BLACK SWAN LAKE CONTROVERSY: Explosive quotes revealing Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate’s intentions to be involved in the “expansion” of the Gold Coast Turf Club have been uncovered, casting even more controversy over the possible-conflict-of-interest shroud that has engulfed council’s contentious decision to approve the infill of a public space known as Black Swan Lake, and hand over control to the Gold Coast Turf Club.
by Jake Dunn
In an article published on the Australian horse-racing website Thoroughbred News in 2010, shortly before Tom Tate was successfully elected as mayor of the Gold Coast, he revealed his firm intent to help the club meet its growth expectations.
The news article was derived from a Gold Coast Turf Club official press release and announced the arrival of Tate as a board member and director at the Turf Club, with Tate letting it be known that he was keen to be very hands-on with getting the club to expand.
“These are very exciting times for the Gold Coast Turf Club and I’m very much looking forward to doing all I can to help the Club meet its growth expectations of the next few years … certainly the expansion of the Club is something I am very keen to be actively involved in,” Tate was reported as saying.
According to the report the then Chairman of the Gold Coast Turf Club, Andrew Eggleston, was delighted at Tom’s appointment and what it may bolster for the Club’s future.
Eggleston said at the time of the new director at the club, “His (Tom Tate’s) intimate knowledge of the Gold Coast and its machinations, his extensive business and community contributions over many years and his genuine passion for thoroughbred racing all auger well for some very strong contributions to our decision-making … with Tom’s contributions to the Gold Coast Turf Club, our current forward direction can only be enhanced.”
The Crime and Corruption Commission of Queensland (CCC) announced late in January that it would be conducting an investigation into council and a specific group of sitting councillors on the issue of possible conflicts of interest over the processes and decisions regarding the public man-made lake. The CCC did not specify which councillors it intended to investigate and stressed that their investigation will take a course of presumption of innocence.
It is understood that several Gold Coast councillors including the mayor and deputy mayor have held, or do hold memberships, associations and high-ranking board positions within the club, which could potentially be part of the focus of the CCC’s enquiries.
“Certainly the expansion of the Club is something I am very keen to be actively involved in” – Tom Tate as former director at the Gold Coast Turf Club and now Mayor of the Gold Coast
In a media release, the CCC stated that allegations against the council raised, “a reasonable suspicion of corrupt conduct” and that the matter would, “now be investigated by the CCC.”
Until the CCC’s investigation is concluded it will not be known if any councillors have acted inappropriately or if any will face charges, discipline or otherwise however what is clear, is the mayor’s long-running association with the Turf Club and his own penchant for being part of the horse racing scene.
“His (Tom Tate’s) intimate knowledge of the Gold Coast and its machinations … and his genuine passion for thoroughbred racing all auger well for some very strong contributions … with Tom’s contributions to the Gold Coast Turf Club, our current forward direction can only be enhanced” – Andrew Eggleston, then Chairman of the Gold Coast Turf Club
Blazing Hooves Of Glory
In 2008, Tate, along with several associates including prominent local horse trainer Mel Eggleston, partnered on a venture which purchased a yearling horse at the Magic Millions sales. The horse was aptly named Go The Blaze, presumably in association with Tom Tate’s stint as founder and part-owner of the now-defunct Gold Coast Blaze National Basketball League team.
Go The Blaze raced locally and regionally, racking up 3 wins from 37 starts and retiring after its second-poorest result late in 2014.
“The CEO of the Islander Resort Hotel Group, racehorse owner and long-time Turf Club Member said he’s looking forward to his new role … his horse Go the Blaze races on the Gold Coast – effectively bringing together two of his great professional and personal interests” – Gold Coast Turf Club, 2010 press release
Mayor Tate Partners With Gold Coast Turf Club Director In New Race Horse Venture
Early in 2017 Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate purchased a new race horse as part of a syndicate partnership with several key Gold Coast business and horse racing identities. The partnership includes Luke Henderson, who is a current director and on the board at the Gold Coast Turf Club.
Tate and local entertainment producer Billy Cross head up the ownership of the colt – purchased in January 2017 at the Magic Millions sales for a reported $170,000 – and other venture partners include radio station Hot Tomato boss Hans Torv, restauranteur Simon Gloftis and the brothers of Luke and Andrew Henderson.
In April 2017 it was reported by the Gold Coast Bulletin that Tom Tate entered into the venture on the condition that he be the one to name the horse, and as such it is named Go Gold Coast, which has a notable resemblance to his earlier horse Go The Blaze.
According to the Bulletin’s report, Billy Cross said the name was Tom’s idea and they bought the horse after discussing the idea during the Magic Millions carnival’s opening day polo event.
“The two of us were talking about it and saying let’s get a syndicate of Gold Coasters together and his condition was we had to call it Go Gold Coast,” Mr Cross said.
Gold Coast Deputy Mayor and current Gold Coast Turf Club Director, Donna Gates, is also understood to have potentially been a partner in purchasing a seperate race horse at the same January 2017 Magic Millions auctions and sales.
Lake In Limbo As Filling Operation Stalls
Works to fill in the lake which backs on to the equine precinct and stables at the Gold Coast Turf Club started momentarily a couple of weeks ago, however several weather events have brought heavy rains, causing work to stall and giving the bird and marine life that live there a reprieve – for now.
It is not known if the works will recommence when favourable conditions return or if the CCC investigation will impede works and halt the filling of the lake. In the meantime, the community and environmentalists keep a daily vigil at the lake.
The public lake is home to over 50 avian species including migratory birds subject to international treaties, nesting swans and various water birds. It also holds native turtles, eels and fish.
LiQUiFY would like to make clear that no councillor or mayor have been proven as being involved in any inappropriate or illegal conduct and the CCC investigation mentioned above is ongoing.