Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Fraser, Douglas Martin (1888–1968)

by Margaret Kowald

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

Douglas Martin Fraser (1888-1968), pastoralist and company director, was born on 9 December 1888 at Malvern, Melbourne, second of three sons of (Sir) Simon Fraser, squatter, and his second wife Anna Bertha, née Collins. Fond of cricket and football, Douglas was educated at Melbourne Church of England Grammar School and Trinity College, University of Melbourne (LL.B., 1911). On 3 March 1913 he was admitted to the Bar. At Tamrookum station, Beaudesert, Queensland, on 10 February 1915 he married with Anglican rites his cousin Marion Dorothea Jane (d.1963), daughter of R. M. Collins. They built their first home at Mundoolun, on the Collins's 12,000 acre (4856 ha) property near Beaudesert. Enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force on 7 March 1918, Fraser reached Egypt in July and briefly served with the 5th Light Horse Regiment in Palestine. He was discharged on 21 March 1919 in Egypt, then returned to Queensland and his pastoral responsibilities.

In 1919-36 Fraser was managing director of the family company, John Collins & Sons, which, from the 1860s to 1941, owned fourteen stations. He was also successively a director, managing director and chairman of Collins, White & Co. Pty Ltd which owned Eulolo, Beaudesert and Strathfield stations until 1968. His most significant involvement was with the North Australian Pastoral Co.; his uncle, William Collins, had been an original partner in that concern. Fraser was a director (1932-68), managing director (1936-56) and chairman (1936-67) of N.A.P. The company owned Alexandria cattle-station in the Northern Territory and, during Fraser's time, purchased several Queensland properties (Marion Downs, Monkira, Coorabulka and Glenormiston). A director (1924) and chairman (1951) of Moreheads Ltd, in 1956 he administered its amalgamation with Elder, Smith & Co. Ltd, of whose Queensland board he became chairman. He was, additionally, chairman of the Queensland Meat Export Co., a director of the Australian Stock Breeders Co. and a member of the advisory council of the General Accident, Fire & Life Assurance Corporation Ltd.

Known as 'DM', he had an enormous capacity for work. He distrusted machinery, and was no judge of cattle and horses. His strength lay in the legal training that enabled him to negotiate favourable technical conditions for his companies' properties, as in the case of proving the N.A.P.'s 'residency' in the Northern Territory which brought taxation concessions. Five ft 7 ins (170 cm) tall, Fraser was forceful, arrogant and pigheaded—a dynamic person 'who could tell you a lie with a twinkle in his eye'. Nevertheless, he could also be warm hearted and generous, and was remembered as 'always a good touch for broke ringers and drovers' recovering after a binge in the 'big smoke'. He commuted weekly to Brisbane, but also contributed to his local community as a Beaudesert shire councillor and member of the hospital board. Fraser was president (1947) of the Queensland Club, chairman of the Society of St Andrew and a member for thirty-seven years of the board of Emmanuel College at the University of Queensland.

Survived by his two daughters and one of his two sons, he died on 16 May 1968 at Mundoolun and was buried in the family cemetery. His nephew Malcolm Fraser was prime minister of Australia in 1975-83.

Select Bibliography

  • M. Kowald and W. R. Johnston, You Can't Make It Rain (Brisb, 1992)
  • Brisbane Courier, 9 Jan, 15 Feb 1915
  • Beaudesert Times, 12 Feb 1915
  • Queensland Country Life, 14 May 1959, 23 May 1968
  • Fraser family papers (privately held)
  • North Australian Pastoral Co Pty Ltd records (Brisbane).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Margaret Kowald, 'Fraser, Douglas Martin (1888–1968)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/fraser-douglas-martin-10240/text18105, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 27 December 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

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