Turn it up! Peters impresses in Invercargill

It was hard not to be impressed with Racing Minister Winston Peters' address to the industry in Invercargill on Wednesday night.

Change is on its way and racing will be better for it because without it it will die.

Peters pulled no punches in telling the sizeable crowd exactly how the industry is faring. Terminal, in decline and critical were how he summed things up.

But, thankfully, he has a plan to change things.

In the coming days, John Messara will deliver a thoroughbred-focused review to Peters

who will use it to revive the industry.

The question is how and when this change will happen.

Peters dropped some major hints.

Firstly, he was scathing in his assesment of the current legislation and the Racing Ammendment Bill, so we can expect a totally new Racing Act. That opens up a world of possibilities.

Change will be based on prioritising the owner and prize money. With racing pretty much tapped out as far as funds for stakes go, this must mean Peters will facilitate a new revenue stream for racing.

That could mean anything.

In my mind there are two clear ways this could happen.

One could be a sweeping change to the New Zealand Racing Board.

Cutting its running costs is one of the most talked-about topics in racing administration.

Peters was scathing of the way the Racing Act dictates that the racing board must administer racing, and who can be appointed to lead that board, so changes look certain.

He made constant references to racing in New South Wales and its revival. Messara had a major hand in that and he did it by lobbying for key legislative changes. That is a major hint that changes to the way betting is taxed here must be on their way.

No doubt that will include a new way to tax overseas bookmakers for the use of New Zealand betting products.

We can feel pretty confident the new legislation will change racing tax and open new revenue streams and therefore a boost in income. At the very least, racing's existing revenue streams will be boosted.

Are there negatives?

Peters promised all three codes will be better off under his guidance. That is fantastic. But nearly everything he says and the Messara report he commissioned is thoroughbred-focused. Harness and dog racing were only afterthoughts in any of Wednesday's conversations.

That sits uncomfortably with me.

How long it will take for change to be enacted? Judging by the last time Peters made a commitment to help racing it should not be too long.

All things considered it is hard not to be excited about what Messara and Peters could deliver.

Tell me what you think. Happy trails.



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