The Strange, Strange Story of Phillip Wearne: Part Four

Continuing the story of obscure Australian comic book artist Phillip Wearne.

Part Four: Wearne hits a money maker and meets the Scientologists

It was in Melbourne in the early 1950s that Wearne became attached to the Australian Labor Party, working as a Publicity Officer.  Nobody could ever clarify exactly what Wearne did for the ALP, or why he was drawing a salary, and Wearne himself, when asked, was evasive.  What is known is that Wearne had found the perfect get rich quick scheme, with minimal effort and almost no outlay.  As the money came flooding in he set up house in Toorak, bought a Jaguar and a striking white MG and dressed himself in expensive clothing.  The way Wearne made money is still a confusing web, even today.

Wearne set up a company called the Australian Trade Union Press.  The ATUP drew up and accepted contracts from unions all over the country and produced the official union newspaper for three state branches of the ALP; The New Age in Queensland, The Western Sun for Western Australia and South Australia’s The Herald. Wearne would then sell advertising space in the newspapers that he produced, charging both the unions and the ALP, and filled the rest of the newspapers with editorial content.  Wearne was pulling in an amazing £500 weekly, although that amount would rise considerably and Wearne himself would deny it. When it came to the union movement what Wearne did next was incredible.

He was able to tap into the goodwill that each union had, managing to convert an otherwise intangible asset into a money making machine. He approached the unions, offered to produce their publications free of charge; all they had to do was provide the editorial, gratis.  Wearne then sold advertising space to interested parties.  As the unions had members who would automatically buy the newspapers, he was guaranteed a sizable profit before the presses ran. As with the ALP, Wearne would insist on being called that union’s Publicity Officer, thus guaranteeing him an official title, removed from that as a publisher. The key clause that he wrote into each contract with each union was that only he could speak on its behalf and accept the many calls from salesmen who wanted to buy advertising space. In this manner he was able to open shop in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, with each city having a different company set up with the bulk of the shares in Wearne’s name and a token share in the name of another person Wearne nominated.  At his height his publishing arm produced the following: The Retort, The Voice, The Gasworker, Solidarity, The Bricklayer, The Plasterer, The Journal, The F.E.D. Journal and Reality. All of these were produced for various Unions.  The potential was almost limitless.  For example, Queensland branch of the ALP had their publication, The New Age, taken over by Wearne with an established fortnightly distribution of 15,000 copies.  In addition to the publishing and advertising, Wearne also controlled the distribution of all his publications.  Life was looking up for him, and he was finally, in his own eyes, ready to settle down.

Wearne married in 1955
Wearne met Joyce Bower, a recent divorcee with a young son, when she came to work for his company in 1954.  Joyce had married a man named Fred at the age of 22 but the union didn’t last, despite the pair having a child, Phillip, who was born in 1951.  Joyce separated from Fred six years later, obtaining a divorce in 1953.  Finding herself a single mother with no form of support, Joyce went looking for work and was hired by Wearne’s company in Sydney.  In November, 1955, the pair married, with Wearne now describing himself as a Company Director.  The following month Wearne moved back to Adelaide.  He remained until October, 1956, when he moved, with Joyce and her son, Phillip, back to Sydney.  Wearne had itchy feet. He had no sooner than he settled back in Sydney when he was back in Adelaide, this time for a short visit.  Wearne returned to Sydney until May 1957 when he moved to Melbourne.  Wearne would divide his time between Melbourne and Sydney, leaving Joyce to live alone in Sydney.  The continued absences meant that young Phillip lived with his maternal grandmother for much of his childhood. Something had to give, and it would.

Even more important for Wearne is that, while in Melbourne, he joined the Hubbard Association of Scientologists International in 1958. He also set himself up with another perk of being rich; a mistress.

It’s highly likely that Wearne saw Scientology as yet another way to get rich quick with minimal effort. In this he was to be greatly disappointed.  The various techniques that the scientologists engaged didn’t sit well with Wearne.  After one processing session he began to hallucinate that he had been caught in a web and devoured by a forty foot spider as a child.  What didn’t help Wearne was that he was continuing to drink and had begun to use drugs as a form of release.  Whatever happened to Wearne during his time with the church is a matter of contention.  For Wearne it wasn’t the processing as much as the electro shock treatment that he alleged was given to him. No matter, by 1962 Wearne was done with Scientology as a religion, but he was only just starting on it as a target and cause.

Wearne began the first of many failed publishing ventures with Reality. Reality was a free publication aimed at members of the ALP, but only lasted eight months before it folded.  Reality was a forerunner to his next publication, Probe and both newspapers covered very similar ground, controlling workers, brainwashing and mind control.  As with Reality, Probe was issued free of charge, only this time to as many Federal Government offices that he could get to as he wanted everyone and anyone to read his thoughts.  The first issue of Probe, published in July 1961, contained a series of sometime rambling articles about management techniques and staff retention.  However it was an article that Wearne wrote about security checking using L Ron Hubbard’s E-Meter that drew attention to him from the highest spy agency in the country, The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation – ASIO for short.

After reading Probe some agents at ASIO toyed with the idea of obtaining an E-Meter for their own use but dismissed it.  Instead they began to investigate Wearne and placed him under surveillance. Using an undisclosed source within the Scientologists they quickly ascertained that Wearne was acting alone and they quickly disassociated themselves with Probe.  This went against a disclaimer that Wearne included on the rear of the newspaper, stating that, “Probe Magazine acknowledges the assistance and copyrights of the Hubbard Communications office and its Trustees for Technical Information made available.”  This led ASIO to come to a conclusion, that being that Wearne was clearly associated with Hubbard.  They needed to establish the link further, so surveillance was stepped up.  In addition to his divorce, ASIO were checking into him, he was missing his court ordered payments to Joyce and a warrant of possession was about to be issued against him.  Things would only get crazier for Wearne.

Wearne always needed money. His marriage came to a crashing stop in 1961.  Wearne, now with three companies under his control, all haemorrhaging cash, told Joyce in February, 1961, that he was heading to Melbourne for three weeks in order to oversee his business ventures there.  He came back for six nights, left again for Melbourne, where he bought a house, and returned to Sydney where he bought another house, all without telling Joyce.  He moved into a house and set himself up.  It came undone when Joyce, in company with un-named friends, attended Wearne’s new residence to find a Wearne in residence, clothed only in a dressing gown and a naked woman in his bed – it was his mistress.  The woman gave her name as Margaret Mead, but her real name was Jillaine ‘Kanga’ Queitzsch.

Jillaine Quietzsch (1947)
Jillaine Isabel Queitzsch, of German descent, was born in Brisbane in 1928.  She came from a well off family and managed to become somewhat of a socialite while still a teenager.  She lived in Europe while in her early teens and was frequently mentioned in Brisbane newspapers, described as being a striking beauty.  She spent her early 20s travelling the globe, managing to meet the Queen while living in London in 1953.  She was in New York at the age of 25, before heading back to London where she remained until 1957.  Once back in Australia she settled at Kangaroo Point, Queensland, and started a career as a model.  Intelligent, attractive and vivacious, Wearne was immediately smitten.

Wearne didn’t deny the charge of adultery; indeed he drafted and signed a confession on the spot, stating that he had met Queitzsch in 1960 and begun an affair with her, eventually bringing her to Sydney after the first three week Melbourne trip in February and setting up house with her.  Other reports have Wearne marrying Queitzsch as early as 1958, but Wearne was still married to Joyce at that point.  Still, Wearne couldn’t care less what was going on, he allowed Joyce to file for divorce – it was just another battle to be fought and he had bigger fish to fry.

The divorce proceedings began in October, 1961 when Joyce claimed in court that Wearne had deserted her and left her without any income.  Even more damning was the charges that Wearne was earning more than £5,000 a week, if not more, from the ALP alone.  The list of publications that Wearne was associated with and making money from read like a Who’s Who of Australian Unions.  They included;
Australian Labour Party
The Federated Engine Drivers' and Firemen's Association
The Gas Employees Industrial Union
The Leather and Allied Trades Union (Glue and Gelatine Section)
The Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Draughtsmen of Australia
The shop Assistants and Warehouse Employees' Federation of Australia
The A.L.P. and Trade Union Co-Ordinating Committee
The Federated Municipal and Shire Council Employees' Union of Australia
The Hospital Employees' Association of New South Wales
The Australian Builders' Labourers’ Federation (N.S.W. Branch)
The Rubber, Cable and Plastic Workers' Union (N.S.W. Branch)
The Club Managers' Association of New South Wales
The “Herald” The Official Organ of The Australian Labour Party (S.A. Branch)
The United Trades and Labor Council of South Australia
The Labor Day Celebration Committee of South Australia
The Australian Tramway and Motor Omnibus Employees' Association
The Australian Railways Union (S.A. Branch)
The Transport Workers' Union (S. A. Branch)
The Federated Engine Drivers' and Firemen's Association (S.A. Branch)
The Federated Gas Employees' Industrial Union (S. A. Branch)
Australian Government Workers' Association Federated Clerks' Union
Australian Builders' Labourers’ Federation (S. A. Branch)
Operative Bricklayers, Tilers and Tuckpointers' Society of South Australia
The Plasterers' Society of South Australia
The Carpenter's and Joiners' Union (S.A. Branch)
The Baking Trades Union (S.A. Branch)
The Shop Assistants' and Warehouse Employees' Federation of Australia (S.A. Branch)
Australian Labour Party (Queensland Branch)
The Boilermakers' Union (Queensland Branch)
The Hospital Employees' Union (Queensland Branch)
The Amalgamated Food Union (Queensland Branch)
Australian Labor Party (Western Australia Branch)
The Australasian Meat Industry Employees' Union West. Aust. Branch)
The Australasian Society of Engineers (W.A. Branch)
The Western Australian Timber Industry Industrial Union of Workers
The Hospital Employees' Federation (W.A. Branch)
The Electrical Trades Union (W.A. Branch)
The Clothing Trades Union (W.A. Branch)
The Painters' Union (W.A. Branch)
The Water and Sewerage Employees' Union of Western Australia
The Transport, Timer and Building Trades Union Committee (Hobart)
The Federated Engine Drivers' and Firemen's Association (Tasmania Branch)

Wearne confesses to adultery, 1961
Wearne was the official Publicity Officer for each branch and union, was producing a newspaper for each and making extraordinary amounts of money for the time.

Joyce began to unravel Wearne’s business dealings in court. “I say that the Respondent received the gross proceeds of all advertising space sold in the publications of the abovementioned organisations amount to an average of £5,000. per week and more,” Joyce claimed in her affidavit.  “These moneys were banked in the name of the Respondent and he paid the expenses of distribution of the expenses of printing and producing the said publications were borne by Labour Newspapers (South Australia) Limited of which the Respondent was the majority shareholder and governing Director. The accounts for printing were rendered to the Respondent who paid to the account of' the said Company moneys from his own accounts to meet these charges.  From the gross amounts received in respect of each publication as before mentioned, the Respondent paid to the organisation concerned an amount equivalent to 2 ½ percent of such gross amount.  The balance of the gross amount so received was retained by the Respondent and after payment of the before mentioned expenses and outgoings the balance represented his profit from the said publicity business so carried on by him.”

In short, Wearne was laundering money through his many businesses, moving cash from location to location in order to hide his true income and minimise his tax.  The court, and in particular the Australian Taxation Office, took particular interest in this turn of events, particularly as Wearne was already crying poor and had stopped paying tax a few years earlier.

Wearne, it was claimed, had the capacity to earn upwards of £50,000 per year.  The average annual wage for 1961 in Australia was just over £3,100.  The houses that Wearne had bought were around £5,000 each.  Joyce was existing on £20 per week and, to add insult to injury, Wearne wrote her a letter to inform her that he was selling the house she was currently living in.  Joyce wanted justice and asked for custody of Phillip (Wearne's step-son), maintenance in the form of £50 per week, the house that Wearne was offering for sale, along with its contents and all costs.

The beginning of the end,
Joyce files for divorce
from Wearne
Wearne wasn’t going to give in without a fight.  Firstly he denied the figures that Joyce was stating.  According to Wearne during, “1956 and November 1960 he carried on business on his own account as a Publicity Officer for Labour Party and Trade Union Publications and that his net weekly income varied. At no time was it £1,000. His taxable income for the year ended 30th June 1959 was £4,092. His taxable income for the year ended 30th June 1960 was £1,784. In November 1960 his said business was purchased by Australian Trade Union Press Proprietary Limited. Since 26th March 1961 the Respondents only means of livelihood has been £300 per week which he has received on account of the purchase price payable by Australian Trade Union Press Proprietary Limited. Such weekly sum of £300 has been applied to meet the mortgage payments as aforesaid and £2,000 has been loaned back to the said company to keep its bank account in credit.”  Despite the claims of large amounts of money coming in, Wearne was crying poor. Everything he owned, from his houses to his clothes to his cars, the Jaguar and the MG were owned by the company. Further muddying the waters, Wearne sold his publicity business, which controlled the accounts of the unions, to his parent company the Australian Trade Union Press, and was merely drawing a weekly salary, paid to him by himself.

As he was struggling, or so he claimed, Wearne’s counter offer was insulting – no house, no furniture, custody of Phillip, £3.50 per week and each party would pay their own costs. Wearne then instructed his lawyer to draw up papers selling the family house for £500 to his own company, Australian Trade Union Press.  Upon learning this Joyce immediately applied to the court for an order preventing the sale. It was granted.

ASIO find Wearne
One another front, ASIO found it hard to believe the Scientologists when they said that Wearne, and Probe, had no connection with them.  ASIO were already investigating the organisation in Australia and this was more attention than they wanted.  More inquiries, this time to Wearne’s printer, Southdown Press, revealed nothing they didn’t already know, but in January 1962 ASIO decided that Wearne was a loose cannon.  “There is little doubt that Wearne is certainly a go-getter,” read a memo from the Regional ASIO Director of Victoria, “one might say a con-man, who is prepared to approach anybody or anyone if he can see a chance of making a bit for himself.” The Scientologists had also worked that out and promptly threw him out of their organisation.  Wearne was ready to fight that battle as well.

TOMORROW: Wearne fight Scientology and ASIO, and loses. His final years.


Loscha said…
Hi Danny,

I have some ephemera that clearly indicates Kanga was employed by the Church of Scientology for a time.
Would you like me to sent you a copy?



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