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THE Grey River Argus PUBLISHED DAILY. FRIDAY , OCTOBER 21, 1887.

The affairs of the Westport Harbor Board are beginning to meet with the attention of some of the most influential newspapers in the colony. We may thank the resignation of Mr Napier Bell for concentrating public attention on the doings of a body — or rather of the commanding personality who dominates that body — hat has become a spectacle for gods and men. It is high time that an inquiry was held, and whether the member for Builer had or had not moved for the production of all the papers and correspondence of the board somebody else wo.jld have moved for them, even if they did not necessarily constitute an essential part of any inquiry held. It appears that when Sir Juliuß Yogel (who was Minister j of Ma> me before llio defeat of the late Ministry) saw the advertisement fora new engineer, he telegraphed to the Westport Harbor Board reminding them that, if if they were not aware of the fact, the appointment of an engine r was something respecting which Government had to be consulted. It would have been better for everyone concerned, aud probably have saved the character and selfrespect of the board, if they had been reminded before that such a controlling power as the Government existed. But no, they seemed io reserve all their active interference for the Greymouth Harbor Board, while the cognate body of Westport. was given over to the capricious and arbitrary v. ill of one man. While Westport was allowed to c^rry out her harbor works by a system of day labor which involved the employment of 300 men. strong exception was taken Io the Greymouth body venturing to do any patt of its work by day labor. Perhaps, however, we should lay a portion of the blame for this unfair interference at our own door, as it is prethy well-known that one or more numbers of our board who could not get their own way in open council tried to defeat the wishes of the majoriiy by underhand methods. It does not reflect very favorably on any Ministry that would allow themselves to be influenced by such means ; and if they were not so influenced, how are we to account for the remarkably different way in which two 1 cal bodies similarly consii uted were treated ? It is a very creditable fact in favor of the Greymouth board that when the old board ceased by effluxion of lime in Jnne last its members were reippointed. That was pain proof that Government had every confidence in them. It was different with the Weetport boar-, Mr John Hughes

being the only member of the old board now on the new one, and he could not be i removed, being mayor of the town. Unhappily the change was for the worse. ; The other members appointed (says tho Otago Daily Times) were :— Mr James Colvin, foreman in Mr Eugene O'Conor's butcher's shop ; Me William Mailer, a small bootmaker in Wes'port ; Mr Jules Simon, a storekeeper in a small way at; J Westport- ; Mr John Fennell, resident at the Lyell, 44 miles from Westporfc ; Mr Timothy Gallagher, of unknown fame. Our contemporary then goes on to say — " The above board, ih the exception of Mr Hughes, is in fact the creation of Mr Eugene O'Conor. That such a board should have been appointed is one of the most remarkabie scandals in connection with the expendi ure of public money ihat has occurred in this colony, and that 1 in the face of most urgent represeatakions to ! the late Ministry as to the unsuitability of several of the proposed members, on ; account both of want of standing and of being mere nominees of Mr O'Conor. The late Government, however, devised a scheme to shelter themselves from the ignominy of the appointment which is as ingenious as it is flimsy. It first sight nothing could be more straight forward and proper than the course adopted by the Stout- Vogel Government in making the appointments. The Government couli, from their own knowledge, have selected a good and independent b-ard ; but in a /rue democratic spirit referred the matter to the county council and bo:ough council to nominate persons for appointment. As a matter of fact, as was well known, Mr O'Conor could control the nominations by both bodies, as the result proved It was still quite open for the Government to make independent appointments and re- | ject Mr O'Conor's nominees, but the nominations were accepted. If our readers will note that at the time when the appointment 3 were made the elections were pending, that Mr O'Conor was standing for Westport as an out-and-out supporter of the Ministry, with every probability of carrying his election, they may understand why Mr O'Conor's nominees were accepted. Since Mie new board took office, evecy means has been u*ed to drive Mr Bell from his position as engineer by interfering with his conduct of works, dismissing hisin3pector, requiring him to do inspector's work, acting in opposition to any advice, and generally :viaking his position as uncomfortable as possible. The number of men employed upon the works has, as might have been expected been unnecessarily increased, and by consequence so has thecos h of the work done. Some members of the board have stores at the works, and men who will deal at these stores are taken on :n preference to those who will not, whatever their respective quelifications may be ; and generally all round things are being made pleasant for Mr O'Conor's friends. We doubt if a more unblushing maladministration of public functions has ever taken place in she Colony. The cost of atone under the late boa'd was 2s lid per ton, under the present board it has already risen to 3s l|d rer ton, and there is no saying when the increase will stop, Tho late Government could have prevented this, but though abundantly warned they neglected to do so, and their action in this case is butffurther evidence of the laxity of their administration. We trust that their successors will not flinch for a moment from the e'ear duty of altering the constitution of the board." It is at any rate f.o be hoped that a full and ample inquiry will be instituted ; and in the production of correspondence might be included the lettev that appeared in the Bnller Neics libelling Mr Napier Bell, and fchfl writer of_ which—anonymously of course— was his arch enemy and unscrupulous persecutor.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/GRA18871021.2.7

Bibliographic details

Grey River Argus, Grey River Argus, Volume XXXV, Issue 6017, 21 October 1887

Word Count
1,088

THE Grey River Argus PUBLISHED DAILY. FRIDAY, OCTOBER 21, 1887. Grey River Argus, Volume XXXV, Issue 6017, 21 October 1887

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