SHOOTERS, Fishers and Farmers Party MLC Robert Borsak has has fired back at claims made by Racing NSW CEO Peter V’landys in The Daily Telegraph.
The thoroughbred boss said the government had assured him it would not be altering the funding model which dictates the money returned to each code of racing based on the TAB’s yearly revenue.
V’landys’ comments followed the release of the NSW Greyhound Industry Reform Panel’s report for the future viability and direction of greyhound racing, with one recommendation being for the government to re-assess the intercode and tax harmonisation agreements.
V’landys labelled the recommendation as “ridiculous” and took aim at Brenton Scott, CEO of the Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Association, who was the sole voice of the industry on the reform panel, .
“One person that sat on that committee is from the greyhound industry, so naturally they are going to try and take someone else’s revenue,” he told Fairfax.
Currently, greyhound racing generates 21.7 per cent of TAB turnover in NSW, but only receives 13 per cent of the money injected back into the racing industries via the intercode agreement and 10 per cent of the tax parity funds. The thoroughbreds currently receive 70 per cent of the intercode funding, a cut most in the greyhound industry have envied for years.
“No government is going to set a precedent in legislating to change a private agreement,” V’landys said.
“This (the intercode) is a private agreement – it has nothing to do with the government. If government was to set this precedent, no-one would do business in NSW.”
However, Borsak, who was a vocal opponent of the now defunct greyhound racing ban, said it was imperative the greyhound industry fought for a greater share and said it was inappropriate for the Gladys Berejiklian-led Government to fail to consider change.
Borsak said a greater share of revenue would help the sport clean up its image and improve animal safety.
“For V’landys to say that the Premier has guaranteed him that nothing will change – I don’t accept that, nobody in the greyhound industry accepts that,” Borsak said.
“The reality is if the Berejiklian government wants to have any hope of being re-elected, and that especially includes the National Party seats, then they better take on board that the industry has been systematically looted for the last 20 years by the intercode agreement and more recently the tax parity adjustments.
“The [government] is scared of what they think is the political power of the thoroughbred and harness racing industries, but running scared of them in the last 20 years is nothing compared to what they’ll get if they don’t fix the wrongs of the past.
“This is their one opportunity to get it right, if they don’t they’ll get tossed out of government in 2019.”
Borsak, who chaired a Parliamentary Inquiry into greyhound racing in 2013 and 2014, supported the general theme of the Reform Panel’s report, but said none of it is going to be possible unless the industry is given its fair share of the funds.
“The area I have managed to get my head around pretty quickly is the financing [of the industry],” he said.
“I think this whole process of splitting the commercial and regulatory entities is a good move, but given all the animal welfare commissions that are going to be placed on the industry it is going to require a lot more money than [what the industry currently] gets through the TAB arrangements and other contracts it has.
“It is important that the government now intervene in the intercode agreement and also equitably distribute the tax parity to the greyhound industry so that it can properly commence the process of restructuring subject to what the government finally puts in legislation.”
Borsak said claims that the government cannot change the intercode agreement are ludicrous and again enforced it is the only way to achieve the right outcomes for the industry moving forward.
“The government has tried to argue that they can’t intervene, but we all know that is nonsense,” he said.
“The government can intervene in anything it desires – after all it decided it was going to close the greyhound industry down with the stroke of a pen or more accurately with a Facebook post.
“The government also needs to look carefully at $100-$150 million of capital injection into the industry to ensure that all its facilities all over the state, including animal welfare infrastructure, are brought up to the new millennium.
“Tracks around the state are still dwelling with the same problems they had in the 60s and 70s when they were built and that needs to be fixed.
“There is no way that we can possibly see a proper and decent outcome from an animal welfare point of view unless all the tracks are brought up to modern standards.”
You can read our extensive summary of the NSW Greyhound Industry Reform Panel’s report here.