Minister cuts leave over racing industry revolt
RACING Minister Stirling Hinchliffe is set to cut short his holiday to meet with an alliance of thoroughbred representatives on Tuesday, with the group seeking a commitment of money that can immediately be used to boost prizemoney.
Members from each of the four bodies representing jockeys, trainers, owners and breeders will meet with the Minister and they have also requested that Treasurer Jackie Trad and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk attend the meeting.
It is uncertain yet whether any representatives from Racing Queensland will be in attendance.
The Minister has been advised that the only way to halt planned industrial action will be with a "satisfactory financial injection immediately into prizemoney", along with ongoing commitments.
Former champion jockey Chris Munce, now president of the Queensland branch of the Australian Trainers' Association, hopes the government will realise how dire the situation has become in Queensland.
"It seems to me (the government) just want mediocre racing up here where we are racing for ribbons," Munce said.
"They have to come back with something for us. I just hope they can see what a dire situation we are in.
"It's got to the point now, with the other states going so well, that it's almost impossible to run a business and survive here. It's just so expensive for owners to race here by way of prizemoney comparisons.
"If nothing happens, businesses are just going to shut down."
Multiple premiership-winning rider Larry Cassidy said jockeys would remain 100 per cent behind the industry's planned industrial action on Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup days if nothing changed in the next fortnight.
"There's disappointment and frustration across the whole industry about the result given to them," Cassidy said.
The already flagging industry is seeking a cash injection from POC receipts. The tax is expected to have a detrimental effect on existing wagering returns to the industry.
Racing Queensland chief executive Brendan Parnell conceded the introduction of the tax would affect overall revenue returned to the control body, over and above the "make good" aspect of the POC deal, pointing to South Australia (which led the country in introducing this tax) as an example.
"I don't believe it will be as extreme as it was in South Australia, because there are significantly more customers in Queensland, but we are expecting a downturn because of it. This will do damage and the finances will be impacted," he said.
"From a short term point of view, the timing is also very poor for Queensland. The next three months are the biggest betting months of the year and we are now an outlier, because New South Wales and Victoria's POC doesn't come in until January 1."