The Canberra Racing Club is strenuously defending ACT government funding amid calls from the ACT Greens to get industry support.
The Canberra Racing Club has firmly defended racing in the nation’s capital after pleas from the ACT Greens to remove government funding for the industry.
The calls come at a time when the ACT government is deep in negotiations to re-sign a five-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) to provide public funding to the thoroughbred and hard-racing industry.
Valued at nearly $40 million over five years, or $7.5 million a year, the funding pales in comparison to the more than $20 million annual injection the ACT government receives through betting taxes on local whole-blooded horses. and harness racing.
And while the industry continues to make a significant contribution to government, Matthew Kolek, Acting CEO of Canberra Racing Club, says the industry’s tremendous support for the local economy doesn’t stop there.
“The racing industry is an important part of the ACT economy,” Kolek said.
“The thoroughbred racing industry in the ACT is responsible for generating more than $55 million in value-added economic contribution each year to the territory.
“We are also responsible for maintaining more than 400 full-time equivalent jobs in the ACT and provide a facility used by a variety of different community groups in the ACT.”
Kolek added that the investment made through the MOU would enable the industry to continue strengthening its ever-changing welfare standards while exploring further options in ongoing efforts to become more self-sufficient.
“Continuing the MOU will help us deliver further benefits to equine welfare while helping us further diversify our revenues,” Kolek said.
“We have a range of different revenue diversification options on the table, one of which is moving forward with the redevelopment of our neighborhood, which we hope to continue over the next five years.
“We hope to redevelop the whole area we have in Lyneham, looking for some residential and commercial areas and upgrading our facilities for participants.”
Kolek went on to say that the industry welcomed the government introducing performance measures — including around animal welfare initiatives — as a condition of the new agreement.
“We are a progressive industry leader in horse welfare and have the opportunity to set the standard as a single-lane Principal Racing Authority,” said Kolek.
“There is a range of measures that we will look at under the MOU, including the traceability of horses in the ACT.
“We are also fortunate to be making a financial contribution to Team Thoroughbred, a re-homing scheme for retired Thoroughbreds set up by Racing NSW.
“Indeed, the Canberra Racing Club and Racing NSW are the only two jurisdictions that currently have a local rule that prohibits sending a thoroughbred to a slaughterhouse or knacky.”
In early 2018, the ACT government banned greyhound racing in Canberra, despite an independent report that found no evidence of live bait in the ACT.
At the time, greyhound racing officials cited the political backroom deals led by the Greens as the catalyst for bringing the industry to a halt.
Originally published as Canberra Racing Club responds to calls from the ACT Greens to withdraw industry funding