Traditionally NSW has been a great racing State but unfortunately, none of the three codes (gallops, harness and dogs) are flourishing as they once were. The Liberal/National Parties have tried to do the work of the Greens with their attack on the greyhound industry. With the demise of Luke Foley, Labor has lost its only representative passionate about racing. These people have no real culture.
Successive governments have done little to support NSW racing. Yet this wonderful industry should be the lifeblood of country communities and tourism. It should also be expanding in the city, getting younger people off their computer screens and captivated by the colour and camaraderie of the track.
I have had a lifelong love of racing and support the industry 100 percent. It will be one of my top priorities as One Nation Leader if elected to NSW Parliament. Our party has a 10-point plan to support and develop the three codes, as follows:
We reject the fanatical propaganda of Green-Left groups attacking racing as cruel to animals. The average owner and trainer loves their racing animals and looks after them well. If the Green-Left had their way, all racing would be closed down and racing animals would be put down, having lost their role in NSW sport.
One Nation supports the appointment of a Racing Ombudsman (for gallops, harness and dogs) to investigate complaints about racing administration and make recommendations for remedial action to the NSW Racing Minister. At the moment, the Minister does next to nothing for racing. He appoints various boards and then sits back in his office, seemingly powerless to correct errors and injustices in the industry. The One Nation policy is to make the Minister earn his keep, acting on the recommendations of an independent Ombudsman (someone like Luke Foley would be ideal in this role).
A special support package for the greyhound industry, which the Liberal and National Parties tried to kill off in 2016. One Nation will commit an extra $18 million per annum to prizemoney, track and facility upgrades (funded by the abolition of the Greater Sydney Commission). We also want a change in administration, ensuring those in charge of Greyhound Racing NSW actually support the industry’s growth, unlike the current situation where board members and administrators act as a policing body, trying to hold back the success of greyhound racing.
Overhaul the role of Destination NSW (the peak State tourism body) which has been too focused on Sydney. For instance, it doesn’t have a single grassroots country NSW representative on its board. They are mostly Sydney elites from the world of politics, media and the arts. The great bulk of the Destinations NSW $150 million annual budget is spent promoting Sydney-based events that financially should be able to promote themselves. This needs to change, with the redirection of tourism and promotional funding away from Sydney. In particular, country racing (gallops, harness and greyhounds) should receive greater support, given its potential to boost tourism and consumer spending in country towns. Overall for NSW tourism, State assets (such as the Sydney Opera House) should always be available for the promotion of racing.
Transfer Sydney-based funding on arts and cultural events to support economic development in country and regional NSW, recognising the tremendous tourism potential of country racing. Left-wing groups have captured large slabs of the State’s arts budget, producing political propaganda, when this money would be better spent assisting country communities with genuinely Australian cultural life: at the track. One Nation will prioritise the development of country training and racing facilities.
Ensure that all racing boards and governing bodies have at least 50 percent non-metropolitan representation, so that city interests do not overwhelm the needs of country racing.
The creation of 5-year industry development plans (for gallops, harness and greyhounds) overseen by Ministerial input and approval, with a strong emphasis on non-metropolitan tracks and facilities.
For the gallops, the urgent development of a designated high quality training facility in or near Sydney (such as Kembla Grange), so that NSW no longer misses out on attracting new trainers and investment to the State. Due to poor planning, there is a paucity of boxes for metropolitan and provincial trainers. Top trainers who want to come to Sydney are looking elsewhere.
For the gallops, a sensible limit on how many country starters a city trainer can have. When city trainers raid the bush it weakens country racing, draining prizemoney and enthusiasm. Country racing must be for country people.
Urgent attention to health and safety issues neglected at country horseracing tracks, such as the replacement of metal railings with plastic ones. Issues like broken water pumps (for example, at Orange) must be repaired immediately, guaranteeing safe surfaces for jockeys and horses. It’s time to listen to country racing participants and address the backlog of problems ignored by Racing NSW.