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2006-06-10

Howard's dad: not just a battler, also a dummy

As in dummy fronting for a corporation rorting the ex-servicemen land grants in New Guinea after WW1, that is. The full story is in The Age.

Two corporations, W.R. Carpenter and Burns Philp, are well documented as having given ex-servicemen the stake money to apply for land grants to copra plantations that were then managed by the corporations until the full price was paid off, and then usually sold by the soldiers to the corporations.. The ex-soldiers didn't receive any income from their plantations (which on paper made them wealthy landowners) but generally received an annual fee from the companies for acting as dummies.

Howard's father and grandfather were both investigated with regard to acting as dummy plantation-owners for W. R. Carpenter, but both they and the company managed to avoid any charges. Howard's father bought the plantations in the late 20s just after losing his job with CSR when he and his wife were expecting the birth of their first child, yet despite losing that job he was able to put down deposits not only on the New Guinea plantations but also on the famed garage in Dulwich Hill. This ran to thousands of pounds, a fortune at the time, which it is hard to account for otherwise than as the Age alleges: from money received by W R Carpenter in return for acting as their dummy in New Guinea.

It's a far cry from the story of saving up to open up your own business without relying on government handouts that Howard likes to tell. Howard Snr conspired with a corporation to defraud the government (and thereby the taxpayers) - it's just a different way of relying on government handouts, and a far less honest one than registering to receive social welfare benefits. By all accounts, Howard's not wrong that his father worked hard to make the garage and mechanics business a success once he bought it. But it appears that it was only corrupt practises that enabled him to build the stake he needed to buy it in the first place.

Ah, yes: but if all the rest of us bludgers just worked hard enough, we could own our own businesses too. You tell us, Honest John.

4 comments:

phil said...

Not telling the whole truth is not the same as telling a lie. If it's good enough for Honest John, it's good enough for me. It is, in fact, a very efficient way to run a country - if you want a country run efficiently.

tigtog said...

I actually have a great deal of sympathy for any of the ex-Diggers who went along with the plantation-scam. It was a tough time economically, here was a chance to get a lump sum to use as a stake plus an annuity from the copra corporations - for lots of family men it would have seemed madness to pass the deal up.

But it's not just a question of not telling the whole truth about how his father (and grandfather) built up the family business. It's the way he has known about this since at least the early 60s and still made this myth of them bootstrapping their way into owning their own business purely by hard work.

One doesn't have to air one's dirty laundry for the masses, but neither does one need to pretend there have never been any dirty sheets.

Helen said...

I actually have a great deal of sympathy for any of the ex-Diggers who went along with the plantation-scam. It was a tough time economically, here was a chance to get a lump sum to use as a stake plus an annuity from the copra corporations - for lots of family men it would have seemed madness to pass the deal up.

Yes, but I bet the same people - and Howard - would condemn young twentysomethings using the dole as a basic wage while they try to become the next big thing in art or music or whatever. Or a single mum who inexplicably believes it would be better to just work at bringing up her child/ren rather than getting a basic wage job which wouldn't bring her and them any financial improvement.

tigtog said...

It's all in all with the rest of their hypocrisy, Helen. You're absolutely right.