Find Books

This only searches the 12,000+ titles on this website, not the 400,000+ books in our shops!

Prince and the Premier, The: The Story of Perce Galea, Bob Askin and the Others who Gave Organised Crime Its Start in Australia

David Hickie


1 in stock

SCARCE About the role of Perce Galea, a gambling entity, and Liberal Premier, Bob Askin, in the start of Australian organised crime. Covers prominent persons who were discovered to have been part of corrupt behaviour in NSW.
536 p. : ill., ports. ; 22 cm. #220422/200722

(Note: Condition is only an “Acceptable Used Copy”. Complete, tight and solid, but showing various signs of age and wear.)

Galea, Perce. | Askin, Robert William, Sir, 1909-1981. | Organized crime — Australia. | Organized crime — New South Wales.
galea, perce, askin, bob, btlc, ballarat trades hall, ballarat trades and labour council, politicians – premiers – nsw, crime – organised, corruption, gambling.

The Prince of Punters in Australian horse racing during the 50’s and 60’s was undoubtedly Perce Galea.

Perce Galea was known to have obliged fellow Aussie punters with a flood of banknotes when his own colt, Eskimo Prince won the Golden Slipper Stakes in 1964, almost causing a riot.

Perce Galea expertise at picking lucky horses made him $422,952 richer by the time he called it a day after having bought and sold many horses. Although known to be warm-hearted and friendly, the ‘Prince’ was feared by bookmakers for his uncanny knack of picking the right horses.

Percival Galea, known as Perce, was the son of a railway fettler born on 26 th October 1910 in Malta. After immigrating to Australia around 1912, the family settled at Woolloomooloo in Sydney.

Perce took on odd jobs as a teenager as a newsboy and later as a milkman, after which he found employment as a driver with the New South Wales Fresh Food & Ice Co. Ltd.

The urge to back horses began during his early years with a customer and horse owner Rodney Dangar urging Perce to bet Peter Pan in the 1934 Melbourne Cup.

Richer by £150, Galea’s foot was firmly planted on the racetracks.

After his marriage, Perce Galea continued to work as a wharf labourer, and operated as a registered bookmaker at the Wentworth Park greyhound races.

His connections with a notorious criminal Sid Kelly and Samuel Lee made him invest £2500 in Lee Enterprise Pty Ltd, soon becoming a director of the firm’s baccarat schools around 1949. Perce also worked as a host and staff supervisor at Sammy Lee’s restaurant.

Soon, Perce Galea went on to become co-proprietor and manager of the Roslyn Social Club, Elizabeth Bay, catering to a well-heeled at the club that claimed to only conduct legal card games. However, a police raid on 22 March 1953 saw the arrest of 46 gamblers from the club while Galea was fined £75.

Later, with co-operation from the police he was able to set up expensive gaming machines like roulette wheels. No further trouble came his way except for being penalized for being a tax defaulter and concealing his income.

From the mid-1950s Perce Galea ran the Victoria Club, Kings Cross, a casino with blackjack, roulette, craps, and baccarat, with plenty of free food and alcohol. The casino was later renamed the Forbes Club in 1967. Being an astute businessman, Galea’s clients included a list of celebrities including politicians and sportsmen who were entertained by hostesses who also doubled as escorts.

Among the clients were hundreds of American servicemen on leave from the Vietnam War, which prompted Galea and his team, Eric O’Farrell, Ronald Lee, and Reginald Andrews to open many more casinos including the Bridge Club at Double Bay.

A £12,000 lottery in 1957 brought Perce Galea out of financial difficulties which made him seriously turn to the racetrack. His first racehorse as an owner was Sugarfoot which he bought and sold in 1961. Despite doctors’ orders after a heart attack in 1962, he continued to wager large sums.

One of Perce Galea most successful horses was Eskimo Prince, which won the Sydney Turf Club 1964 Golden Slipper Stakes, a race after which an ecstatic Galea threw money to his fellow punters. Eskimo Prince brought the Prince of Punters much luck with wins in the Rosehill Guineas and Sires Produce Stakes.

A well groomed Perce Galea always stood out at the racecourse, notorious for betting as much as £25,000 on a race. Other racehorses to add to his fortune were Count Rajan, Indian Prince, and Sir Serene.

Being a staunch Catholic, Galea offered much to his Church in Sydney. He was also known to be a philanthropist, hosting annual parties for crippled children. As a sportsman, Galea was a handball champion. Luck seemed to shine on him in many ways, where he even shared a $200,000 Sydney Opera House lottery prize with his family.

As a businessman, horse owner, and punter, Perce Galea was richer by $422,952 by the time he died of coronary heart disease at St. Vincent ‘s Hospital, Darlinghurst, on 14 August 1997.
Underworld figure Bruce Galea, once reputed to be the biggest illegal gambler in the country with corrupt connections to the highest echelons of the police force, has died.

The colourful gambling identity cooled his heels in Sydney’s Long Bay jail for two years after refusing to give evidence at the 1995 Wood royal commission into police corruption.
Corrupt police told the royal commission that for years Galea had been paying them $400 a week to turn a blind eye to his illegal casinos operating at Dixon Street, Haymarket, and Darlinghurst Road, Kings Cross.

One police officer was allowed to give evidence using a codename after telling commission investigators that Galea would kill him if he gave adverse evidence about him. He said he was paid to leak information to Galea about police interest in Galea’s illegal casinos.

Galea refused to give evidence and was jailed for contempt in July 1995. He was only released when the royal commission officially finished.

In 1993 he had also been a star turn when the Independent Commission Against Corruption examined links between organised crime and corrupt police. The corruption watchdog heard that he was “the biggest illegal gaming operator in the state”.

Galea steadfastly denied that he was paying off police or that there was any illegal gambling in his premises.

When asked how he could pay $1600-a-week rent when his weekly profit was only $1400, he replied: “There’s plenty of ways to skin a cat, there’s plenty of ways to make a profit.”
He then detailed his exorbitant price list: $5 for coffee, $7 a sandwich and a 25 per cent surcharge on food brought into the club.

Galea was also named in Parliament as a close associate of crime boss George Freeman who bought Galea’s Yowie Bay mansion “Dallas” in 1978 for $350,000 – in cash.

Galea was the son of the equally notorious illegal gambling tsar, Perce Galea. In his book The Prince and the Premier,” author David Hickie outlined the corrupt relationship between then Liberal premier Sir Robert Askin and the prince of the punt – Perce Galea.

Following Askin’s death in 1981, Hickie made the sensational claim that Galea had been paying Askin $100,000 a year as well as substantial bribes to senior police officers which had allowed illegal casinos to channel enormous profits into organised crime.
Like his father, Bruce Galea also paid substantial bribes to police.

In 1982 the Police Tribunal investigated allegations of corruption involving the deputy commissioner of police, Bill Allen, whose lifestyle far exceeded his income.

There had already been raised eyebrows when Allen was appointed to the deputy’s job by then premier Neville Wran, leapfrogging a cast of more senior officers. Allen once gave an interview in which he dismissed the suggestion that organised crime was running SP betting and Sydney’s illegal casinos.

“What is organised crime?” scoffed Allen. “If you have three fellows who plan an armed robbery, then isn’t that organised and a crime?”

Apart from Allen’s association with crime boss Abe Saffron, and his acceptance of free overseas trips to Macau and Las Vegas courtesy of illegal gaming interests, Allen was also forced to explain his gambling winnings, including a winning bet with Bruce Galea.

Former Deputy Police Commissioner Bill Allen was jailed in 1991.
Former Deputy Police Commissioner Bill Allen was jailed in 1991.

In 1981, Galea was working as a bookmaker when Allen won $4200 betting on a 20-1 longshot named How Apparent.

Galea’s betting ledger showed the deputy commissioner’s winning bet was the last he had taken on the race in question. This was a common technique used by bookmakers to help criminals “explain” large amounts of cash.

Allen claimed that he had never heard of this practice. He was allowed to resign from the force but was later jailed for trying to bribe a licensing officer.

Galea’s family had mastered other techniques of miraculously winning lots of money. Sources told the Herald that the Galeas would launder dirty money by buying winning lottery tickets after paying the actual winner a 10 per cent bonus for their lottery ticket.

“I guess we were just born lucky,” said Perce’s wife Beryl on winning the $200,000 Opera House lottery in 1975.

The Galea family had not been so lucky the previous year when Bruce’s then-wife Patricia, 25, a former model, had her throat slashed and was then shot in a West Hollywood apartment in Los Angeles. Another flatmate also died in the robbery gone wrong. It has previously been reported that it was known that Mrs Galea was wealthy. The killers escaped with diamond rings, $400 in cash and two mink coats. They missed $6000 Mrs Galea had hidden in the freezer.

In 1966, Bruce Galea’s late brother Clive, a solicitor, was jailed for eight years for misappropriating thousands of dollars from his firm’s trust account.

On Twitter, racing identity Robbie Waterhouse recalled Perce Galea throwing bundles of cash into the crowd when his horse won and that “Bruce himself was noted for his kindness, both in loans (‘slips’) and favours.”

Additional Information

AuthorDavid Hickie
Number of pages536 p. : ill., ports. ; 22 cm.
PublisherAngus & Robertson
Year Published1985
Binding Type


Book Condition

Acceptable Used copy

Elizabeth’s Bookshops have been one of Australia’s premier independent book dealers since 1973. Elizabeth’s family-owned business operates four branches in Perth CBD, Fremantle (WA), and Newtown (NSW). All orders are dispatched within 24 hours from our Fremantle Warehouse.

All items can be viewed at Elizabeth’s Bookshop Warehouse, 23 Queen Victoria Street, Fremantle WA.
Click & Collect (no postage cost!) is available at all branches.