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Racing for Change

Considering casting a racing-friendly vote in this year's general election?

While racing isn't deemed a major issue for any of the political parties, some have released racing policies.

Each recognises how significant a contribution the racing industry makes to the national economy, both in terms of the $1.6 billion to the GDP and the 17,000 jobs supported through the industry.

With the New Zealand General Election (September 20) just a week away, below is a brief overview on each of the major parties policies on racing.

National Party
The National Government says its priority is securing a "sustainable future" for the industry and has vowed to "ensure good governance through a comprehensive review of all internal costs."

It will maintain the Racing Safety Development Fund, worth up to $1 million to racing clubs, and ensure revenue from non-casino gaming machines continues to benefit the racing industry by around $8 to $12 million a year.

It plans to address the issue of gambling leakage as more New Zealanders gamble on offshore websites, depriving the industry of crucial revenue, and to work on providing more certainty on tax rules, ensuring Inland Revenue works with the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders' Association to clarify the interpretation of taxation issues.

Labour Party
Labour says change is needed to stop the decline in the industry.

It has vowed to pass legislation to stop overseas betting websites that are wagering on New Zealand races avoiding paying tax here and denying revenue to the industry.

It says it will also work with the industry to ensure its integrity is of the highest order, to promote safe practices and endeavour to reduce injuries and to provide opportunities. It will allow all parts of the industry to be involved in reviewing the status of the industry to establish the best way forward.

New Zealand First
New Zealand First will return a greater proportion of industry taxation to the racing codes and "urgently" review the operations and costs of the New Zealand Racing Board.

It will look to restore the prize money initiatives it did when in Government in 2005-2008 in regards to marquee races and introduce a second-tier meeting category where stakes are a minimum of $15,000, as well as helping the industry improve the international status of Group One races here and the appeal of New Zealand racing.

It would also continue to support the Racing Safety Development Fund to the tune of $1.5 million, while addressing the tax laws relating to the industry as well as the loss in revenue to overseas wagering.

Green Party
While the Green Party doesn't have a specific racing policy, preferring a gambling policy, it believes Government assistance should go to parts of the industry struggling for survival, rather to advantage those which were "fantastically successful."

It says New Zealand Racing Board funds should be released to "meet the needs of racing in a fair and equitable manner" before the taxpayer was called on to subsidise the industry, while it would stop the practice of funds from non-casino gaming machine gambling going towards premier race stakes and divert that money to the development of racing infrastructure, particularly to "support struggling and rural racing clubs."

It would also amend the Racing Act to ensure that the New Zealand Racing Board exhibits a sense of social responsibility with regard to all the communities in which racing takes place.

NZ Independent Coalition
NZ Independent Coalition says it will lift stakes for Wednesday meetings to a minimum of $15,000 and to $30,000 for Saturdays, as well as ensuring at least one $100,000 race a fortnight.

It would also ensure the Government provided a modern centralised venue, with multi-use grandstand, all-weather track, internal entertainment venues and modern stabling, suggesting Te Rapa was a "logical venue."

Leader Brendan Horan said the industry needed a complete overhaul and he would address leakage of betting revenue offshore and the Racing Act, while also providing tax cuts for breeders and returning more industry taxation to the racing codes.

The Mana Internet Party do not have a racing policy, while the New Zealand Racing Desk received no response from the Maori Party, ACT or United Future.


- NZ Racing Desk