WITH the object of bringing into close communication the various parts of the Empire, an idea has been mooted in Canada which has found great favour in Australia and New Zealand. It is that an ” All Red ” series of steamships should be inaugurated between England, Australia, and New Zealand, via Canada and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, which in point of speed and comfort would satisfy the most up-to-date requirements.
The word ” All Red ” is perhaps a little unfortunate, since it conveys to the sceptical mind a somewhat visionary ” Imperialistic” idea, with perhaps a touch of jingoism and flag waving. The scheme is very far from that, however, and is, in fact, a very sound commercial pro-position for the improvement, not only of the relations but also of the mutual trade between Canada and Australia.
The whole trend of modern conditions points to the future importance of the Pacific Ocean. The United States and Japan have already fully realised its possibilities, and if Canada, Australia, and New Zealand would fully grasp their own they must, so it is urged, take active steps to secure the trade they hold and lay a foundation for a future increase.
With the realisation of this importance comes the probability that representative ships of the great navies of all countries interested in the Pacific Ocean will be stationed there. For a navy to be successful in the highest sense of the word it must be supported by a strong mercantile marine or it has no more power than is represented by the range of its longest gun. From the point of view of trade, too, the scheme offers a very striking field for the commercial statistician.
In 1903 the exports from Australia to Canada amounted to L 24,837, in 1907 £124,698. The imports from Canada in 1903 were £352,939, and in 1907 they were £386,170. Some figures are given below showing the increase in certain articles of commerce exported by Australia to Canada during the period under review.
This growth is due to natural causes and not to any efforts on the part of either government. It is highly probable that by means of special arrangements between the two countries or by fresh means of communication this trade could be stimulated to an extent which would entirely repay the outlay demanded by the ” All Red ” scheme.
The above figures refer only to trading exports of Canada. It must be remembered that, in regard to imports, she purchases in addition from London and elsewhere large quantities of skins, wool, and other Australian produce.
Both Australia and Canada are growing countries, and their populations are increasing rapidly. In particular, British Columbia is becoming closely settled ; and the population demands a high standard of living. Moreover, in British Columbia, again, the seasons differ from those of Australia, the winter season of Canada being the season of production in Australia, and these ‘conditions favour the exchange of trade. In these circumstances the home markets will very shortly be unable to absorb the production, and producers must look for markets outside to keep their capital in circulation. Furthermore, the sentiment of Canada is one of great friendliness to Australia, and she would welcome closer trade relations which would certainly be of benefit to both parties. Every state in the Commonwealth, with the exception of Western Australia, has done its share in the exports of Canada. Even now the trade is limited by the lack of capacity and infrequency of the services on the Canadian-Australian line. Larger and speedier mail steamers, with a constant development of trade, would eventually lead to the placing of cargo steamers on the Canadian-Australian line, and also cause much more frequent intercourse between the travelling population of the two countries.
It has been the experience of Canada that the tourist who returns to his home well pleased with what he has seen, forms one of the finest immigration agents in the world, and this being so it is thought that the bringing nearer of Australia would eventually secure for her that growth of population which she needs before all other things.
It is estimated that the cost, on the Pacific side, of the service would be somewhat over £600,000, and with this comparatively small expenditure it is thought that the closer association between the countries that go to make up the British Empire would be quickened and stimulated, and there would be an increase of communication between the countries.
If the scheme goes through as intended the ” All Red ” service will bring Sydney within twenty-seven days of London, or four days nearer than it is at present, and it will give a gain of eight days on the land trip. What is of more importance it will bring Australia and Canada much closer than they are at present, and from an Imperial as well as a business standpoint would prove an enormous advantage to all countries concerned. It will be seen that this ” All Red ” scheme contemplates at present only services of fast mail steamers, which would carry but small amounts of cargo. They would, however, carry express parcels of valuable goods, and what is more, they would necessarily be followed by lines of cargo steamers to take the more bulky and less valuable articles.
A study of the mail steamers between San Francisco and Sydney is highly instructive. Notwithstanding that the United States is a greatly producing country whose policy it is to sell to other nations all she can, and buy as little as possible, the trade between America and Australia amounts to several millions sterling, and developed on more generous lines would undoubtedly have reached a much larger total. It must be remembered that fast mail steamers do not carry this trade, but they carry commercial travellers, which have made the trade what it is.
The New Zealand Government is so favourably impressed with the idea that she has expressed her intention of joining Canada in approaching the Imperial Government for the purpose of perfecting a scheme by which effect may be given to the resolutions passed at the Colonial Conference of 1907.