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Racing important to provincial NZ

2000 web siteLabour racing spokesperson Damien O'Connor said today that improving the viability of the racing industry was an important part of Labour's plan to rebuild the economies in regional and rural areas.

Releasing Labour's racing policy today, Mr O'Connor said that racing in rural New Zealand was in serious decline and the Labour government would have to take action to arrest the slump.

"Racing has been a big part of New Zealand's history. Meetings were held to celebrate the first anniversaries of European settlement in Auckland, Wellington, Nelson, Canterbury and Otago. Race meetings are still regarded as important social as well as sporting events.

"Strengthening our domestic racing industry would impact favourably on employment, particularly in rural areas. People employed in the industry cover a wide range of occupations from jockeys and harness drivers to horse trainers and stablehands.

"Labour's objective is to increase the number of people employed in the industry. For the future viability of the industry, it is important to encourage young New Zealanders into the industry. There needs to be a comprehensive training strategy for the industry."

Mr O'Connor said that one issue he would pursue was the allocation of race days.

"This is quite a big issue for many smaller racing clubs. They feel disadvantaged in the setting of race days, with the larger centres crowding out the small provincial race meetings.

"I intend to work with the racing industry to try and improve the co-ordination of race days to the benefit of all in the industry," Mr O'Connor said.

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