Peters announces information charge

Winston Peters
Winston Peters
The epic wait for overseas betting operators to pay for the use of New Zealand racing and sports products is finally over.

Racing Minister Winston Peters yesterday announced that the funds the racing industry has desperately sought to boost its coffers would be able to be collected under legislation that will be enacted in July.

The information charge is one part of two Bills the coalition Government will introduce this year to allow amendments to the Racing Act recommended in the Messara Report to be enacted.

"The coalition Government supports the overall intent of the Messara Report and is committed to reforms,'' Peters said.

"As a result, Cabinet has agreed to a stepped approach, with the introduction of two Bills to amend the Racing Act 2003.''

The governing bodies of the racing codes have been desperate to receive the extra funds that an information charge for overseas betting agencies would provide.

Their long wait for the legislative tools to do that looked set to be over when the National government introduced the Racing Amendment Bill at the end of its term.

It passed its first reading in Parliament, but was scrapped by Peters after the release of the Messara Report.

Though the Messara Report promised to revitalise the racing industry and set a blueprint for doubling its profits, racing bodies have been counting the cost of a lack of legislation to collect an information charge.

Officials from the New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB), which administers the TAB and provides funding to the racing codes, have said that costs are around $1 million per month.

The NZRB will be relieved by Peters' move to enact an information charge.

Anticipated funds from the passing of the Racing Amendment Bill was behind their decision to pay out an extra $12million to the three racing codes during the last racing season.

Yesterday's announcement puts the existence and identity of the NZRB in question.

The first of the two Bills proposed that the NZRB be reconstituted as the Racing Industry Transitional Authority (RITA).

The make-up of RITA will be overhauled and its new personnel will have a legislative mandate to make effective change to the shape of the racing industry.

Peters said the second of the two Bills will proceed later this year.

It will continue to enact recommendations in the Messara Report and allow further change recommended by RITA.

"It is essential to have this transitional governance in place. RITA will have a legislative mandate that encompasses change management as well as the current business-as-usual functions and powers of the NZRB,'' Peters said.

"As a result of RITA's work the Government anticipates a second racing amendment Bill to proceed later in 2019.

"It will implement the remaining reforms including post-transition governance.''


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