Where is the Con?

By Mr Bill Collyer


Where is the Con ?


Hi all, this is a parable and a true story.


About 30 years ago, when lap tops were something only the technocrats possessed, I was the President of the Range Rover 4wd Club in Brisbane. This was a time when 4WD’s were used on the land and had not as yet reached the Recreational Vehicle stage so these vehicles were the object of much technical debate about their capabilities. At that time the Range Rover was considered the vehicle used by white shoe pansies who worked on Queen Street, they were not believed to be tough enough for this country. Now I can honestly say that the RR was a long, long way ahead technically of their competitors from Japan and the US and the best stock vehicle on the market. Thus we had several problems, we had to convince the other vehicle clubs of the RR’s capability and attract more people into taking up 4WD driving. So I had an inspiration, an epiphany.


We would hold a competition amongst all the Clubs in Brisbane (about 5 then) who would field 3 vehicle teams and compete for the first Junction View Range Rover Club Trophy. Our Club set to work with a will designing and building a series of courses to sort out the “best” 4WD. There were in fact 5 courses, a Hill Climb, an Obstacle Course, a Rock Climb, a very muddy Bog Hole (the “Bog Hole from Hell”) and a Speed Course. It became evident to me quite early on that the other Clubs would be fielding highly modified vehicles – big wheels, big engines etc whereas in our Club no one was prepared to cut up/modify their $200,000 (in todays prices) RR. Which meant of course that no matter how we set up the courses to suit the RR, there was going to be very little chance of winning.


This problem caused me to lose many nights sleep until I hit upon a solution – we would write some software so that I could weight the results of the events as I saw fit, to do this I enlisted the help of a trusty programmer from the IT section of the Uni. Now I knew that the obstacle course was a real problem for other 4WD’s if the corners were kept very tight so that they had to do some thing like a 10 point turn to get around. On the other hand the Suzukis and the ‘hot’ 4WD’s would murder us on the Hill Climb and Speed events. So I asked Graham (my equivalent of the Permanent Head of Services Australia) to write me a program which we would use to calculate points for each Club for each event and give running totals. I also asked him to weight each event and to allow me to set the weights as I wished.


The Event was a huge success with the Trophy being duly awarded to the winning Club President (ME !!).


How could that be ? Well when you can set the program to do what you wish then you can get the results you want – sound familiar? If you think that sound like Robodebt you are absolutely correct.


How did I get away with it? Now I made it clear to everyone throughout the 2 days that we would win and that the Contestants were being had but how could that be?  They could all see that the results of each event as they were typed into the computer which produced a Printout with the Club totals and position – since it was a computer it must be right. It was many months before another Club worked out how they had been had not withstanding the fact that everyone knew the RR Club was cheating. Was I declared a villain and pursued for punishment – of course not, we handed the event onto the Club who came second and for many, many years it was a very special event in Queensland.


Does this make me just another Scott Morrison ? I do not think so and here is why. Firstly I told everyone they were being conned. Secondly I invited them to find out how. Thirdly my objective was to put 4WD events in the public domain to be enjoyed. And lastly I do not think that there was one person there who did not declare it the best weekend ever, and that included Speed Bump.


Thanks for listening,



PS Yes I know who was Speed Bump? Well on the Saturday night we had a bush dance at which a great deal of alcohol was consumed. One of the Suzuki team staggered out of the dance and fell asleep under his Suzuki. His mate came out later and reversed over the top of him. A quick trip to hospital declared just a few bruises but of course he got a nickname – Speed Bump.