Industries. – Before 1851 all the occupied regions were dedicated to pastoralism; agriculture was of little importance and there were few manufactures: mills (220 in 1848), tanneries and breweries. The main exports at that time consisted of wool, fats, skins and salted meat; whale oil was also important but gradually this trade was dying out. The decline of gold deposits produced an excess of manpower which tended to concentrate in the capitals. The first railway operated in 1854 and the first regular communications with Europe by means of steamships began in 1856. For Australia economics and business, please check businesscarriers.com.
About 8000 of these plants are located in New South Wales and the same number in Victoria; 2000 in both Queensland and South Australia; 1000 in Western Australia and 1000 in Tasmania. About 451,000 people are employed there, that is 7.6% of the entire population. Probably the largest industrial center is Newcastle (north of Sydney) which employs 6,000 men in steel mills, while other important factories are on nearby Walsh Island. Another notable metallurgical center is in Port Kembla (65 km. South of Sydney). Victoria’s main factories are located in Melbourne and Geelong. The exploitation of Tasmanian hydroelectric power has led to a great development of the chemical and metallurgical industries and of the chocolate factories in Hobart. Wool mills should have a great future, but they have only developed a few years ago. There are 13 in New South Wales, 27 in Victoria and a few in each of the other states, with a total of 50 factories and 8,735 workers for the entire Federation. Many Australian industries have had a new impetus after the war and the country tends to produce its needs in various categories of manufactured goods: the shortage of labor and the limited internal markets themselves, however, pose a very big obstacle to the development of industry and Australia remains essentially a producer and exporter of raw materials. (See Table CIV-CVI).
Commerce. – The significant rapid development of production has made itself felt in external traffic, which has been acquiring, in the last few decades, a place of great importance, especially for the motherland. The figures for the last few years are reported (in thousands of pounds sterling) in the following table:
In the export, consisting almost entirely of raw materials supplied by the vegetable and animal kingdom, the products of livestock are in first place (61%) and among these, wool (47%), one third of which goes to Great Britain, for a little less quantity to France and, for the remainder, to the various European countries and Japan. Loads of wool leave Australia along with dairy and wheat in February and March. Those of meat, mostly directed to the United States, but now and in increasing quantities also in Europe, throughout the year. The export of meat to the Indian Archipelago and Egypt is also increasing, and it is not unlikely that this marks the beginning of an important traffic with tropical countries.
In importation, machines, manufactured articles (fabrics), oil, iron, rubber, tobacco and paper prevail, almost half supplied by the mother country and over a quarter by the United States; then come, with various specialties, other European countries (France, Germany, Belgium, Italy) and Asian (Japan, British India and Dutch). Among the cars, the first place is taken by cars, which are the most widespread means of transport, and are mostly supplied by America (Ford).
The following tables indicate the main kinds (for 1925-26) of the import and export trade and the countries of origin and destination of it (in thousands of pounds):
Trade with Italy has had, in recent years, some periods of great increase, especially (as in 1924-25) due to our heavy purchases (wool, wheat, frozen meats, skins). These now tend to stabilize on a smaller figure, which, however, always significantly exceeds that of our exports (cars, marbles, processed leathers). The official Italian figures for 1925 are L. 1,244,895,000 for import from the Federation and L. 120,008,000 for our export. An Italian shipping line is maintained by Lloyd Sabaudo and by Navigazione Generale Italiana, with departures from Genoa, on average, every 28 days: the steamers take about 50 days to Brisbane (Queensland) and call at Fremantle (the port of Perth), Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.
The latter are the most active ports of the Federation, connected with all other parts of the world. Regular communications are maintained with the western ports of America, through lines that touch the most important places in the Pacific, and with New Zealand. The total maritime movement was for 1925-26, of 1583 ships for over 5 million tons. The Australian merchant navy novera, on its behalf (1926) 970 steamers (355,000 tons) and 1261 sailing ships (34,500 tons): ships, on average, of small tonnage and intended for coastal navigation and fishing. (See Table CVII-CX).
Internal communications reflect the unfavorable environmental and employment conditions of a large part of the continent. The railway network (1925) measures 44,559 km; it develops with large peripheral lines and many blind trunks towards the interior and towards the most advanced points of colonization, especially in the eastern, south-eastern and south-western portion of Australia. The Adelaide-Perth cross link is recent; and the continuation of the transcontinental Adelaide-Darwin is entrusted to the future, on the road marked by the old telegraph line (3200 km.), which finds in Darwin the submarine telegraph cable that connects Australia to the ancient world. The internal ordinary road network is, outside the most populated and urban districts, on the whole bad, and in the Western Australia the camel has also assumed an important place among transport. Air traffic is developing over a vast range of peripheral lines and already maintains regular communications with the more isolated places in the interior and the west coast.