I rise to speak in support of the Racing Legislation Amendment (Racing Integrity
Assurance) Bill 2009. I declare from the outset my membership of the Geelong
The racing industry is tremendously important to the state of
Victoria. It can lay claim to the creation of some 70 000 job opportunities per
annum and contributes in excess of $2 billion annually to the state’s economy.
The racing industry is extremely important to rural and regional Victoria, as we
have heard from a number of speakers today.
This was shown to be so most recently by the
extensive involvement of country racing clubs in the discussion paper around the
racing industry’s plan for the future of country race meetings and training
infrastructure. This is the first time rural and regional racing clubs have had
a five-year blueprint that outlines training track structure, maintenance
funding, race dates and club meeting funding.
This government understands the importance of the industry. As
a result of that the government has undertaken a massive funding program which
will provide significant improvement to rural and regional infrastructure,
leading to improved racing and increased participation. In turn, it will lead to
increased employment opportunities. It will also lead to better and safer race
track facilities, including training venues, for racing participants and for
local communities. It will also provide for better racing in Victoria, for
example, in field sizes.
And of course funding has been provided for drought-proofing
projects to reduce the reliance on town water supplies.
In the electorate of Western Victoria Region in recent times
there has been evidence of that funding. The list of projects I have is by no
means exhaustive, but it includes the Melton harness racing track coming
on-stream, a grant for the new Ararat jockey and race day administration
building of $154 000, the Ballarat irrigation infrastructure and dam upgrade of
$210 000, the Ballarat sand track upgrade of $54 000, the Ballarat uphill
training track design fee of $36 000, the Geelong dog training track of $105
000, the Geelong stormwater harvesting project of $266 000, the Warrnambool
practice start gates of close to $50 000, the Werribee international horse
centre of $1.12 million, and the Wimmera race day starting gates and trailer of
A number of other recent announcements have been made in
Ballarat as well as the announcement of funding of $418 500 for the Hamilton
harness track upgrade. In addition, there was an announcement at the beginning
of this week with respect to Stawell. Government support for this industry is
significant, even in the electorate of Western Victoria Region. But it is not
just funding that the Brumby Labor government is committed to; it is also
committed to promoting Victoria’s racing industry and doing everything possible
to ensure that the industry is of the highest integrity and the highest quality
Rather than continually talking down the industry, which seems
to be fairly characteristic of the shadow Minister for Racing — —
Mr Lenders — Emblematic in fact.
Ms TIERNEY — Emblematic indeed, Treasurer — the Brumby
Labor government is prepared and committed to supporting this vital industry and
has shown this time and again. The legislation before us today is further
evidence of the government’s commitment to improve the racing industry in
As we have heard from other speakers, in early March 2008 the
Deputy Premier and Minister for Racing appointed His Honour Judge Gordon Lewis
to advise the government on matters relating to the establishment of an
integrity body independent of Racing Victoria Limited. In his report to the
government Judge Lewis noted, and I understand that Mr Tee has already given
this quote but as it is an important one and underpins the basis of what has
happened, I again quote:
- The prevailing view was that the Victorian racing industry was the
Australian leader, both commercially and in relation to integrity, and the
stewards themselves, in all codes, enjoy an excellent reputation, for their
approach to integrity and its enforcement.
That statement appears on page 10 of the report. However, Judge
Lewis went on to make recommendations that will further improve the integrity of
the racing industry in Victoria. There were 63 recommendations in the Lewis
report, many of which did not require legislative change and have already been
implemented or are in the process of being implemented.
However, under the legislation we are debating today the
implementation of the recommendations include, firstly, the establishment of a
racing integrity commissioner; secondly, establishing a new appeals and
discretionary structure for the racing industry; and thirdly, repealing the ban
on the transmission of betting odds from racecourses.
The establishment of a racing integrity commissioner will both
symbolise and make practical the highest possible integrity assurance across the
three codes of racing. Judge Lewis recommended that a single appeals and
disciplinary board for all three codes be established to achieve greater
consistencies across the codes. However, it was clear from consultations and
discussions with the racing industry controlling bodies that they believed the
disciplinary process would be distanced from each code’s governance. A
compromise was struck which satisfied Judge Lewis; all three boards will be
administered by a single registrar.
The purpose of this bill is to facilitate safeguards and
provisions to achieve the highest possible integrity in Victoria’s racing
industry. In speaking about integrity and responsible behaviour, I note that
through the entire process of the country training facilities discussion paper
the member for South-West Coast employed scaremongering tactics throughout the
state while this government, Racing Victoria Limited and country racing clubs
worked in partnership to produce what I think is truly a fantastic result for
the Victorian racing industry.
The shadow Minister for Racing also went on radio, claiming
that he knew of people who had not been able to have their say during the course
of Judge Lewis’s inquiry and subsequent report. When contacted by Judge Lewis,
the member for South-West Coast simply could not supply the names of those
We had the opportunity to make oral or written submissions to
the Lewis inquiry. Given the media coverage that the member for South-West Coast
was promulgating at the time, one would have thought that he would have put in a
submission or been available as a witness or to provide oral evidence.
It seems that he is not particularly interested in the racing
industry, certainly not to the degree that he professes, because he did nothing.
He did not provide an oral or a written submission. But it is not just
government members who have commented on the shadow minister’s behaviour.
The chief executive officer of Racing Victoria, Rob Hines,
stated on 4 February 2009 in the Benalla Ensign:
- Attempts by Dr Napthine to politicise what is a critical business and
community matter for Victorian racing’s future is unhelpful and inappropriate.
We all wait with anticipation for the shadow Minister for
Racing to make some constructive contribution to the future of the racing
industry in this state, but in the meantime it is this government that will
continue to prove its ongoing commitment to what is such an important industry
in this state.
It is this government that understands that the racing industry
is a major employer and that it plays a significant role in the community and is
part of the fabric of the community, particularly in regional Victoria. In
saying that, I commend this bill to the house.