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National Party announces racing policy

Dr Don Brash and his Racing Spokesman Lindsay Tisch today announced the National Party's policy on racing at a media conference in Wellington. The announcement is reprinted in full below.

Peter Hutt, president of the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders' Association (NZTBA), welcomed the National Party announcement. "This is exciting news for everyone involved in thoroughbred breeding and racing. It's especially significant for owners, breeders and trainers whose investment underpins the industry's contribution to national employment and exports."

"We congratulate the National Party on responding to the fundamental issues holding back our development and look forward to hearing the other parties' policies."

Michael Martin, NZTBA chief executive, said, "The racing industry needs assurance that consistent taxation principles will be applied to the total gaming sector. The National Party policy on duty recognises that a correction is well overdue."

"Accelerated depreciation rates for stallions and older mares will give breeders confidence to re-invest in bloodstock. It is important for the development of our local industry that a good percentage of stallions are owned and managed by New Zealanders so the returns remain in this country."

"Our members are demanding a clear direction for the industry's future. We eagerly await the policies of all other parties leading up to the election."

RACING POLICY

National recognises that racing, breeding and ownership are facets of a unique agribusiness that contributes to our overall economy through employment, exports and related industries

RACING

Thoroughbred Racing and Standard Bred Racing have been in relative decline for decades and there is a need for adjustment in the industry as consumers have greater choices over how to spend their time and leisure dollars. Greyhound racing has enjoyed some growth.

The proliferation of newer, competitive gaming products such as casinos, gaming machines and lotto has reduced racing¡¦s share of the gaming dollar.

The rise of offshore betting and interactive wagering has completely changed the competitive situation. Wagering is now driven largely by different rates of betting duty.

New Zealand Racing contributes $1.5 billion per annum to the economy and supports 18,300 full time jobs and exports $130 million of horses.

Racing has enjoyed a special status, with its own legislation and Minister, but this status has held the industry back, preserving the past rather than preparing the industry for the future.

THOROUGHBRED INDUSTRY

The most significant issue for the New Zealand Thoroughbred breeding industry is its competitiveness with offshore breeding nations. During the period 1995-2003 the level of New Zealand investment in new stallions decreased from $7.9 million to $2.9 million.

The trend is to lease (rent) shuttle stallions from foreign owners in the Northern Hemisphere rather than buying. In 2004 $13.9 million was paid to overseas owners for shuttle stallions, which was fully tax deductible. Aggregated depreciation for stallions was withdrawn in 1986 while Australia has embraced write-offs. The current write-down for stallions is 25% per year.

National will:

*Allow 100% Write-off of stallions over 2 years

BROODMARES

Currently broodmares used for breeding purposes are allowed to be fully depreciated from age two (or higher) to age 11.
However older mares approximately 300 start breeding on or after age 12 and have a current minimum write-off period of three years.

There is justification for writing-off these old mares in full once they reach 12 years as they do in Australia.

National will:

*Allow 100% write-off from age 12 years

GAMING DUTIES

In 1995 the National Government reduced duty from 5.5% of turnover to 20% of betting profit. Casinos pay 4% of betting profit on casino wins.

There is inequity with respect to taxation compared with other gaming competitors and the industry is struggling to survive in the wider competitive entertainment sector.

Both Racing and Casino duty should be the same and based on betting profits. This will allow Racing to deliver on its domestic potential and realise its international competitiveness.

National will:

*Align Racing betting duty with that paid by Casinos (estimated fiscal cost $25m)

DISTRIBUTION OF OFFSHORE TAB PROFITS

Section 16 of the 2003 Racing Act states that the distribution of offshore profits be distributed to the 3 codes on the basis of domestic turnover.

National will:

*Develop a new consensus on Section 16 taking into account the reduction in duty so no code is disadvantaged.


- Susan Archer