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Annette King Speech - TAB 50th Jubilee

Hon Annette King
24 October 2000 Speech Notes

TAB 50th Jubilee, Grand Hall, Parliament

EMBARGOED 6.40pm October 24

Good evening. I cannot tell you how relieved I am to have made it here this evening without an undignified event along the way.

I understand the TAB was offering odds on the leading jockey after tonight's event, the listed Parliamentary Forecourt Handicap. I was flattered to be told I made up a short-priced quinella with Michael Walker, and that Peter Wolfenden and Glen Maguren were at long odds from the start.

And I should tell you that though like most people I admire Michael's exploits, there is no truth to the rumour that the Parliamentary Forecourt Handicap was a Groupie event, and not a Group I event.

In fact, how could it not be a Group I event when it was taking place in honour of the 50th Anniversary of the TAB? One thing's for sure, it had to be an extremely important event to persuade me to take the risk I have just taken.

Some New Zealanders may not appreciate just how important this jubilee is. New Zealand was the first country in the world to establish a TAB and its success over the past 50 years is a tribute to cooperation and foresight of New Zealand racing people.

The Kiwi can-do attitude is a great part of our heritage, and we are honouring part of our heritage by being here today. But while it is important to honour our past we should not simply be satisfied to toast what has gone before.

The future is always built on the past. That is why I am so pleased tonight to be also launching David Grant’s book, Two over Three on Goodtime Sugar. It is not merely a record of the past but a resource for the future.
The book is a chronicle of achievement, creativity, of things that worked and things that didn’t. But most of all it is about people. Racing, and therefore the TAB, is an integral part of our culture. It covers the high rollers and the Goodtime Sugar bettors, the hard luck stories and those far more exclusive and elusive rags to riches tales.

People have always tended to use the term rugby, racing and beer both as an expression of derision as well as affection. I suggest the expression can largely be used with real pride these days to reflect New Zealand's world-class status in breeding champion rugby players, racehorses and beer and wine makers.

Rugby, racing and beer make us world-famous for the best of reasons, because often we are the best. Over the 50 years of the TAB, racing has always been the key to its existence, but rugby and other sports are now part of its business too. And, who knows, one day it might start taking bets on the annual wine shows as well.

Often, it is not so much what we do that changes, but how we do it. That is certainly the case with the TAB. People still bet because they enjoy the thrill of racing, and they particularly enjoy it when they win. That is certainly the case with our office betting syndicate. Woe betide you, as I found out last week, if you fail to produce a dividend when it’s your turn to do the bets.

Office syndicates are not new. I imagine they were among the TAB's first customers. What is new is the way we do it. Our syndicate uses an Internet betting account. It is a service we share with over 13,000 other customers, 13 percent of whom live offshore. The camaraderie hasn't changed over 50 years, just the method of delivering it.

It was a bold move to establish the TAB, but New Zealanders have never been averse to trying something new. That is just as well because in this competitive environment the ability to adapt is not optional. That is why I have been listening to the racing industry generally as it has told me it needs and wants change.

I have encouraged debate and consultation, and I believe there is now a focus on the direction change should take. Racing's problems are not new but that doesn’t mean you should stop looking for solutions. I don’t believe in too-hard baskets, and the TAB wouldn’t exist today if it had one of its own.
My officials are now working on draft legislation for a new Racing Bill that will allow the industry freedom to adapt and compete in the time-honoured, Kiwi can-do tradition. I want the industry to have the legislation it needs to go forward. The industry, in turn, should take a leaf out of David Grant's book and have the courage of its convictions

Back yourselves to win. It is an attitude that has served you well in the past, and it is still a short odds favourite for the future. Enjoy yourself tonight and celebrate all the great things you and your predecessors have achieved. I am sure you can all achieve great things in turn as well.


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