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.