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Peters has it all wrong on Racing - Greens

16 May 2008

Peters has it all wrong on Racing - Greens

Last night's Budget announcement that the taxpayer will put $9 million dollars into prize money for premier racing over the next three years shows how skewed the Government's approach to racing has become, Green Party Racing Spokesperson Sue Bradford says.

"Once again the Minister for Racing, Winston Peters, is demonstrating where his true colours lie.

"He appears committed to doing everything possible to help those in the racing world who already have the most - the wealthiest and most successful breeders, trainers and owners.

"The Green Party wholeheartedly supports the key role the racing industry plays in our economy and society.

"However, we believe any Government assistance should go towards those parts of the industry which are struggling to survive, not to those which are already fantastically successful.

"Winston Peters already succeeded two years ago in securing duty relief of around $32 million for racing, of which around $18 million was directed towards stakes.

"On top of this, racing is now getting $22 million a year in pokie funding, much of which is going towards stakes, including naming rights on major races. This is money torn from some of the poorest people and communities in New Zealand and redistributed to some of the richest.

"There is no need for yet more Government funding to go towards high stakes racing.

"If the Government wishes to support racing in this country it should:

* Require some of the substantial funds already with the Racing Board be released to meet the needs of racing in a fair and equitable manner before the taxpayer is called on to subsidise the industry

* Stop the practice of substantial amounts of pokie funds going towards premier race stakes

* Amend the Racing Act so that the principles of equity and fair play which are supposed to be a part of the legislation are enacted in a far more meaningful manner than they are at present

"While I am sure some of the big players in racing will be delighted with Mr Peters' announcement last night, there will be many others who will feel mortified at the bad name their industry is getting through Government sponsored handouts to the rich, while other sections of racing - and the community at large - struggle simply to survive," Ms Bradford says.


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