with more enlightened and effective discipline imposed on the criminals … perhaps a reflection of our beginnings! He found no tread-mill or cell-crank in the whole of Australasia.
He visited many places – including Coolgardie, Perth, Albany, Adelaide, Broken Hill, Lyrup, Pyap, Melbourne, Geelong, Sydney, Brisbane, Rockhampton, Mount Morgan, Charters Towers, Hobart, Dunedin, Auckland, and Wellington – and ranges widely in what he writes. The book covers his impressions of each area, politics, the constitution, taxation, how the poor are cared for, Kanaka labour, and much more. His interest is largely a reflection of his own background – his family evicted from their home when the rent was in arrears, his time in prison and his position as a politican.