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Minister for Education and Training; South West
Opposition takes a bizarre flight of fancy
7/08/2005 12:00 AM
The Opposition’s recent proposal to subsidise flights for Eastern States horses to participate in Perth’s racing calendar is bizarre and cannot be taken seriously, according to Racing and Gaming Minister Mark McGowan.
Mr McGowan said the Opposition had clearly run out of ideas for Western Australia’s racing industry, which was booming, due to structural and tax changes brought about by the Gallop Government.
“Opposition spokesperson for Racing and Gaming John McGrath is clutching at straws if this is the best he can come up with,” the Minister said.
“It is frankly bizarre to suggest the State Government should spend taxpayers’ dollars on flying Eastern States horses across the country to take our hard-earned stake money back east.
“The Gallop Government has committed $45million to the racing industry over the next four years and stakes are at a record high.
“The establishment of Racing and Wagering Western Australia (RWWA) in 2003 has seen massive benefits flow to all three racing codes and a number of other States have expressed an interest in following our lead.
“With such optimism and confidence in the industry, it is no wonder the Opposition is left floundering for ideas.”
Mr McGowan said it was part of the racing industry’s day-to-day business to fly horses across the country in pursuit of the high carnival stakes on offer.
“The West Australian Turf Club (WATC), under the management of Ted Van Heemst and Alistair Robertson, is highly experienced in managing events, and is perfectly capable of managing simple operational matters such as arranging charter flights if the need arises,” he said.
“I am sure that no other State Government subsidises charter flights for WA horses to travel east.
“It is a strange suggestion to offer subsidisation for Eastern States horses, when we do not offer the same support to horses in Bunbury, Albany, Kalgoorlie or Geraldton to come to Perth.
“I am equally sure that the WATC are quite capable of deciding for themselves the merits of supporting interstate horses to travel to Perth to target our stake money at the expense of the local industry.
“The Government’s focus over the last four years has been to tackle the real issues faced by the industry, due to years of inaction by the previous Coalition Government.”
In the past four years, the Gallop Government has:
established RWWA as the single industry controlling authority together with responsibility for TAB wagering - a first in Australia;
reduced the tax burden on the racing industry, representing a benefit of approximately $18million per year;
fixed the tax system by changing the basis of calculating wagering tax from turnover to gross profits providing the incentive for RWWA to grow its wagering business; and
committed to spending $20million on upgrading racecourse infrastructure throughout the State.
Under its new structure, the TAB in WA is flying - achieving double-digit revenue growth and smashing distribution levels to the racing clubs.
This has led to record increases in stakes money level across all codes to the extent that WA has left the South Australian and Queensland racing industries in its wake.
The direct result of this is that the WATC has been able to inject a further $6million into its stake money budget, including increases of as much as $250,000 to the purses on offer for its feature races.
Mr McGowan said he was not surprised that the Opposition had resorted to such wacky proposals.
“The WA racing industry is the fastest growing in the nation and the best Mr McGrath can come up with is some loony proposal to help interstate horses travel to WA to plunder our stake money,” he said.
“This is the type of small-minded thinking that has held back the racing industry from striving to achieve its full potential for decades.
“I am sure that the industry is breathing a sigh of relief that Mr McGrath is not its racing minister.”
Minister's office: 9222 9111