The question for decision, as your Commissioners interpret the Commission, is whether the body of persons now in possession of Albion Park under the name "Brisbane Amateur Turf Club" is really a club or society conducting, under a given constitution and set of rules, race meetings for its own benefit, or whether that body of persons is merely an agency, carrying on for Messrs. Nathan and Wren, under the guise of such a club, and under cover of a pretended contract of purchase, the business theretofore conducted by them personally on that racecourse.
The evidence relevant to the issue so raised may be stated as follows:—
The first connection of the Melbourne partnership of Nathan and Wren with Queensland racing was on the purchase in 1909 of Albion Park for £31,000. Thereafter, the firm carried on a racing business there under the name "Albion Park Jockey Club."
Being desirous, as Mr. Wren now admits, of securing a monopoly of metropolitan racing in Brisbane outside Eagle Farm, they proceeded gradually to acquire, partly in their own names and partly in the names or through the agency of various associates, control of all the other courses or projected courses surrounding Brisbane.
Thus, in 1911, the Sandgate Course was bought right out. In 1912, Kedron Park, together with a right to hold night races on the Brisbane Cricket Ground at Woolloongabba, was acquired in the name of Mr. Frederick Thomas, of Melbourne. In 1915, the agreement already referred to was made with the trustees of Bundamba. In 1919, a controlling interest was acquired in the company owning Doomben. In 1920, a lease was secured over Goodna by two gentlemen, one of whom was Mr. Lawrence, manager of Kedron Park. In 1922, Strathpine was bought outright by Mr. T. G. Jones, of Melbourne, a son-in-law of Mr. Nathan. Finally, in November, 1922, a controlling interest was secured in Coorparoo, the only course then remaining outside the combine.
Thus, by the end of 1922, the desired monopoly was completely attained, and the monopolists had nothing further to fear except from a possible interference by Parliament.
During the years covered by these transactions, which were carried through without publicity and screened by the retention of the names of clubs as operating the various courses, the public and the Press had more than a suspicion of what was going on.
Resentment at the alleged operations of Southern racing syndicates found expression as early as 1914 in a motion tabled in Parliament for the suppression of proprietary racing and in numerous articles in the Press. These indications of public feeling in no way deterred Messrs. Nathan and Wren from consolidating their position. The Press attacks became intensified on its becoming known, late in 1922, that Coorparoo, as well as all the other courses, had passed under the control of some Southern syndicate.
With the alleged object of retaining for the racing public of Brisbane some proportion of the vast profit believed to be derived by Melbourne interests from Albion Park and the other allied concerns, Mr. Dash, then proprietor of a weekly newspaper, in conjunction with one of the leading dailies, commenced simultaneously a strong agitation against proprietary racing and a movement for the formation of a new racing club. This was early in January, 1923.