QUEENSLAND Trainers Association chairman Ross Shannon has reacted to the ALP pre election pledge of $70 million to country racing with a plea to his members and stakeholders of all political persuasions to seek similar (or even better) commitments from the LNP, One Nation, or other independents.
“We all need to ensure that this commitment by the ALP is not scuttled should the government change on voting day,” he said.
“The key facts are that two years ago the present committed $21 million over four years.
“There is now two years to run and there was still a gap which RQ had to fill in order to fully fund country racing prizemoney when the initial $21 million ran out.
“RQ board and the country racing representatives put a proposal for further funding from government for a more thorough focus on country racing and the flow on benefits to local communities in rural and remote areas- and we got the result” said Mr Shannon.
Racing Queensland said the ALP commitment would fully fund the cost of Country non-TAB thoroughbred racing for Queensland.
The $21 million country racing support package, only partially funded non-TAB thoroughbred racing.
RQ CEO Dr Eliot Forbes said the $70 million would provide security for country racing. He indicated $10 million would be set aside for capital works.
“RQ is still a loss-making organisation and we cannot become sustainable and maintain this level of non-TAB thoroughbred racing without support.
“I understand the importance of country racing to the social fabric of many regional and rural communities.
“During the recent RQ state-wide roadshow I met many of the passionate and dedicated club volunteers and participants who contribute to the industry.
Dr Forbes said that with non-TAB racing fully funded, $8 to $10 million per annum could be redirected from the RQ budget back into industry support and prizemoney for TAB races.
“The total package would allow us to redirect funds from non-commercially viable operations into areas that will drive wagering, improve the racing product, and boost returns for all.
“We recognise that our prize money levels need to be competitive with interstate markets and this money would help to address that and improve returns to all stakeholders including owners, trainers and jockeys.”
The racing industry generates $1.2 billion in economic activity and employs or engages around 42,000 individuals in Queensland. More than 47 per cent of the economic value is realised in regional parts of the state.
Country and non-TAB racing in Queensland impacts over 100 country towns conducting more than 260 race meetings and Queensland has the highest proportion of non-TAB racing in Australia, which comes at a significant cost, said the CEO.
IN THE POLICE force it is commonly known as revenue raising. And, seemingly the practise is now part of the police culture that has been adopted by much maligned QRIC that is fast losing or in fact has lost the respect it once had of licensees all over Queensland.
Seems $200 a pop is the going “contribution to the QRIC coffers” whenever and wherever the camera and recorder-clad members turn up.
The “flying squad” netted $600 from a battling trio of trainers at Innisfail recently and at least one case is worthy of mention.
A well respected trainer was fined because she fed a vitamin powder to her horse -- and didn’t record it.
The “guilty” trainer readily confirmed the fine with a quip that “I don’t treat my horses with performance boosters. I simply strive to provide a healthy diet”.
She, like many, many other trainers in the north are frustrated and enraged by the actions of QRIC.
Stable visits by stewards has long been an accepted practice in the industry where commonsense, civility and often helpful discussions took place. But the visits have changed under Commissioner Ross Barnett’s QRIC.
At Tolga, a lady trainer was fined $200 for allowing a 16 year old school girl to feed and water her horses while she attended a Townsville race meeting. The trainer and her partner - a jockey - would not have returned home until around midnight - and asked the girl to help out.
But it gets worse. The QRIC cops, after ascertaining she was not licensed (hence the fine) then asked the teenage girl to hold horses while they were digitally identified. The girl’s father understandably livid over the incident sought legal advice and complained to QRIC who responded by sending (at serious cost, no doubt) a team from Brisbane including at least one lawyer to investigate the complaint. Talk about waste of precious funds when plain common sense and decency was all that was required.