74. DEPUTY LEADER.
|"I was nominated as pilot and assistant to Blakeley".|
It comes as no surprise to find controversy surrounding the role of Deputy Leader of the first C.A.G.E. expedition. Blakeley named George Sutherland, "a practical goldminer and happy fellow", as Deputy Leader and Coote named himself. The Company records do not mention the position and Idriess pointedly referred to Coote as the pilot, as does Bailey in his 'History of Lasseter's Reef'.
Given the haphazard structure of the Company it is possible that there was no Deputy to Blakeley, and in any event Coote would have been an unfortunate choice, his ditzy personality notwithstanding, he only travelled with the ground party for a little over a fortnight, and during that time exacerbated disputes rather than diffused them. Also it would be highly unlikely that either Blakeley and in particular Bailey would choose Coote, he was not a member of the inner circle of Bailey's A. W. U. cronies. Bailey being deeply suspicious would not trust Coote's loud mouth and most likely would have nominated staunch fellow unionist, Sutherland, as the Deputy.
Coote got his chance at leadership when he took over the remnants of the company from Blakeley at the end September 1930, Coote made a disaster of the position, getting himself stranded at Ayer's Rock and instigating a very expensive search. Yet he persisted, in 1967 he wrote to the Department of the Interior regarding the prospecting situation in Central Australia and mentioned himself as Deputy Leader of the 1930 expedition.