Miscellany: Red Ted and Australia’s most famous inducement

Red Ted and Australia’s most famous inducement

Until yesterday the most famous alleged inducement to a Federal parliamentarian was the case of proto-Keynseian and newspaper and mining magnate, E.G.Theodore.

Theodore – known as Red Ted – was elected to Parliament in February 1927 after the member for Dalley, W.G.Mahony, stood down and Theodore got the seat without pre-selection.

Theodore became ALP Federal Treasurer and argued that public works spending was the best way to combat the Depression. Although this radical nonsense – as it was considered at the time – was controversial his downfall was precipitated by allegations that Mahony had been offered cash inducements to step down and make way for Theodore. Despite a number of inquiries, allegations against John Wren and others nothing was ever proved against Theodore. Indeed, he later said that he’d never have been stupid enough to give his own money to Mahony.

….and his own money was quite a lot. Having had a checkered business career before entering politics he left to develop an even more prosperous one as Frank Packer’s partner in The Australian Women’s Weekly and the Telegraph and then as proprietor of Emperor Mines.

The fullest discussion of Theodore’s career and the case are in Irwin Young’s Theodore His Life and Times (Alpha Press 1971) a book completed after Young’s death by Henry Mayer.

Theodore did have a reprise in politics after Parliament becoming Director General of the Allied Works Council during the war and getting involved in  the Ward vs Curtin battles.

Theodore died in 1950 and they just don’t seem to make ALP politicians like that anymore.