13 Feb 2020

Racing industry says they're at low confidence

6:14 pm on 13 February 2020

The racing industry says they're at crisis point, but they're not happy with how the racing industry bill is proposing to set things right.

Mid section of female jockey sitting on horse during sunny day

Photo: 123RF

The country's three main racing codes; New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, Harness Racing New Zealand and and Greyhound Racing New Zealand have submitted to the Select Committee today on proposed reforms.

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing chair Alan Jackson was one of the half dozen industry leaders who told the Select Committee that reforms have long been needed.

He said even the top people are questioning their future in the industry.

"When you get out there at the coal face, this is all about animals and people, we see declining foal populations, empty trainers stalls, very low industry confidence and morale," he said.

The bill sets up a new regime for the industry, finalising a governance structure, creating a framework for property to better benefit the racing industry and new ways to seek approval for betting products.

But Jackson didn't think the bill in its current form was up to the job.

"Unfortunately in our view the majority of the bill before us today is an organisational solution to the financial challenge.

"In its current form, NZTR believes it will not address the key challenges that will allow the code to deliver on its potential and in fact may make us worse off than we are today," he said.

Greyhound Racing New Zealand chair Sean Hannan said the codes are commercial entities.

"The bill proposes a number of potential interventions by the Minister that we do not think are necessary or necessarily helpful.

"We work collaboratively together to resolve a lot of the issues, we are not government departments, yet some of the proposals suggest we would be treated more akin to a government department," he said.

Another issue the industry had with the bill was that TAB New Zealand would be given exclusive rights to the industry's intellectual property.

Harness Racing New Zealand chair Ken Spicer laid out the problems around handing over their intellectual property exclusively to the TAB.

"We are not sure about what parts we can and can't use without going back to the TAB, a the end of the day that is our IP," he said.

National's racing spokesperson Ian McKelvie said that needed to be addressed in the legislation.

"They certainly have some value in their IP and I think [that] they think for it to be locked up in one place even for six years, which is the latest proposal, is a long time, so there must be a way in the bill to alter that," he said.

Racing Minister Winston Peters indicated he was open to make changes.

"The reality is there is about seven points that we need to tidy up and that was always going to be the case, but because this has been around since 165 the need for reform, we need to get it right this time," he said.

Peters told the industry leaders today it was Parliament's job to get the bill right and it will.

A report is due back from the Select Committee in April.

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