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THE SUNSHINE COAST NEWSPAPER COLUMN: IS THE QLD GOVERNMENT EVER GOING TO COME TO THE PARTY?

By Graham Potter | Saturday, July 21, 2018

Graham Potter writes a weekly column for the Sunshine Coast daily. Due to demand from those having trouble accessing the paper these columns are now also published on HRO courtesy of the Sunshine Coast daily.

Racing NSW has, yet again, announced prize money increases which will take the state’s annual prizemoney pool to more than $260 million.

It is no longer just kicking dust in the face of Racing Queensland prize pool, it is now leaving the Sunshine State so far behind in terms of the divide in prizemoney that the situation is now seriously demoralising for local participants.

Of course, comparing the two states is like comparing oranges and apples … so, it can be a little unfair to make that call. The quality of the racing product, the effectiveness of management strategy, the turnover and a host of other factors dictate what can be achieved and what is out of reach, but arguably the core ingredient to Racing NSW’s success is the backing and all-around support it receives from the NSW Government.

That support has repeatedly translated into action from Racing NSW administrators and that action has, amongst other things, regularly led to prize money increases and benefits for NSW participants, across the board, from metropolitan to provincial to country racing.

Clearly then, for Racing Queensland to start a forward move of its own, however modest a move that might be, the Queensland Government has to come to the party with the type of conviction and encouragement which the racing industry, as a massive employment sector and important income stream for government, wholly deserves.

Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe has said that Racing Queensland was finalising a new commercial plan “with a view to building a more sustainable industry” and he added, “the Government will continue to consult with stakeholders on the point of consumption tax as part of our efforts to build a more prosperous industry for all participants.”

That’s politician-talk, ie it is of little to no value and surely Hinchliffe must know that racing stakeholders have heard this all before.

Seriously, where’s the substance in those comments? Where’s the action plan? What’s the timeline? It’s all nonsense until something concrete comes of it and this attitude from government to deflect and delay, while allowing there are some other directions where fingers can be pointed, which has very much played the role of an anchor dragging racing down or, at very least, restricting its progress.

It is not just Hinchliffe of course. He just follows in a long line of Racing Ministers in recent times who never pulled their weight as far as the majority of the industry participants are concerned.

But it's his gig now and it is time for the Racing Minister to stand up and be counted.

There is plenty that can be improved on the Racing Queensland administration side of things and for racing to be a success story in the future that challenge will also have to be met with some hard questions being answered … but the influence of the Queensland Government and its Racing Minister still holds critical sway in terms of securing any long term prosperity for the industry.

Right now, they are failing in that role while seemingly showing a lack of understanding of the fact that for racing to not get ahead is as much to their own detriment as that of anyone else … making their inaction on certain fronts all the more disturbing.

What will it take for the Queensland Government to come to the party?

Or have they already sent their RSVP and racing just can't believe they are not coming!

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Queensland Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe … will he stand up and be counted and rise above the form of his predecessors?
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