ACT believes our racing industry can be sustainable and, with better governance, will thrive once again.
ACT acknowledges that the racing and breeding industry is an integral part of our cultural identity, history, and economy, representing approximately 1 percent of GDP.
The industry employs between 14,000 and 15,000 people either directly or indirectly. A further 11,000 regular volunteers add vital support to racing’s infrastructure. With all participants considered, including owners and regular racegoers, almost 60,000 New Zealanders are involved in racing every week.
ACT believes racing is sustainable and, with more efficient administration, can thrive and retrieve some of the lost market share and prestige it has yielded in the past two decades.
ACT supports the majority of the Messara Review’s recommendations. We have reservations, however, about the closure of racing venues without meaningful community consultation. The loss of racing dates and well-attended community events have significant social, cultural and economic impacts.
The racing industry should be administered by democratically-elected boards with sound racing knowledge and be free of both the government appointees and corporate interference that has been detrimental to the industry.
ACT does not believe New Zealand needs a Minister of Racing and we would abolish the role. The Racing Minister’s responsibilities would transfer to the Minister of Internal Affairs, as was the case pre-1991. The role of government in racing should be minimised, with its primary responsibility to issue the betting license to TAB NZ through the Department of Internal Affairs.
Racing is a highly specialised industry in which knowledge and expertise are invariably the domain of the participants and stakeholders. The Racing Bill 2020 has provided the racing industry with an opportunity for a degree of self-determination.
ACT is aware of the issues created by racing’s ageing demographic and declining public image. We would encourage the industry to utilise all available resources to attract younger participants, new owners and breeders, and to enhance the image of the industry. Health and safety, gambling harm, and the rehoming of retired racehorses are issues for the racing industry which will require constant vigilance and future planning.
ACT recommends the racing industry develop a sustainable growth plan with strategies to maximise industry strengths and thoroughbred export potential.
ACT sees racing’s main issues as:
- The excessive cost of administering racing for the size of the industry
- Lower financial returns to owners as a percentage of costs
- Loss of horses and horsemanship expertise overseas
- Government interference in the administration of racing
- Lack of promotion of the industry
- Failure to act on the Messara Report’s recommendations
- Lack of cash or property reserves in the COVID-19 downturn.
- Recommend an immediate inquiry into the costs of administration in the racing industry
- Consult the author of the Messara Review to maximise stakes and investigate the potential to sell New Zealand’s racing timeslot to the global market
- Recommend immediate action for the collection of 100 percent of Betting Information Use Charges from Australia
- Abolish the Racing portfolio
- Ensure the Government has an arms-length relationship with the racing industry so it can self-determine its future.
The Future of Racing
The Labour Government’s racing legislation represents a partial remedy for the many ills which have developed since the Racing Act 2003, but it does not deal with the excessive interference from government. Under ACT, the Government would have an arms-length relationship with the industry.
Many of the recommendations contained in the Messara Review should be regarded as the blueprint for racing’s future and should be revisited in consultation with the review’s author.