Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Regions Need To Take Control Of Racing

Robbing communities of their assets is not the way forward for the racing industry. New Conservative Racing industry spokesman Lachie Ashton urges industry leaders to connect with their grassroots support and clubs earmarked for closure based on the Massara report, and find a better way of restructuring the industry.

To use legislation to take away the right of clubs to race and seize their assets is not the way to move forward. It tramples on every volunteer, who through the generations, have given countless hours to their clubs and racing. Clubs are also part of the community and are supported by local businesses every year, with their facilities used for other community activities as well. The only people that have any right to decide what happens to club assets are the clubs’ members, using a democratic process.

To think a move like this is going to go well is delusional, and the Westland Racing Club has already demonstrated this by selling their grounds at Hokitika to their local council for $100 and gifted them $250,000 in cash as well. Such actions will shrink the industry by killing off grassroots support that the industry badly needs.

Racing needs to remember where their support comes from and that we are not Australia where a much larger punter base exists without a direct connection to the industry. Clearly, there is a need for restructuring, and the place to start is with the Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) who have squandered millions while starving the clubs of a fair share of the TAB turnover that could have benefitted the whole industry.

Ashton agrees that the amalgamation of clubs to a centralised track where achievable would bring many advantages providing the change generated the income for better facilities, stakes and racing. While centralised racing benefits trainers situated close to centralised tracks, it disadvantages those who are not, and there would have to be suitable facilities to accommodate these trainers and their horses when making these decisions.

Riccarton, for example, has been given funding for an all-weather track as part of the plan for centralised racing but has been selling off land to stay afloat. It could be argued that they no longer have the land to provide good facilities and accommodation for visiting trainers and their horses for extended periods of time.

The other problem is that removing racing from Marlborough and the East Coast of the North Island, along with Harness Racing in Dunedin, Timaru and the Manawatu. will only shrink grassroots support along with on course and off course betting.

You can hardly expect these people to travel to centralised meetings outside their area or sit at home and watch a totally butchered Trackside on TV and no radio. If we want to be in the entertainment industry, we have to make it work for the people otherwise they will find something else to do with their weekends and entertainment dollars.

Racing would do better to support trainers with free entries and travelling than to close clubs that are popular with the public and their grassroots supporters who have put so much into it. These clubs are great for their communities, they support local trainers who don’t want to leave the district and are able to provide workouts, trials and maiden races on different types of tracks for all trainers and owners.

Will centralised racetracks be able and willing to do so in the future? Will their volunteers be able or willing to take on such an increased workload? Will their tracks hold up? What happens when the track needs to be spelled or repaired?

The industry needs to stop getting strung along by a bunch of bureaucrats and take control and work together or it is doomed. The TAB belongs to the Thoroughbred and Standardbred industry. Take it back and get people like Ken Rutherford and Peter Johnstone who know what they are doing to run it and focus on building the industry.

Instead of abandoning the regions, form them into workable geographic areas and give them the responsibility to make it work. Harness Racing Clubs in Otago and Southland are already working together. They should take the lead, work with the other codes and make the changes needed for the long term good of their region and not leave it for a bunch of bureaucrats to force it on them.

As has previously been promoted, a centrally located track with first class facilities somewhere around Dacre with pooled resources and amalgamated clubs, would serve Southland very well. This would be a much better option than what is proposed at the moment. It should be up to the regions to decide how many tracks they need and when they race based on what they know will work. Give them the responsibility to make it work or suffer the consequences of failure.

Give each region the same deal based on performance. No favouritism. It must be a level playing field. Start with redistributing the funding earmarked for the next two synthetic tracks and disperse it fairly to all the regions to get things going. We have built an industry on grass tracks and we can do it again. We just have to make every track work for the benefit of the whole region, not one club.

If the regions combined their resources and do a good job they could have their synthetic tracks and/or first class facilities when they are ready for them on their own terms and money if they want them. It’s time to stop talking, work together and start doing. We need all the regions to prosper. Give them the chance to do so by giving them control and a fair go.

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Why Todd Muller Needs To Own The Privacy Leak Scandal

Whenever a political scandal breaks, party leaders have two basic options. They can confess to being in boots and all, and try to brazen it out : nothing to see here, move on. This tended to be the John Key approach. Very hard to pull that off in this case, given that it involved violating the privacy of sick New Zealanders for party political gain.
The other option is to claim innocence of this terrible, no good, highly regrettable “error of judgement” and apologise profusely for the sins of others, while absolving your own good self of any responsibility. This has been Todd Muller’s chosen path.... More>>

National Departures: Press Statement From Michelle Boag

Today I am announcing that I have resigned my membership of the NZ National Party. The last few days have underscored for me the unhealthy relationship I have developed with politics. For 47 years, I have devoted much of my professional and personal ... More>>


Govt: Statement From Rt Hon Winston Peters

Deputy Prime Minister and New Zealand First Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters has announced he is taking a short stint of medical leave this week. More>>

Isolation: Government And Air NZ Agree To Manage Incoming Bookings

Bookings for seats on Air New Zealand flights into New Zealand will be managed in the short term to ensure the Government is able to safely place New Zealanders arriving home into a managed isolation or quarantine facility, says Housing Minister Megan ... More>>


Government: New Investment Creates Over 2000 Jobs To Clean Up Waterways

A package of 23 projects across the country will clean up waterways and deliver over 2000 jobs Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Environment Minister David Parker announced today. The $162 million dollar package will see 22 water clean-up projects ... More>>


Government: David Clark Resigns As Health Minister

The Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has accepted David Clark’s resignation as Health Minister. More>>


Election 2020: Green Party Unveils Income Policy

The Green Party is today unveiling its Poverty Action Plan, which includes a Guaranteed Minimum Income to ensure people have enough to live with dignity. The scheme resets income support payments to ensure everyone not in full-time paid work gets at least ... More>>


Conservation: New Protection For Dolphins

Extensive new protections are being put in place as part of an updated plan to look after New Zealand’s native Hector’s and Māui dolphins, announced Minister of Fisheries Stuart Nash and Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage today. More>>


Auckland: Water Consent Referred To Board Of Inquiry

Environment Minister David Parker has today “called in” Auckland’s application to the Waikato Regional Council to take an extra 200 million litres of water a day from the lower reaches of the Waikato River for Auckland drinking water and other municipal uses... More>>


Foreign Affairs: New Zealand To Review Relationship Settings With Hong Kong

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has announced that the New Zealand Government is reviewing the settings of its relationship with Hong Kong. “China’s decision to pass a new national security law for Hong Kong has fundamentally changed the environment ... More>>


Covid-19 Patient Info Leak: Hamish Walker - A Personal Statement And An Apology

I have spoken to National Party Leader Todd Muller and informed him that I passed to members of the media, by email, information containing Covid-19 patient details that was given to me by a source. I did this to expose the Government’s shortcomings ... More>>


PM: Labour Will Extend Loan Scheme 'lifeline' For Small Business

Labour has announced its plans to extend the Small Business Loan Cashflow Scheme and spend $162 million on a waterway clean-up package. More>>


Economy: Infrastructure Investment To Create Jobs, Kick-Start COVID Rebuild

A new package of infrastructure investments will help kick-start the post-COVID rebuild by creating more than 20,000 jobs and unlocking more than $5 billion of projects up and down New Zealand. Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Infrastructure Minister ... More>>


Covid-19: Isolation System To Be Beefed Up After Stress

A range of improvements are already underway to address issues identified in the rapid review of the Managed Isolation and Quarantine system released today, Housing Minister Megan Woods said. The review was commissioned just over a week ago to identify ... More>>


Election 2020: Parties Get Into Gear

ACT has today announced its list for the 2020 General Election. “The calibre and experience of our candidates will impress voters of every persuasion. We have candidates from all walks of life. People who have built their homes, families and businesses ... More>>






InfoPages News Channels