WA Government fails to back O'Connor

The West Australian government should have backed him. They should have come to his defense. But they did not. John Forrest was gone - gone into federal politics at the time of the birth of the nation. The rest of the government had never really supported the pipeline. The silence from the government was deafening. Instead of taking the critics to task over baseless and libellous claims like the one above they did nothing.

O'Connor could take no more. He left a note:

'The Coolgardie Scheme is alright and I could finish it if I got a chance and protection from misrepresentation but there is no hope of that now and it is better that it should be given to some entirely new man to do who will be untrammelled by prior responsibility'

He then rode his horse on to the beach near Robb's Jetty south of Fremantle and took his own life. So ended the life of a giant among men, hounded to death by small men who could do nothing but criticise. A memorial has been constructed in the ocean, just beyond the breakers, near the place that he took his life.

You have to wonder what motivated his critics. It cannot have been any problems with his work. He had successfully built Fremantle Harbour. He had sorted out the railway system, including the construction of the Swan View railway tunnel, turning it from a massive loss maker into profitability. The Mundaring Weir on the Helena river had been constructed successfully, in spite of some pretty significant technical problems.

O'Connor himself believed that it was orchestrated by men representing an English company who had wanted the contract to build the pipeline.