Keeping Politicians honest is most certainly an oxymoron.
But let’s go back to the title of the thread. ‘Is Winston a worthy Minister for racing?’ It’s really a hypothetical question and can only be answered restrospectively and according to his performance which will, of course, be judged differently by different people according to their standing within the industry. Never is everyone able to benefit fully or equally.
I’ve watched his performances in Northland for a considerable time in a number of spheres. He ‘knows’ about education because he was a secondary school teacher. He ‘knows’ the law because he was a lawyer, however neither of these pursuits has he practised for over forty years. Things have changed considerably in that time to the extent that if you’re not up with the play, you’re simply ‘not up with the play’ regardless of the bullshit. Promises made over the years have never come to fruition. Re racing, Winston has spent considerable time at the races, he knows how to bet and all the combinations. He has been to the yearling sales and rubbed shoulders and clinked whiskey glasses with the principals of the industry who persuaded him to inject big money into fillies races to further their own ends which he did, while the Chris Wood’s, Leo Molloys, myself in a very small way and many of you who collectively prop the industry up are simply left lamenting. After a break Winston regains the portfolio probably being a fairly obvious choice but with good timing as the industry is making waves about being in the doldrums and the Messara Report has looked like the saviour of our Aussie counterpart so why would he not link arms and go with it? However New Zealand is very different from the Aussie racing scene and there is no ‘one size fits all’ so the report will not work here without considerable tweaking. This tweaking means Winston must step up and do some research and make some decisions himself – something, in forty-odd years in politics, he has been thus far unable to do. A master of rhetoric announcing a year ago and convincing principals of the industry that stakes were going to double is now smoke in the wind. On the other hand the majority of stakeholders realise something must change but no body, club, committee is prepared to meet the problem head on and make any change. “Why should we? Why don’t they?” A bit selfish if I may say so and not in the best interests of the industry but human nature and ulterior motives generally lies at the basis of these things. Everyone wants a bigger share of the pie but how do we make a bigger pie and what if someone gets a bigger share than them, hence lots of talk but no action certainly in the past year or so. Winston’s current court case means his attention is deflected from his ‘real’ job. It will take up valuable time pre-Christmas, then there will be a couple of months break until the 2020 Parliamentary year kicks in so no sign of Winston except probably at Ellerslie, New Year. Then MP’s start planning their campaign towards the next elections, saying nice things to everyone to cement their platform of voters without actually doing anything and that’s Winston’s whole career in a nutshell. To a great extent racing is it’s own worst enemy, seeing that things have been deteriorating for twenty or more years but failing, as a body, to do anything about it while believing reports from the hierarchy that all was well when it clearly wasn’t. To answer the thread I’d have to say a resounding ‘no’ but what are our options? Given that a minister of housing might be shifted to the education portfolio when he knows sweet FA about either pretty well sums up the situation. In my seventy-odd years I’ve seen the heady days of racing gradually deteriorate without really realising it. Probably the case for many. How can we possibly get a racing minister firstly with a ‘feel’ for the industry then take it to heart not necessarily to make us all wealthy horse owners but to stop the downhill slide of a time-honoured sport? And what, then, will be needed to get the graph trending uphill again? No easy answers, are there?