Racing Industry Bill passes third reading

Winston Peters
Minister for Racing Winston Peters. Photo: Trish Dunell

New Zealand Racing Minister Winston Peters has welcomed the Racing Industry Bill passing its third reading, creating the legislative framework for revitalising the racing industry while limiting the need for future government intervention. “For too long our domestic racing industry has been left to fade into obscurity at the expense of jobs and the passionate people and communities that support it,” Peters said. “The Coalition Government has now delivered on its promise to create a framework that enables the industry to take the reins and move itself forward. With this Bill, responsibility for the future growth of the industry sits with the people who know it best.

The Racing Act 2003 will be repealed and replaced by the new Racing Industry Act 2019. With the passing of the Bill the Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) will be dissolved. TAB NZ will be established as the commercial betting operator, while administrative functions will be devolved to the three racing codes. An updated integrity system will be implemented by the new Racing Integrity Board (RIB) with appropriate independence from the industry. This will include responsibility for ensuring industry compliance with high standards of animal welfare.

The refurbishment and modernisation of racing venues is required for the revitalisation of the racing industry. The Bill supports this by helping the industry to release capital from venues no longer required for racing while ensuring appropriate considerations are made to other community interests in the property.

The Bill underwent several changes during the Select Committee process in which the voices of clubs, jockeys, breeders, owners, trainers, pundits and many others were heard. “Listening carefully to the wide range of submissions from industry made the Bill less prescriptive, and gave greater autonomy to the codes to enter agreements and resolve disputes without Ministerial intervention,” Peters said. “The changes were welcomed, and are consistent with the overall intent of the reforms, namely to give the industry the tools to better manage itself.”

The Committee also recommended Racing New Zealand be established to enable collaboration between the codes and other industry entities for the betterment of the industry. Changes were also made in response to COVID-19. This included naming the current Board of RITA as the interim Board of TAB NZ until a time when new appointments can be made under the new legislative process.

“We must thank the Committee and RITA for their tireless work on this Bill. The gratitude of the whole industry must also be given to John Messara whose report set us on the path that has led us to this moment,” Peters said.

The Racing Industry Bill will come into force on August 1.