A number of emails have landed in the bunker about blue-chip stockbroking firm JB Were and this
so-called “cult” which has been banned from the old Murdoch family Trinity Presbyterian
Church in the affluent Melbourne suburb of Camberwell.
Whilst “cult” is an emotive word with all sort of connotations, it
“Fellowship” did indeed involve former JB Were chairman Bruce Teele,
although it is unclear if he is one of the 15 who were banned last week.
An extract from Morag Zwartz’s book, Fractured Families:
the story of a Melbourne church cult, is available on this Sydney
Anglicans website and includes the following:
Peter Corney looks back over 24 years of ministry at St
Hilary’s where he nurtured some of the most eminent Fellowship men –
Bruce Teele, Neville Langford, John Neil.
Morag’s husband, Barney Zwartz, is the journalist who broke the story of the cult being banned from the Camberwell congregation in The Age last Saturday, but there no mention of nearby St Hilary’s, an Anglican church in John St, Kew.
Crikey has been told that a number of senior JB Were figures do attend the Trinity Presbyterian church along
with Bruce Teele and I saw Bruce there when walking past one Sunday morning in 2003.
However, Bruce also has a connection to St Hilary’s which goes back at
least 55 years. In his time he was a Sunday School teacher, and in fact
was in Stanisforth Ricketson’s Sunday Bible class. This was the
connection that got Bruce into stockbroking and eventually made him the
one of the doyens of the Melbourne establishment for 20 years, handling
big companies such as Amcor, BHP, News Corp, NAB and privatisations
including Telstra and the Commonwealth Bank.
Bruce was even a regular preacher at St Hilary’s and at times was both
a Church Warden and Vestryman. A close friend was Murray Neil, also of
JB Were, and his younger brother John Neil is named as a Fellowship man
in Morag Zwartz’s book.
Crikey hears the Fellowship has involved a number of JB Were
executives over the years, as well as a group of Camberwell doctors, based around one
The whole thing has been incredibly secretive, not unlike the
“Australia 2000 Club” which Bruce supposedly set up in the 1980s to
protect establishment companies from the marauding entrepreneurs. This
involved a series of defensive cross-shareholdings between companies
such as Amcor and Mayne Nickless.
JB Were was partly bought out by Goldman Sachs in 2004 and it would be
interesting to know what the Wall Street heavies make of all this. One
of the first things they did was abandoned Bruce Teele’s policy of
refusing to work for gambling companies. Cult or no cult, Teele was a
noble man for taking such a stand, but his world is being rocked right
now by developments over the past few days.