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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 7 (February 1, 1932.)

Railway Officers' Smoke Concert — Interesting Speeches

page 53

Railway Officers' Smoke Concert
Interesting Speeches.

Members of the Wellington branch of the New Zealand Railway Officers' Institute farewelled the late General Manager, Mr. H. H. Sterling, at their annual smoke concert on Saturday, December 5th, and tendered a welcome to Mr. P. G. Roussell, the newly-appointed General Manager.

The gathering was excellently attended. Mr. M. J. Forde, Chairman of the Branch, presided, and seated on either side of him were Mr. Sterling and Professor B. E. Murphy. Also seated at the chairman's table were Mr. P. G. Roussell, Mr. G. H. Mackley, Asst. General Manager, Mr. E. Casey, Chief Engineer, Mr. V. J. R. Stanley, President of the N.Z.R.O.I., and Mr. R. W. McVilly, ex-General Manager of Railways.

The toast of the Executive of the Institute was proposed by Mr. E. Casey, and replied to by the President, Mr. Stanley. Mr. Stanley also proposed the toast “Valediction to Mr. H. H. Sterling.” “The Management” was proposed by Professor Murphy, and replied to by Mr. P. G. Roussell. Mr. R. R. Gow proposed “Past Officers and Superannuated Members of the N.Z.R.O.I.” which was replied to by Mr. R. W. McVilly.

Replying to the toast of the Management, Mr. P. G. Roussell, General Manager, spoke as follows:—

“On behalf of the Management I desire to say how much I appreciate the way in which the toast has been honoured. I am sure Mr. Mackley will be, with me, very pleased at the many expressions of goodwill and congratulations and offers of co-operation which we have received from the various Societies and individual members.

“Speaking personally, I am under no illusion as regards the importance of the position I am taking up and I feel that to make a success of it I will have to have the co-operation and loyalty of every member of the service—and I feel I am going to get it.

“I may say that the management has been faced with a difficult task these last two years. In 1929 we had the record traffic that has ever been handled in the Dominion. A few months later we were faced with the fact of a world-wide depression that hit us, with every transport concern, very heavily. About June, 1930, we recognised we were faced with the probability of a deficit of at least three-quarters of a million pounds in our revenue, and naturally we had to make very strenuous efforts to counteract that fall in revenue by a heavy curtailment in expenditure. That fall in revenue actually did occur, but fortunately with the keen work and loyal support of the whole service we were able to cut our expenditure by slightly under half a million pounds.

“The position since the commencement of the present financial year in April last has become increasingly difficult and we have been faced with a falling revenue of £100,000 per period, and we have had to make still more desperate efforts to try to counteract that decrease in revenue by a corresponding decrease in expenditure. We have actually been able to attain that object. It has been a very unpleasant and arduous duty—necessarily a big decrease in expenditure of that nature is attended with a good deal of hardship, and I think the members of this Institute would be very reassured if they knew to what extent the management has tried to minimise the individual hardship in the service. Mr. Stanley mentioned Mr. Sterling's very sympathetic consideration of individual cases of hardship. In my position, close to Mr. Sterling, I probably know more about it even than Mr. Stanley, more about the very anxious time Mr. Sterling has had in trying to minimise the effect on individual members of the shock the Department as a whole has had to absorb. We are not out of the wood yet by any means; the position is not a bit reassuring. I do not want to strike a pessimistic note, but our revenue is still falling, and it calls for further efforts on our part to page 54 try and counteract this fall in revenue by a corresponding decrease in expenditure. I feel sure that the staff as a whole will assist the management as much as possible and to the fullest extent, to enable us to get the expenditure within the revenue and to leave a little over towards interest.

“I do not know that I want to say a great deal more. Mr. Mackley, my colleague and assistant, also desires to say a few words. I take this opportunity of again thanking you all for the expressions of support and goodwill that have been extended to Mr. Mackley and myself, and I assure you these thanks are very sincere. I feel very fortified in taking over this new position with the knowledge that I will have Mr. Sterling's guidance and experience in his new position as Chairman of the Government Railways Board, and that has assisted me to a great extent in reconciling myself to the very difficult duty that I have to perform in filling his lately vacated position. I thank you once again, gentlemen.”

Mr. G. H. Mackley's Speech.

Supporting the toast of “The Management,” Mr. G. H. Mackley, Asst. General Manager, said:—

“I thank you very much indeed for the very hearty and sincere manner in which you honoured the toast of the Management. In the lesser position I occupy in the Management it shall be my sincere endeavour to bring to bear that big mind and that fair dealing that Mr. Sterling has already mentioned.

“From the fact that I have been long associated with the Institute, during which time I have sat on the Executive Council, I at least have some knowledge of the desires and aspirations of the officers of the service. I trust, gentlemen, that in the position I am now occupying I will be found no less sympathetic, no less fair, than I have been in the past. Gentlemen, I look to you, and I feel sure that in looking to you I will not do so in vain, for the very great measure of help that I will receive in the occupancy of my position. I realise, as Professor Murphy has stated, that we are probably batting on a sticky wicket, but, nevertheless, sticky wickets have been encountered before and overcome, and in the present circumstances with your very able and loyal assistance and co-operation we will be successful in our endeavour to overcome the sticky patches we may find on our particular wicket in the future. The bowling may be against us for some time, but I do hope—and I think with some justification—that under the able administration of the Railways Board we will be in a much better position than probably ever the railways have been before in the history of the country, to face it. I feel, gentlemen, that in following out the policy of the Board, we will be materially helped, and the people of this country will be materially helped in overcoming the difficulties that have arisen in connection with the national transport system.

“I also hope, and I think you will gather some measure of comfort from the thought, that the prospects of the railways developing and recovering their position, as they assuredly will, are much brighter to-day, and that your prospects also must inevitably become very much brighter than they are today. I do not propose to say anything further, gentlemen, except to assure you of this; that I hope to bring to bear in my dealings with the staff, a sympathy that I know the men appreciate. Insofar as my office is concerned, my door will be open to any member of the service who thinks he might have a grievance: my time will be placed unreservedly at the disposal of the staff who care to call on me “with any of their troubles. Whilst I do not expect to be overwhelmed with every bit of bother that might crop up, I would appreciate any officer of the Department coming along to me with his little tale of woe—and though perhaps it will not be always possible to say “yes” we will at least endeavour to give each individual member who finds it necessary to come along, a sympathetic hearing, and to show that our sympathies at least are with the members of the service, without whose support and loyalty our efforts would be absolutely futile.

“I thank you, gentlemen, and Professor Murphy, for the sincere manner in which you have honoured the toast of the management.”

page break
Travel Comfort on the N.Z.R. (Rly. Publicity photos.) Interior views of the new cars (first and second class) recently commissioned for service on the “Limited” Expresses between Wellington and Auckland. In the centre is shewn the “Limited” Express (equipped with the new cars) approaching Wellington.

Travel Comfort on the N.Z.R.
(Rly. Publicity photos.)
Interior views of the new cars (first and second class) recently commissioned for service on the “Limited” Expresses between Wellington and Auckland. In the centre is shewn the “Limited” Express (equipped with the new cars) approaching Wellington.

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