The Ashburton Guardian. Magna et Veritas et Prævalebit WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 27,1890. RETRENCHMENT IN THE CIVIL SERVICE.
The Retrenchment Party m the House of Representatives have given a good account of themselves this session. When the Estimates for the year were brought down these were attacked m. a most determined manner. The majority of the House demanded to know particulars of the varions items proposed to be voted, and these particulars being supplied, m numberless cases the votes proposed were found to be unnecessarily extravagant. Accordingly substantial sums were deducted from the salaries of over-paid Civil Servants whose salaries had remained untouched m the recent retrenchment demanded by the House and country. The Ministry, as we have before remarked, fought m a determined manner to prevent reductions being made, but being unable to stem the current asked to be allowed to go with it and direct the helm. A promise was made by the Ministry to reduce the Estimates by £50,000 if the Government were allowed to do so m their own way ; but this offer was refused, and the Retrenchment Party took charge of the Estimates and tore them to shreds m the face of Ministers who were powerless to resist. Any ordinary Ministry, under such circumstances, would have resigned, but the extraordinary combination at present controlling New Zealand affairs swallowed the indignity, and stuck to the Benches. Having failed m the effort to save the salaries of friends and proteges m the Public Service, the reductions were accepted under protest. The Ministry, however, let it be plainly seen that if they could possibly get away from carrying out the instructions of the House they would do so. This was the cue for Civil Serrants affected to combine and throw all manner of impediments m the way of retrenchment being carried out. Hence the formation of what is practically a Civil Service Union throughout the colony, the object of which is to preserve,atthe expenseof taxpayers, the present over-paid, under-worked, and cumberous system of officialism—a system altogether too elaborate and out of proportion to the requirements ot the colony. No one will blame the over-paid Civil Servants for combining and protesting against their salaries being reduced or their work increased; m doing so they are quite within their rights. But it is certainly not the duty of the Government to encourage them m so doing m face of the wish of the House and will of the country. The first protest that has come m so far, on behalf of the Civil Service, is from the Controller and AuditorGeneral's Department. In this department the House instructed the Ministry to deduct £950 from the vote originally proposed, but Mr J. E. Fitzgerald, head of the department, has sent forward a curiously-worded protest that this amount cannot possibly be retrenched unless by means of the dismissal of three or four clerks, whose services are absolutely indispensiblc. This is the only method, so says Mr Fitzgerald, by which he can carry out the instnj.ctib,ns, of the Government, and having thus s.«t the ball rolling, we may expect that the same cry will be raised from every department affected by the recent reductions made m the Estimates, The only way m which the heads of departments can see that retrenchment may be effected is by reducing the salaries of subordinates or. discharging them altogether, and thus interfere with the efficiency of the public services. This is the Ministerial idea, and the Civil Servants have taken up the cry, and we may expect to hear it echoed throughout the land during the forthcoming elections. The House and the country, however, if we mistake not, have given some broad hints that retrenchment is not wanted m the rank and file, l>ut at the head of the tree. The country has awakened to the fact that the salaries of heads of depfj.rtni.ent are greatly out of proportion to salaries paid to the rank and file, and that the prosperous days have gone by when princely incomes and retiring allowances can be granted either to Controller-Generals of Aufjit Department, Chief Cleiks, Inspectors of Prjsons, Railway Commissioners, Agents-jfieiw&ra], or the thousand m$ one .other .offtcialg whf) overcrowd and over-man our elaborate red-tapeism. The state o| the cqloixy demands that the most rigid economy shall be practised, and the people are determined to have it.