He needed all of John Forrest's backing to get it up, and even then it took two years before funding was arranged and work started. To his great credit Forrest backed O'Connor all the way. This was not true of the rest of the WA parliament and the majority of the press in Perth. Men hiding behind parliamentary privilege attacked him mercilessly; parts of the press were even more savage. AG Evans, in his book C.Y. O'Connor: his life and legacy records this passage from the Sunday Times of 9 February 1902:
...And apart from any distinct charge of corruption this man has exhibited such gross blundering or something worse, in his management of great public works it is no exaggeration to say that he has robbed the taxpayer of this state of many millions of money...This crocodile imposter has been backed up in all his reckless extravagant juggling with public funds, in all his nefarious machinations behind the scenes by the kindred-souled editor of the West Australian.
Critics claimed he was lining his own pockets at the expense of taxpayers. They said he was a charlatan who did not know what he was doing - and this after the success of Fremantle harbour! Small men, faceless men, continually attacking a giant, a man of vision and courage.