Why Section 15 of the Racing Bill must be changed

Finally it would appear concerns expressed regarding Section 15 of the
Racing Bill are beginning to be heard and understood by a wide range of people involved in the Racing Industry.

However, with the Bill being bumped up the Order Paper those expressions
of concern may well be too little too late as the Bill could well have appeared for its second reading by the time this appears. Assuming there is still time for one last attempt to have government see reason it is probably worthwhile clarifying a few issues.

Firstly, the alliance of breeders, owners, trainers and racing clubs who
oppose section 15 do not oppose the Bill per se.

Secondly, this same alliance asks only that the offending section be
amended to something approaching that which would have been law had the first Racing Amendment Bill been enacted when originally planned in 1998. This would allow the Board to distribute profits
from overseas racing as and how it sees fit.

This really does not seem too much to ask of a Bill which, according to the joint submission from the Combined Racing Industry Group (the RIB, TAB, and
three code bodies), "is directed primarily at changing the governance of the racing industry."

Indeed this message of the industry being in a position to govern itself
is oft repeated throughout the submission. Consider the following:
"The function of the Raicng Bill is to facilitate self-governance of the industry and to provide forums in which industry sectors can air their grievances and find acceptable solutions without government involvement. The Racing Bill is intended to empower the racing industry to respond to its own problems as they arise."

It would seem from this the Combined Racing Industry Group favour the industry being in charge of its own destiny and capable of tackling problems in-house rather than involving
the government of the day. And this theme is reiterated further on:
"The Racing Bill provides a real chance for the Government to address once and for all the problems that have plagued the racing industry in New Zealand. The
new structure will enable the racing industry to go forward in a manner that overcomes the current statutory and other obstacles the industry faces."

Despite this wish to remove statutory barriers and provide the industry
with the means to guide its own future free from government intervention the Combined Racing Industry Group have, through their acceptance of Section 15 effectively ensured the new Board becomes nothing more than a rubber-stamping entity when it comes to a significant part of the industry's income.

If what we desire is a Board which is capable of functioning as a proper Board should then why are we not recognising the importance of the industry income derived from
overseas profits? If industry income is not deemed important then what
How can the racing industry be empowered if the Board itself is not
empowered to make decisions such as how to distribute this money?

One also has to question whether the politicians realise the ramifications
of this section also. On one hand they have the RIB, TAB and three code bodies telling them to rest assured racing will be able to sort out its own problems once you pass this legislation, and on the other they support them setting in law the distribution of a large part of the industry's income.

If Section 15 stays the new Board will be able to sit pitifully wringing their hands when tackled over the distribution formula and rightfully claim that they cannot do anything, it is in legislation and therefore the politicians' problem.

So much for self-governance and finding acceptable solutions without government
involvement - sign off on Section 15 and the politicians will find themselves into the proverbial up to their necks!

Mary McCarty has been a fearless commentator on New Zealand racing for more than a decade. Her column in the "Friday Flash" is widely read and frequently quoted throughout the industry.
From a family of successful horse trainers and enthusiastic racegoers, Mary has been a racing journalist for most of her working life, manages the very popular and successful Tracktalk Syndicates and is currently the Executive Officer of the New Zealand Trainers' Association.

- Mary McCarty