From the trainers association newsletter about the racing bill
Ian McKelvie, National MP and their Spokesperson for Racing sat on the Select Committee.
He sent a letter out to racing enthusiasts earlier this week which encapsulates most of the changes to be made to the bill. We are very appreciative to Ian and all the Select Committee members who worked hard to get the required amendments through and keep the Bill on schedule.
Following is Ian's letter:
9 June 2020
Dear Racing Enthusiast
As National’s Spokesperson for Racing, I thought it was important to write to you to provide an update on proposed changes to the structure of the Racing Industry.
As you will be aware, the Racing Industry Bill was introduced by the Rt. Hon. Winston Peters in December 2019 as the second stage of a restructuring the industry. It was in response to a report prepared by John Messara recommending substantial structural changes but, unfortunately, when the Bill was introduced, it bore little resemblance to the Messara recommendations.
The racing industry was naturally outraged and have been critical of the Minister for allowing this to occur. In response to this, our National members on the select committee - myself, Andrew Bayly and Tim Van de Molen - having listened to the submissions and spoken to many racing people, set to work to get the Bill into a state that we believe is what the Racing community want. We have led the reform of the Bill and have succeeded in making the following changes to the Bill:
TAB: We have amended the TAB board appointment arrangements to ensure all the Racing Codes and sports bodies have the ability to make specific nominations (based on merit) to sit on the TAB board and we have also built in an appropriate degree of accountability in setting the TAB’s Statement of Intent and reviewing its Business Plans.
Intellectual Property (IP): We have removed the proposed transfer of the IP to the TAB (it is currently owned by the Codes), a move which was heavily supported by the industry.
Racing NZ: John Messara recommended a coordinating body called Racing NZ (to represent the Codes) be established to undertake a number of roles, such as setting race meeting dates and to act as the bridge between the TAB and the Codes. The initial draft of the Bill only provided for this as an option, but the Bill now specifically incorporates this arrangement and clarifies Racing NZ’s role and responsibilities.
Sale of Surplus Race tracks. There are eight clauses in particular (clauses 19 to 27 which relate to the sale of surplus racetracks) which we were very concerned about. We have succeeded in significantly altering the arrangements by adding substantial protections for provincial courses. There is now a 3 stage process:
Decision to withdraw racing licence: this is a Code/TAB decision and occurs normally as a result of an unsafe track, poor facilities or inability to attract sufficient horses to meetings.
At a later date the Racing Code may wish to sell the land of a Racing Club and, after negotiation with the Club, vest the proceeds back with the Code. At this juncture, if there are grounds that there is significant community interest in the use of the land then the Minister must appoint an independent reviewer to assess a number of specific factors, including how the track is used by the community, whether it will remain as a training facility, the level of financial contributions to its development by the local community, ownership interests in the land, etc. Only after this can the Minister then decide whether or not it should remain in community ownership and control. There is an appeal process to the High Court.
If the race course does not meet the threshold in 2 or the Racing Club offers no resistance, the Minister must then undertake an assessment having regard for all the factors listed in 2 as well as assessing the costs of removal of the buildings; whether any payment should be made to community or other ownership interests. Again, the Minister can only then decide if the land should be sold and whether the arrangements are fair. Should a decision be taken to sell the surplus land, the Bill is clear that any sale proceeds are to be reinvested into upgrading existing or constructing new racing facilities in the same region. Again there is an appeal process to the High Court.
We believe the new arrangements provide sufficient protections where there has been (and will continue to be) strong community use of a race course but the arrangements will also allow for a proper and fair settlement of unutilised race courses over time.
We are very keen to ensure the industry thrives as a result of these changes and very much hope that the industry will continue to get the very best people involved in the leadership positions as a result of the Bill passing into Law.
Finally, the international gaming market is extraordinarily dynamic and will need to be expertly managed by the new TAB board to ensure New Zealand racing remains relevant and has a sustainable income base to ensure its future and that of the breeding Industry.
Thank you for your help and advice and we wish you all the best in the coming season.
MP for Rangitikei