A PROPOSAL to build a $6 million levee bank in Rockhampton to protect inner city residents from flooding is causing a stir in the close-knit racing community of the CQ beef capital.
Jim Rundle – a former city councillor and long time horse trainer in the city - says the levee bank “would be a disaster for racing”.
Another long time racing stalwart Dave Bauer who actually lives close by Callaghan Park track is adamant the proposal should be aborted.
”It will be the end of racing. It is the levee bank OR Callaghan Park,” he declared.
“The Mayor is pushing to put the levee wall on the south-side of town about a kilometre upstream and in line with the racecourse which is, as everyone knows, already flood prone.”
“If she bungs the levee in- it will push a much more water onto the track, higher than ever and then that will be the end of Callaghan Park,” said Mr Bauer.
“I live on the river on the same road leading to the racecourse - at 36 Reaney Street. I don’t think it will affect me to any great extent, but will certainly affect the racecourse.
Amazingly, the Rockhampton Jockey Club or the Trainers Association has not been officially involved in the council’s proposal which, according to RRC council, has the tacit support of state and federal governments.
Jockey Club CEO Tony Fenlon said his committee haven’t been involved in any discussions with council so far - but added “we are watching with interest”:
But it seems the Mayor Margaret Strelow is most adamant.
“Like many parts of Australia, Rockhampton is vulnerable to natural disasters.”
“Major flooding from the Fitzroy River in 1991, 2011 and again in 2013 has had devastating impacts on the local community and resulted in significant impacts to the local, state and national economy,” she said.
“The proposed South Rockhampton Flood Levee has been identified as the most cost effective option to mitigate the effects of flooding in Rockhampton. It was first identified in 1992 and is supported by rigorous analysis including updated flood modelling in 2011.
“Rockhampton Regional Council proposes a partnership between the three tiers of government to take decisive action through the construction of the South Rockhampton Flood Levee. Council has already committed $250,000 in its 2013-14 Budget to progress this essential project.
“In order to advance to detailed design and construction, Council is seeking a $13 million commitment from each of the Australian and Queensland Governments. It will mitigate the impacts of flooding on the local, state and national economy and reduce future disaster recovery costs,” she said.
But, it seems she might have a fight on her hands to get full agreement to the plan, including independent engineers in the city as well as the racing community.
AND IT IS not just the levee bank that has some sections of the Racing community of Rocky on edge. Some, particularly trainers, are also embroiled in another issue that looks certain to develop into serious disagreement with the club and Racing Queensland.
It is the issue of jump-outs that RQ wants to phase out altogether. The great fear is that if it happens at Callaghan Park it will probably be enforced on other centres. It is a simple matter of economics - a subject many believe is not part of the RQ curriculum.
It costs a prohibitive $110 to run a horse in a barrier trial - nearly twice the cost of a jump-out.
Only the barrier trials are official and can be viewed by the general public by video. There is no official riding fee for jockeys either in jump outs and the cost levied by the clubs goes towards the ambulance which in recent times has become a necessity.
The banning of jump outs at Callaghan Park hasn’t yet happened - but the mail is that it will. And the trainers are already marshalling for the fight.
IRONICALLY in Townsville there are no barrier trials, only jump outs. And that suits the trainers who purposely boycott official trials that are abandoned if there are less than 20 nominations.
Trainers also object to being slugged $120 scratching fee if they are forced to scratch after nominations for a trial.
And who could blame them.
IT is a cost that would have to be shouldered by owners and trainers and RQ should be made well aware of it.
Then we have the issue of the Hendra virus vaccine. Stand by now for a demand that all Queensland horses be immunised – at great cost and not everyone believes in it.
IF RQ wish to have all horses immunised they might consider compensating for the cost.
Because, according to many, the only certainty is that compulsory immunisation benefits veterinarians - first and foremost.