THE State Labor Government has been accused of ignorance and complacency as Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe meets with key racing industry associations this week to ward off strike action they've threatened unless they get a share of the state's new Point of Consumption (PoC) betting tax.
The PoC came into effect from October 1, with all bets in Queensland being taxed 15 per cent. It’s expected to raise almost $70 million in the first year alone.
Mr Hinclifffe – along with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Treasurer Jackie Trad – was notified by letter last week of the prospect of industrial action at Doomben, Gold Coast and Toowoomba on Cox Plate day (October 27) and Melbourne Cup day (November 6).
The letter has support from the TBQA, Queensland Jockeys Association, Queensland Racehorse Owners Association and the Queensland branch of the Australian Trainers Association.
The Brisbane Racing Club and Gold Coast Turf Club have also backed the protests, while LNP Shadow Racing Minister John-Paul Langbroek described Labor Treasurer Jackie Trad’s refusal to provide the industry with guaranteed income from the nation’s highest PoC tax as “the straw that has broken the camel’s back”.
A deeply disappointed TBQA president Basil Nolan said the Treasurer’s disgraceful decision prompted the TBQA to join other racing bodies in calling for strike action. “Government Ministers eagerly attend racing events and appear to understand the value of the industry, yet they’re prepared to ‘sell-out’ the grass root participants – the people who will suffer the most from the Government’s ignorance and complacency,” Mr Nolan said.
“In NSW and Victoria the revenue from their betting taxes will be reinvested in the racing industry and that was what Racing Queensland (RQ) and the TBQA had been lobbying the Queensland Government for – or even a significant proportion of the 15pc to be returned to the industry. Unfortunately, our efforts fell on deaf ears,” he said.
Mr Nolan said instead of enabling the racing industry to become self-sufficient and sustainable, the State Government would simply cover a reimbursement for Racing Queensland to the TAB for its racing fees bill and write off RQ’s $17.8 million debt. RQ will also receive $20 million grant this financial year to be used on two new racing facilities in harness racing and greyhound tracks.
“That’s a one-off of less than $40 million coming back to the industry which will be making a minimum $70 million per year for the government. A $20 million infrastructure grant for the dogs and trots is not going to assist the thoroughbred industry which is the most important gambling medium for the state.
“What about a financial commitment moving forward? Is the government simply planning to take this $70 million each year and put it in their coffers? Where is this money going to be distributed?” he asked.
Claiming the tax was a whole new revenue stream generated solely from the racing industry, Mr Nolan said it was only common sense that some of this revenue be returned to the industry to ensure that racing was viable and sustainable in Queensland.
“Every other state that has introduced this tax has a guaranteed yearly percentage of revenue injected back to the racing industry. I do not understand why the Queensland government can’t use the same model as NSW, SA or Victoria when it clearly is so successful,” he said.
Sky caller Marlow headed to Singapore
YOUNG gun race-caller Luke Marlow – who began his race-calling career in central Queensland – is leaving Sky Racing with mixed emotions to take the number one race-calling job in Singapore later this month.
Marlow, 25, started with Sky Racing in 2011 and said he would be “forever indebted” to Sky for the opportunities and career development the broadcaster provided.
“It was a hard decision. I love working at Sky and they’ve been so supportive, but it’s the right time in life to jump in and try something new and exciting like this. If I’m going to do it, it’s now,” he said.
Marlow is one of a number of Australia’s next wave of race-callers to come through the John Tapp Scholarship which includes Sky Racing’s Mitch Manners and Josh Fleming as well as Melbourne’s number one Thoroughbred caller, Matt Hill.
Sky Racing’s John Tapp Race Calling Scholarship gives budding race callers the chance to be professionally groomed for a career behind the binoculars. The 2011 judging panel of Sky Racing chief operating officer Brendan Parnell (now Racing Queensland CEO), long-time Sky Racing host Graham McNeice and John Tapp found Luke to have tremendous calling potential, excellent presentation skills and strong audience appeal.
While Central Queensland race-goers heard Luke call at Thoroughbred and greyhound meetings, I first heard Luke do a phantom call at the 2011 Capricornia Classic Calcutta in Rockhampton and was immediately impressed. So when Sky Racing made the announcement on popular racing review program Racing Retro, I found myself punching the air and yelling “You beauty!”
In a subsequent Racing Retro interview, Luke revealed he started his calling career aged 14 while recovering from illness at home at Merlo Downs, Alton Downs. “I used to mute the sound on Sky Racing telecasts and make my own calls, before graduating to calling local barrier trials,” he said.
Asked about role models, Luke said Central Queensland caller Tony McMahon had been a tremendous help as had current Rockhampton caller Russell Leonard. “I also had the opportunity to visit Brisbane and work with former Eagle Farm and Doomben caller Wayne Wilson,” he said
Sky Racing’s chief race-caller Darren Flindell – who himself had a 16-year stint calling in Hong Kong, including nine as the number one caller – praised Marlow’s contributions to Sky.
“Luke is an outstanding young talent who calls with great passion, balancing accuracy with flair. He’s bound to do Australia proud in Singapore,” he said.
Tabcorp’s EGM of Media and International Darren Pearce added: “Racing is a truly international market now and as sad as we are to lose Luke’s talents to Sky and Australia, there is also an underlying sense of pride in the development Luke has acquired with Sky and that this will be showcased on a global stage in Singapore.”
Everest seeks ‘elite’ status
“OUT with the old – in with the new!” While Group 1 status is the pinnacle of the current international black type racing pattern system, Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys believes The Everest should be the first Australian race in a new category of global ‘elite’ races.
V’landys contends the traditional rating system for races does not apply to the $13 million slots race that will be contested at Randwick on October 13.
“It doesn’t need to be a Group 1 race. It's beyond that. There are too many Group 1s and they have lost their value because they are a dime in a dozen. The Everest should be in its own category as an elite race. It is the perfect race to be the first race to be given that title,” he said.
“There are races around the world that are beyond Group 1 level and this race has moved into that elite category in just a year. Everyone knows those races and everyone wants to win them. The Everest is one of those races. It is a race for the new age.
“We wanted to target a new market, a younger market and they don’t like old. They don't want anything to do with tradition. They don’t do things because they have always been done that way. They want short sharp moments and The Everest gives them that.
“We had to get into that way of thinking. If you don’t innovate, you don’t move forward. The Everest takes racing into the 21st century. We have been doing things the same for the past 30 years and racing was getting smaller. This race is making racing bigger. That is why we don’t need the Group 1 title because it is old. We want something new, something elite,” he said.