Tasmanian Racing’s New Dawn Contingent On TOTE Tasmania Sale

Australian Racing Greyhound has been following the Tasmanian industry reforms closely due to our have first hand experience of the naivety and narrow mindedness that has so far prevailed over Tasmanian Racing and more specifically Tasmanian Greyhound Racing.

As we observed several times, the new Tasmanian racing industry reform proposals, while on the surface a step forward in thinking for the Apple Isle; have never once spelled out how the new Tasmanian Racing Board (TRB) and Integrity Assurance Board would be funded, except to say that “there would be no change to the present funding arrangements of the industry”.

Well it now appears, that despite the new boards assuming control of racing on the 1st January 2009; the funding for these new reforms was contingent on the sale of TOTE Tasmania, the Tasmanian government owned Totalisator service that is a strong income producer for the southern state.

So for all the advances the new racing proposals make by their existence, they are negated by the selling of TOTE Tasmania for a short term solution to the problem of how to fund the two new boards.

Not suprisingly, many in the Tasmanian racing industry are concerned with the Minister’s short term plan and question the long term viablity of Tasmanian Racing without the ongoing revenue derived from TOTE Tasmania; and they now have the Tasmanian Opposition onside.

The Tasmanian Opposition have brought pressure to bear on the government and a Parliamentary committee will now give the Tasmanian racing industry a chance to air any concerns and potentially block the sale of TOTE Tasmania if a review finds the racing industry will suffer from the sale.

The Racing Minister Michael Aird had originally ruled out selling the agency but that decision was reversed earlier this month, as the Minister sought desperately for a funding solution for his new boards.

The Joint Standing Committee into Environment, Resources and Development will decide early next month whether to examine that decision to sell TOTE Tasmania.

The committee’s chairman, Upper House member Greg Hall, says he believes the Government’s sudden change of mind makes a review necessary.

“We’ve had quite a bit of concern expressed by some stakeholders and members of the community,” he said.

“I think therefore it’s up to a committee to have a quick look at it.”

The Opposition parties have welcomed the prospect of the committee examining the change in policy.

The Liberals’ Jeremy Rockliff says many in the industry have been sidelined.

“The racing industry feel betrayed, the feel deceived and the fell vulnerable,” he said.

Mr Aird says he welcomes scrutiny which will be ensured anyway when Parliament considers legislation to allow the sale.