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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72

The Civil Service

page 15

The Civil Service.

As an illustration of how a democracy is apt to be led astray by a craving for equality I should like to call attention to the attitude assumed towards the Civil Service.

The salaries paid to officers of the Civil Service are markedly lower in New Zealand than in England, though I doubt whether either in ability, in single-hearted desire to serve the State, or in loyalty to the political chief of the hour would they yield the palm to oar own Civil Servants. Yet members of the Democratic party never ceased to attack the qualifications, the ability, and even the honour of these men upon every occasion when Parliament was tailed upon to vote their salaries.

The democracy seem only to have perceived the difference between the remuneration of the brain worker and of the hand worker. They appear to have been consumed with an envious desire to exchange the fustian for the black cloth coat, forgetting that if the State, is to discharge these new duties and to minister to the wants of the people the officers of the State must be the most competent that can be found, and must be maintained in such a position of; comfort as will place them above the constant and serious temptations which are the greatest danger to the successful development of State Socialism.

When the spirit of economy was abroad the first to whom the pruning-knife of retrenchment is applied are the servants of the State, from whose salaries 10 per cent, is knocked off all round by one stroke of the pen.

It is reported that a retrenching Minister was travelling in the Government lighthouse steamer to address a meeting of constituents fixed for a particular hour. He urged the captain, one of the oldest officers of the New Zealand Service, to accelerate the pace of the vessel, with the remark, "She doesn't seem to me to travel as fast is she used to." "No," replied the skipper, "I don't think she does, sir, since you took 10 per cent, off the screw."