THE Queensland state elections are just around the corner and in an ever-changing horse racing industry, knowing where to place your vote to ensure the sport thrives in the sunshine state is pivotal.
Racing enthusiasts know that the industry up north needs a solid revamp.
The state of the Eagle Farm track has been a major headache for Racing Queensland (RQ), and country racing in the state is well behind both NSW and Victoria.
The rhetoric coming from both major political parties is that the sport is an integral part of both the economy and the community, and have dedicated a large chunk of their budget to country racing in particular.
RQ CEO Elliot Forbes said “Racing Queensland is pleased that all political parties have recognised racing’s important economic and social contributions to the state.”
The parties are talking the talk, but what vote will give the industry the best bang for your political buck?
HorseBetting.com.au spoke to the major players in the Queensland state election to give you the best opportunity to make an informed decision ahead of Saturday’s polls.
Queensland Election Odds
Online bookmakers like Sportsbet allow you to bet on the Queensland State Election, which is great news for the eagle-eyed punters who have kept watch on the landscape in the sunshine state.
As expected, the odds reflect a two-horse race been the major parties, with One Nation the lone outsider at the $21 mark via Sportsbet.
Australian Labor Party
The incumbent holders of the state, Labor has publicly declared it will contribute $17.5 million per year for four years to fully fund the cost of country non-TAB thoroughbred racing for Queensland. This pledge complements the current support package of country racing, which was introduced two years ago.
Labor pledged $21 million over four years in 2015, but that only partially funded non-TAB thoroughbred racing.
Racing Queensland CEO Dr Eliot Forbes said the election commitment of $70 million over four years would provide security for country racing.
“The total package would allow us to redirect funds from non-commercially viable operations into areas that will drive wagering, improve the racing product, and boost returns for all,” Dr Forbes.
Dr Forbes said it it is vital that RQ maintains the pace alongside NSW and Victoria, which continually look to channel funds into ensuring the industry grows and thrives at all levels.
“We recognise that our prize money levels need to be competitive with interstate markets and this money would help to address that and improve returns to all stakeholders including owners, trainers and jockeys.”
Katter’s Australia Party and One Nation confirmed its support of the package.
Liberal National Party
Recognising the importance of country racing – not just to the thoroughbred industry but the growth of the the state – the LNP has also pledged over $70 million to help boost the sport in Queensland.
However, unlike Labor’s commitment, there is no true framework in place in regards to how that money will be allocated.
“We have seen statements that commit to $72.9 million over four years for country racing and a boost of $24 million for prize money and incentives for breeders, inclusive of a $16.5 million package for country racing, referred to as additional funding,” Dr Forbes said.
LNP has also intimated to RQ that it will shift the power structure within the industry.
“If the LNP wins Government, their policy suggests a nine-month period for consultation and development of a new governance model of individual code bodies for thoroughbred, greyhound and harness racing.”
Shadow Racing Minister Jon Krause said the willingness to work alongside the governing racing body is a significant point of difference.
“Unlike Labor, we will work alongside the industry, not against them, because they want to see their sport thrive more than anyone else,” Mr Krause said.
“We are falling further behind the big racing states of New South Wales and Victoria and it’s time we make the changes we need to grow the industry and compete with our interstate rivals.”
Mr Krause believes increasing the amount of prize money in the state will help aid the growth of the industry.
“Our $24 million prize money boost will attract more investment, create jobs across Queensland and restore confidence to a shattered industry.
“We see this announcement as an important circuit breaker to kick-start the industry and get it back on track.”
The Greens invariably oppose all things racing across all three codes, but the typically-outspoken political party has been quiet since in the lead-up to Saturday’s election.
The political far-left political party is yet to comment on the major political parties pledging money towards country racing in Queensland, but the Greens have had a well-maintained stance on banning the greyhound industry in the sunshine state. The next logical step would be moving on to the other racing codes if they are successful in removing dog racing in the state.
The Greens also support an end to jumps racing nationwide – a code of racing Queensland ended in the early 1900’s – which suggests to us that flat racing could be next on the agenda.
HorseBetting.com.au has contacted the office of Senator Andrew Bartlett for comment on the additional funds promise from both major parties, but is yet to receive formal comment.