When matters were, sailing along with apparent serenity at the monthly meeting of the Bathurst Pastures Protection Board yesterday, Mr. J. J. Sullivan launched a heavy and unexpected attack upon the chairman, Mr. Charles Boyd and the stock inspector, Mr. C. R. Brett. He trenchantly criticised Mr. Brett for neglecting to do his duty and Mr. Boyd with having permitted him to do so.
Mr. Brett had hardly concluded his monthly report by dealing seriatim with his daily work since the previous meeting, when Mr. Sullivan opened fire.
"Mr. Chairman," said Mr. Sullivan, "I am not going to be a member of this Board and be made a fool of. I have spoken before about the stock inspector not doing duties he had been instructed to do and you promised that you would see they were done. Still, here we have his report today, the same old thing, 'such and such a date in the office attending to district correspondence, and so on. This is no good to me. Two days a month should be sufficient to attend to all the correspondence in the office, whilst the rest of his time should be spent in the country. That is what he is paid for, and if he did his work properly we would not have so much trouble. There is altogether too much office work mentioned in the report and you promised, Mr. Chairman, that you would attend to the matter."
The Chairman: In what way?
Mr. Sullivan : In regard to the rabbits, for instance. Mr. Brett has been instructed to inspect and report regarding them and he has not done so.
The Chairman : Am I to be blamed for it personally?
Mr. Sullivan: Yes, if you don't see that Mr. Brett carries out his instructions.
Mr. Boyd: Of course, you would see that he did so?
Mr. Sullivan : Certainty I would.
Mr. Boyd : You're a perfect wonder. (Indignantly, demonstratively) : Look, I could wind you up in a knot.
Mr. Sullivan : If you can, you had better proceed.
Mr. Boyd : Am I responsible for Mr. Brett's failures.
Mr. Sullivan : You are the chairman.
Mr. Boyd : Am I to be saddled with all the blame?
Mr. Sullivan: Yes, as chairman.
Mr. Boyd (warmly) : I will not stand it.
Mr. Sullivan : You will have to stand it. You are chairman of the Board.
Mr. Boyd: I want the members of the Board to endorse what you are saying. It is a challenge to me, a vote of censure, and if the other members endorse what you say, I will vacate the chair in two minutes.
Mr. Brownlow: I am sorry this unpleasantness has come about. If the inspector has not done his duty, we all, as members of the Board, are responsible, and not the chairman in dividually. I might say that I am not satisfied with the inspector's report at times. If the inspector is not doing his duty, it is for us to get up and say so, and the chairman has the liberty to move a vote of censure on the inspector. The chairman is not to blame. If the chairman gives instructions to the stock inspector and he does not carry out those instructions, it is for the chairman to report to the Board. I am here to bear my share of the responsibility, just as much as the chairman. We have given the inspector instructions to carry out certain work, and it has been delayed for too long.
Mr. Kerr: Is there anything the stock inspector was asked to do that he has not done? The stock inspector might go about in the district a bit more at times. I don't think the chairman should be blamed for the whole thing. It is a matter for the whole of the directors. If the stock inspector has been told to do certain things and he could not give reasons why they had not been done, then we can deal with it.
Mr. A. J. Brownlow: The stock inspector's duty is not in the office.
Mr. J. A. Wallace: What about his daily correspondence? If the office work is confined to two days, he will have to attend to it on the last two days of the month. He has correspondence to attend to daily.
The Chairman: I am in this position—I have been censured, and I want your opinion and vote about it.
Mr. Wallace immediately moved a vote of confidence in the chairman, which was seconded by Mr. H. E. Brown.
Mr. Boyd: You have not got the members of the board to back you up.
Mr. Sullivan : No, but I have got Mr. Brett's recent reports. I have something more to say yet.
Mr. Boyd: I am prepared to listen to you. I thought you had finished.
Mr. Sullivan: I am not moving a vote of censure. You promised us here that you would see that the inspector did his duty.
The Chairman: How do you know that I have not given the inspector instructions?
Mr. Sullivan: I am in this office nearly every day.
The Chairman : (Significantly) Yes, you are—go on.
Mr. Sullivan : And Mr. Brett is not in the office when he says he is.
Mr. Brett : That is absolutely incorrect.
Mr. Sullivan : It is not. At last meeting you said you were in the office three days. I didn't say anything about it before because I thought you might have been sick. I was in the office morning and evening, and you were not there.
Mr. Boyd : Yes, you are there morning and evening alright.
Mr. Brett: The days can be looked up.
Mr. Sullivan : I want the inspector to be out in the country, as Mr. Brownlow said. There is nothing in the daily correspondence that would not wait till he returned. The correspondence from the chief inspector is to be attended to, but the other correspondence is not very important.
Mr. Boyd : You are always in the office. Chairmen live 40 miles from the P.P. Board Offices and seldom go to the office between meetings. They trust to their men, and they seem to get along alright.
Mr. Sullivan : I will ask the chief inspector for a copy of Mr. Brett's work for the past six months.
Mr. Boyd: You can do that, if you like.
Mr. Sullivan (to Mr. Brett) : Did you send on your shearing reports and the lambing reports last year?
Mr. Brett; No; there was no provision made for postage.
Mr. Sullivan: We never heard anything about those reports not being sent.
Mr. Boyd : I am as cool as a cucumber. I am listening to it all. I am not annoyed.
Mr. Sullivan : I don't think you were ever annoyed.
The Chairman: I want the other members of the Board to endorse, or otherwise, what you have said. If I am guilty of what you say, I would be recreat to my duties as chairman. Life would not be worth living. I would want hitting on the head. (Laughter.)
Mr. Brown : The inspector's duties are similar day in and day out. There is much similarity in his work, consequently there must be a similarity in his reports.
Mr. Brett: Certainly. It is similar work each day.
After a few more exchanges the chairman told Mr. Sullivan that if he were chairman he would work the stock inspector to death.
Mr. Sullivan (warmly) : Every man I've employed has always been willing to come back to me.
Mr. Boyd : This is a vote of censure against me, and if you had been cogitating the scheme for a fortnight you could not have carried it out more effectively.
Mr. Sullivan explained that the matter was not personal at all.
Mr. Boyd: I feel it though I do not show it.
Mr. Sullivan : I did not intend to be personal. I don't want the inspector to come here and tell the Board that he is in the office. He might go into the office and write one letter or so. His duty is in the country.
The Chairman: And what is your duty?
Mr. Sullivan: What, as a member of the Board?
The Chairman : Yes.
Mr. Sullivan: To see that he carries out his work.
The motion expressing confidence in the chairman was then carried and another matter, requiring an explanation from Mr. Brett, was gone on with. Mr. Brett's explanation in this matter was accepted by all but Mr. Sullivan, who described it as "a piece of bluff."