My adjournment matter is for the attention of the Minister for Racing, and it relates to the bolstered Victorian Racing Industry Fund (VRIF). Members in this place know that racing is an important economic driver in Victoria, generating $2.8 billion of economic activity and supporting more than 26 000 full-time jobs, many of which are in regional and rural Victoria. In fact, as I understand it, close to 80 per cent of trainers and breeders call regional Victoria home. Country racing contributes nearly $1 billion a year to economic output.
In the 2015–16 budget $72 million in new funding was directed to the Victorian Racing Industry Fund and over $14 million left unspent since the commencement of the fund was carried over. The Victorian Racing Industry Fund is funded by returning unclaimed wagering dividends and on-course wagering taxes to industry. The three racing codes, racing clubs and other key stakeholders have a say in the growing Victorian racing industry.
This $86 million will enable the government to focus on integrity and governance programs, upgrades to infrastructure and facilities, particularly in regional areas, and race day attraction programs. The chief executive of Racing Victoria, Bernard Saundry, who represents 70 000 participants and 14 member groups, welcomed the announcement of the VRIF. He said that this fund:
… helps deliver our strategic plan to grow and develop Victorian thoroughbred racing, whilst ensuring that Victoria can continue racing at 62 country racetracks which are vital for the local community.
The chairman of Harness Racing Victoria, Ken Latta, also commented positively on what the Andrews government’s budget has produced in terms of the industry. I note that the budget was handed down on the opening day, Brierly Day, of the Warrnambool carnival this year. This carnival is a shining example of the economic benefit of racing to Victoria.
The action I seek of the minister is that he advise me on how the government intends to use the $86 million from the Victorian Racing Industry Fund to strengthen regional racing and ensure a continued economic benefit to country communities.