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MY CALL: THE SIMMERING SITUATION AT THE IPSWICH TURF CLUB IS SLOWLY REACHING BOILING POINT

By David Fowler | Tuesday, May 21, 2019

IPSWICH - THE INSIDE STORY

Racing Queensland’s decision not to relocate and construct new tie-up stalls at the Ipswich track has opened the proverbial Pandora’s box.

At face value, this decision could be considered RQ exercising priorities to remediate the course proper over the relocation / construction of the tie up stalls.

Significantly, face value does little justice to the bigger picture.

The costed $13 million project signed off by State Government and the Ipswich City Council included a function centre, stewards’ and jockeys’ rooms, new stabling and turf upgrades.

A car park would also be located where the current tie-up stalls would be demolished and moved to an area adjacent to the 100 metre mark in the home straight.

According to Racing Queensland, the cost of the project has blown out because asbestos and soil contaminants have increased the scope of the works.

Yet the “blow out” figure of $6 million has raised a red flag with the Ipswich Turf Club committee and a figure they believe requires further investigation.

Pandora’s box item one.

This $6m shortfall will be sourced by RQ out of the Racing Infrastructure Fund pending State Government Approval.

The Ipswich club has reacted angrily to RQ’s reset of the project claiming all they want and nothing more is for what was approved to be built.

RQ’s CEO Brendan Parnell has said his body has obligations to the entire industry and there is a need to balance competing priorities.

In this case, it is the course proper remediation over the tie-up stalls construction.

Yet MY CALL understands this course proper work will be three years in the waiting!

Pandora’s box item two.

The reason for this time frame is that the Gold Coast’s track issues need to be executed first.

Another “competing priority” you might say.

As the Ipswich club reasonably points out, it is difficult to argue something is high priority yet is being kept on ice for three years.

The downgrading of the need for new tie-up stalls at Ipswich also puts RQ at odds with itself.

Their very own commissioned report on the tie-up stalls highlights more than one area where they are non-compliant.

Several trainers have told MY CALL an accident is waiting to happen with the ageing infrastructure.

Pandora’s box item three.

And if the current tie-up stalls aren’t for demolition where does the proposed car park end up being built?

Pandora’s box item four.

MY CALL understands Racing Queensland has the support of the Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe in their actions.

Yet he may meet his match with the Ipswich City Council who may insist, and rule, that no amendments can be made to the original development application without the club’s consent.

Pandora’s box item five.

No one can argue that the Ipswich Turf Club has been kicked from pillar to post over the past decade by a string of government and racing administration inaction and broken promises.

Their purpose has been consistently transparent endeavouring to redevelop their complex to secure revenue streams outside of racing.

In other words, provide the least possible burden to RQ.

Sources close to the club say this latest episode is the last straw and they will not take a backward step.

Their chairman Wayne Patch is not someone to be taken lightly. Ignore his influence in Labor heartland at your peril.

While 20,000 plus revellers will enjoy Ipswich Cup day in a month’s time, a very different scene will be playing out off the track.

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David Fowler
David Fowler
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