Turn it up! Tumult in the industry

NZ First leader Winston Peters. Photo: Getty Images
Winston Peters. Photo: Getty Images
Yesterday was a significant day for the future structure of the racing industry as administrators fronted the transport and infrastructure select committee at Parliament to present submissions on the Racing Industry Bill.

Of course, the significance of yesterday will depend on how the pleas of those administrators are considered by the committee.

How wide-ranging the submissions are and exactly which groups and individuals have made them is not known as they have not been published.

But members of the Southern thoroughbred industry certainly made full use of the opportunity to present their views.

Gallop South, represented by Murray Acklin and Jo Gordon, spent more than 15 minutes in front of the select committee. Beaumont Racing Club president Phil Williams also took the opportunity to present his views.

Heads of the three racing codes also spoke to the select committee.

The most impressive part of that was the three entities combined in doing so. That is an encouraging sign that they are willing to work together to push for the best outcome for racing, especially considering some of the debate on how the Messara Report, the Racing Amendment Act and this Bill may affect each code and possibly favour one over another.

It also reflects how badly those who wrote the Bill have got it.

Clearly the codes are upset and want to seize the opportunity to make changes to it.

Here are a few snippets of yesterday’s presentations that caught my attention:

Gallop South representative Murray Acklin on closing and selling country race tracks:

"What, of course, would be lost is the thousands of people that attend these country race meetings once a year.

"If I could just give you an example of what happens in late December-early January in Otago.

"We have the Kurow Jockey Club that race once a year, who every year have to put the ‘full’ sign up because you can’t get another car in ... the same is duplicated at Waikouaiti, [and] in Central Otago...

"There is nothing to be gained in transferring those meetings to a large metropolitan area where there is no people and no interest in racing."

Beaumont Racing Club president Phil Williams on country clubs moving to metropolitan tracks:

"I can see the need for some clubs to move, but I think it should be done like we [Beaumont] did, on a voluntary basis.

"And they will find themselves that they have to move because they can’t afford to stay where they are.

"... the assets in our case went to the community, apart from the racing assets ... because it did we still have strong links with the Beaumont area, even though we race some distance away."

Harness Racing New Zealand chairman Ken Spicer on wagering:

"HRNZ view that the NZTAB lacks scale to compete with these large [betting] overseas operators."

"We believe that to achieve the best returns for the industry and returns that the industry badly needs is to partner with an overseas operator."

Greyhound Racing New Zealand chairman Sean Hannan on code co-operation:

"I think it is significant ... that we are sitting here representing the entire industry ... we are agreed on what the key issues are."

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing chairman Dr Alan Jackson on funding:

"The current situation is due to New Zealand Thoroughbred [Racing] and our fellow codes being significantly underfunded and as we highlight in our submission, in decline for at least 15 years."


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