Story: Public service

Cartoon about civil-service reform, 1912

Cartoon about civil-service reform, 1912

William Massey became prime minister in 1912 after promising to reduce expenditure and eliminate waste in the civil service. This cartoon, published that year, shows him planning to drop the sword of public service reform (an allusion to the sword of Damocles, from a Greek legend) on a cobwebbed civil servant labelled Deadwood Dick. The sign above Massey's head reads 'Political Nominee Department', an indication that many people believed civil servants obtained or retained their jobs through their support for the government of the day.

Using this item

Auckland City Libraries - Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero, Sir George Grey Special Collections
Reference: Auckland Weekly News Supplement, 19 Sept 1912, p. 4

Permission of Auckland City Libraries Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Richard Shaw, 'Public service - Reform, 1912 to 1962', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 24 July 2024)

Story by Richard Shaw, published 20 Jun 2012, reviewed & revised 8 Mar 2021