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Peters Speech: A Fair Go For Racing

Winston Peters Address: New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders' Association (Waikato Branch) Political Forum on Wednesday, 16 June 2005 (7.00pm-9.00pm) at the Te Rapa, Waikato Racing Club, Hamilton

“A Fair Go For Racing”

Which other industry in New Zealand which directly and indirectly accounts for $1.5 billion dollars worth of GDP, employs more than 18,000 people and has export earnings of more than $130 million would tolerate an overtly biased taxation regime?

Well the racing industry does and despite this injustice it continues to make this substantial contribution to our nation. It is time this contribution was recognised with some equity in how tax rules were applied to it.

It goes without saying that the racing industry is an integral part of New Zealand culture. But are we strangling the industry to the point where its future is no longer guaranteed? The evidence seems to suggest we are.

The reality that this is an industry that is truly engaged in a global marketplace as well as competition from other aspects of the wider entertainment industry seems to have escaped this government.

Racing has been poorly treated by successive governments since additional forms of gaming have been introduced such as casinos and gaming machines.

In the 2003 year, casino owners, from mostly overseas, took $457 million in revenue and paid $18.3 million gaming tax.

In the same year, racing’s revenue was $218 million and the industry paid $34.4 million in gaming tax.

If casinos and racing are both paying gaming tax, it is logical that it should be at the same level.

So what are the solutions?

Well New Zealand First believes that three concrete steps must be undertaken to put the industry on a fairer and more competitive basis. They are:

an improved depreciation regime for stallions and brood mares; a tax advantage for on course betting; and, amending the taxation regulations that are patently unfair on the racing industry by putting all gaming on the same footing.

We have been calling for these changes for some time.

The 2003 Racing Act has done little to set out specific roles and deliverables through racing.

It needs reviewing so that it can enable each organisation to identify and manage the fields they are best suited to. It also needs to clearly define the roles of the Boards and managements of codes and the New Zealand Racing Board.

We must also explore ways to increase the rate of return to owners, which is currently under 40%, to closer to the levels of competitors like Victoria where it is 65%.

In addition, it is crucial that we explore ways of expanding the export potential of the racing industry.

Racing is a serious component of New Zealand’s social and economic life. It is a good employer, a proud national recreation and a strong contributor to the economy.

The breeding industry should be a much more significant component of our international marketing efforts through the likes of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

New Zealand breeders have been a source of international pride and success for as long as we have been sending our horses offshore to compete. Exports today are worth more than $130 million.

However, our competitive advantage is eroding fast and will vanish if New Zealand governments continue to disadvantage local breeders.

This is why New Zealand First will stress the importance of the breeding industry in any post election discussions.

The key point is that this is a valuable industry that must be nurtured and assisted. New Zealand First is committed to achieving this.

ENDS

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