Southern comfort tells tale of Qld’s sorry state
IN THE space of 24 hours this week, the stark differences in methodology and attitudes toward racing between two state Labor governments was beautifully and brutally illustrated, depending on which state you reside in.
On Tuesday, a contingent of thoroughbred representatives from Queensland faced Treasurer Jackie Trad and Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe asking, begging, for a bigger slice of point of consumption tax revenues.
The argument was simple: without this money coming back to racing, given it will be generated by betting on racing, the industry faces an almost untenable future in the face of burgeoning war chests being built south of the border.
They were told the Government had become tired of racing "putting its hand out".
Fast forward to Wednesday night and Victoria's Racing Minister Martin Pakula, a fierce advocate for the industry, announced a $33 million package to be put into prizemoney for Victorian Racing.
Pakula noted the investment was to safeguard thousands of jobs and grow the state's $3.2 billion industry.
The cash boost will push prizemoney on the 550 race meetings run in Victoria just past NSW, which distributes $260 million across 700 meetings.
Queensland has a similar number of thoroughbred meetings to NSW, but had just $105 million to share to its participants.
Earlier in the year, Pakula and the Victorian Government adopted the country's most competitive point of consumption tax - 8 per cent - knowing the higher the price, the more damage it potentially could do to wagering growth.
Queensland didn't budge on a national equal-high of 15 per cent.
There is yet to be an acknowledgment this price point puts at risk returns to Racing Queensland and limits its ability to charge more for its product.
The door remains ajar though.
The alliance of thoroughbred representatives hope Racing Queensland and the Government can negotiate a palatable solution for the industry, and on Thursday night agreed to put industrial action on hold as those negotiations continue.
Alliance spokesman Cameron Partington said the group was pleased the Government had listened and recognised its concerns and was hopeful of achieving a positive outcome.
"Our goal from the outset has been to obtain a better deal for the thoroughbred racing industry, a deal which can restore confidence through an immediate boost on returns to participants through prizemoney increases," he said.
"While we await (the Government's) response, we will put a hold on our plans for industrial action in the short term, provided an acceptable agreement for recurring returns to industry participants can be achieved."
Amid the uncertainty in Queensland, the West Australian Government this week committed 35 per cent of proceeds from an estimated $500 million privatisation of its TAB to the racing industry for infrastructure funds.