ABC whitewashing of a colourful family history
The entrepreneurial risk-taking winemaker versus the greedy, money grubbing corporation.
It’s a perfect narrative begging to be told, and particularly suited to television. An emotive story which was played out this week on the ABC’s Family Confidential. The story of a man who triumphed over early adversity, only to be brought undone by an unfeeling bank.
It’s heady stuff. It’s also a disappointing hagiography masquerading as a documentary.
Family Confidential comes from production house Australian Documentaries, in association with Screen Australia and the ABC.
In this week’s episode, Garrett and his family tell their side of the story an epic struggle against the bank and the monolithic media, which is supposedly out to bring Garrett down.
A cursory amount of research would compel anyone to probe further into Garrett’s background than this documentary does.
For example, a news story headlined ``ex-winemaker Andrew Garrett pestering ex-lover with sex texts…’’ is the second hit if you Google Garrett’s name.
This should set the alarm bells ringing that there are two sides to this story.
Indeed there are, and the one that played out in Adelaide courtrooms in the middle of the last decade is arguably the more intriguing one.
This is the story of a man who:
Lodged a $5.6 billion Federal Court claim against this reporter and 140 other defendants, including the British nation, alleging fraud and breaches of the Corporations Act. This claim was thrown out of Court;
Drove a $200,000 Maserati while failing to pay his creditors, which included many small businesses as well as large companies like National Australia Bank appropriated the branding of the Holy Grail bar in Canberra a regular haunt of politicians and Canberra’s journalistic community and sponsored a V8 supercar team under said name a deal which ultimately turned sour;
Tendered to court a worthless $10 million bill of exchange from a fictitious Swiss bank in order to pay his bills believe it or not, launched spurious takeover bids for Qantas, BHP Billiton, Suncorp Metway and Foster’s Group, based on financial support from this supposed Swiss bank Creditnet Bank Internationale.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture.
In Family Confidential Garrett is portrayed as a larrikin Aussie battler, who succeeded against the odds and in a way, contributed to a revolution in Australian winemaking and marketing.
This much is true.
But the story of how Garrett came undone subsequently can be put down as much to a surplus of ambition and mismanagement as to any ill intent he believes the NAB harboured him.
Garrett sold his naming rights in 1993, and Court documents showed he was entitled to about $300,000 in royalties from this deal every year, for a number of years. He could have done nothing and remained wealthy.
His mistake was that his subsequent ambition over-reached his ability to manage the business empire he wanted to create. Chuck in some bad weather leading to crop damage and that’s all she wrote.
Had Garrett taken his nest egg and developed a modest winery he may have done well.
As it was his ``empire’’ such as it was, collapsed, and rather than bow out with good grace, he swanned around Adelaide in a Maserati, even writing in emails to associates in late 2003 that he planned to travel to Italy to pick out the finishes for another Maserati and would get a Bentley for his wife’s birthday.
He refused to face the reality that his business had legitimately failed and dragged the process out through the courts for years, hurting many people both financially and emotionally along the way.
It is ironic that these are the facts which are really being kept ``confidential’‘.
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