Racing industry desperate to put Winston Peters back into Government
Lawrence Gullery 17:06, Sep 18 2020
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters with Cambridge Jockey Club Chief Executive Mark Fraser-Campin; club president Bruce Harvey; Waipā Mayor Jim Mylchreest and deputy mayor Liz Stolywk, at the jockey club in the Waikato.
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The racing industry needs Winston Peters, and the deputy prime minister needs their votes for the coming election.
That was obvious when the New Zealand First leader’s tour bus pulled into Waikato to visit the Cambridge Jockey Club on a wet Friday afternoon.
Trainers, thoroughbred horse breeders, jockeys, racing commentators and float drivers were among about 50 people who rallied to see their racing advocate at short notice.
About 20 metres away was the $13 million all-weather race track Peters had encouraged the club to advance.
New Zealand First list MP Clayton Mitchell with his leader Winston Peters and Tauranga candidate Erika Harvey, taking a look over the new all-weather race track being constructed at the Cambridge Jockey Club.
The track surface was just a few months away from completion, with racing earmarked for May 2021.
Jammed inside the small meeting room, his supporter base was worried what would happen to them if New Zealand First wasn’t part of the next Government.
“If you’re not there at the next election, where are we going to get that support at Government level, an influential Government level, from parties who had previously shown no interest in the racing industry which is a huge part of our lives,” racing commentator George Simon asked.
Peters said he wasn’t worried about losing the election.
Candidate Erika Harvey and leader Winston Peters meet racing supporter, Florence Shearman, after the presentation to visitors at the Cambridge Jockey Club.
“We just have to win, for the next three years, and embed these reforms in, because once they are embedded, I think racing has got a great chance of success.”
Peters was speaking about the governance structure reforms under the new Racing Industry Act.
The question of what next for New Zealand First seemed to trigger an allergic reaction from Peters, when he met to take questions from journalists after his presentation to the club.
He was asked if there was a leadership succession plan for his party, if he decided to step down after the next election.
Cambridge Jockey Club Chief Executive Mark Fraser-Campin said without Winston Peters, the racing industry would be in dire straights. This photo in August shows progress on the all-weather track.
“Why do you ask that question?” Peters said.
“Who has been campaigning the hardest? Who is doing thousands of kilometres when others are not?
“Nobody at any of my meetings has asked me that question. It’s not a good question to ask.
“People don’t want to know about that, they want to know about my policies.”
Peters also didn’t like answering questions around who at the club might have donated money to New Zealand First.
“No idea. I don’t talk to them.”
He suggested journalists ask other parties where their political donations had come from.
He was asked again, this time by journalists, how worried he was about the future for the racing industry, if he wasn’t around to be its champion for another three years.
“We plan to be here after the election and I am asking them (racing supporters) to make sure I am.”
Earlier, Peters did give his view on National’s tax cut policy and the Labour’s proposal to introduce a higher tax bracket for those earning $180,000 or more.
“National will never be elected on a tax cut policy and instead should be looking at smart policies to grow exports, manufacturing, and incentivise growth, that would work.”
He said a tax cut policy in a time of economic crisis is "simply not going to work".
He didn’t back Labour’s higher tax rate for those earning more, again reiterating that moving people into employment was the best way to recoup the millions of dollars used to support the country during the pandemic.
Earlier in the day Peters had presented to the Hamilton Grey Power meeting and in the later afternoon planned to be at the Waihi Beach Information Centre.
Speaking after the visit, Cambridge Jockey Club President Bruce Harvey said Peters was the only politician who had made an effort to help racing, in his 40 years experience in the industry.
“He has made a difference and we need him back to see things through. He said if he is elected he will be the racing minister again and I really think he is the best man for the job.
“Today’s turn out shows that, we only found out he was visiting at 5pm yesterday but we’ve had a lot of people come to hear him talk.”
The club’s all-weather track came in for some scrutiny when specialists from Australia were given travel exemptions to New Zealand, to work on the surface component of the project.
But club chief executive officer Mark Fraser-Campin said work could have stalled another 12 months if the special visas weren’t granted.
”A month ago we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to get the guys over here, but we were lucky enough to get an exemption, get the visas and they’ve come out of managed isolation last Tuesday
“Our focus now is to get the track finished.”