UPDATE at 4:20 PM | MELBOURNE Cup races will go ahead in Queensland after the State Government struck a last-minute deal with Racing Queensland to avoid further industrial action.
Under the deal, prize money levels for Queensland thoroughbred TAB race meetings will increase by $26 million.
Racing Queensland will deliver the increase in two stages, with an immediate $18 million increase on November 1 followed by a further $8 million increase in six months.
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Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said the cash injection was in exchange for a commitment from the Thoroughbred Alliance to continue discussions and sign up to broader industry reforms.
“As I’ve said previously, the long-term challenges the industry faces did not arise overnight,” Ms Trad said.
“There is no quick fix here, but what we’ve seen today are some positive steps in the right direction.
“We’ve had some very frank and respectful conversations this morning and there’s now general agreement that industry sustainability can only come from reform.
“We’ll now work closely with industry to explore what those changes might look like.”
Ms Trad thanked Roundtable Chair Gary Pemberton for helping to secure a deal that she said will deliver great benefits for the Queensland racing industry.
“In delivering these additional funds, we have increased prize money by 37 per cent since January 2018,” she said.
Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe thanked the owners, breeders, trainers and jockey representatives for their willingness to sign up to further reforms to improve the industry.
“I was also very impressed with the positive spirit of cooperation from industry participants at today’s Roundtable,” the Minister said.
“The prize money increases announced today are in addition to the $12 million boost earlier this year.
“We believe racing has a positive future in Queensland and I look forward to working with stakeholders from all three codes to build a stronger and more prosperous industry in this State.”
Thoroughbred Alliance spokesman Cameron Partington welcomed the prize money increases as a tremendous win for the industry.
“This is a great victory for Queensland thoroughbred participants and I welcome the government’s willingness to negotiate which has helped deliver today’s result,” he said.
“We’ve stood united in our demands and we’re satisfied that today’s outcome will deliver for all participants – owners, trainers, jockeys and breeders, not to mention the thousands of workers employed in the industry.
“Prize money are the wages of industry and this increase will be music to the ears of our members.
“The Alliance is happy to continue working with government to develop further options for reform which will make for a stronger and more prosperous racing industry.
“We’ve shown what we can achieve when we stand united, and it’s now all systems go for Melbourne Cup day, which is fantastic news for all Queensland racegoers and punters.”
FIRST at 7:00 AM (by Shanee Dobeson) | A roundtable will be held in Queensland today in a bid to sort out the challenges facing the racing industry.
The state’s Deputy Premier Jackie Trad and Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe called the meeting with thoroughbred racing owners, jockeys, trainers and breeders following their recent strike action over a new 15 per cent betting tax which they say is affecting their prize money.
The round table will be chaired by independent racing identity Gary Pemberton, who is a horse owner himself.
“Racing is important to Queensland and to our economy, but it’s no secret that racing hasn’t been at its best for a long time and continues to face challenges,” Ms Trad and Mr Hinchliffe said in a joint statement released overnight.
“The issues the industry faces haven’t arisen overnight, nor can they be fixed overnight.
“Our door has always been open. We need to work together to look at how we can ensure Queensland racing is sustainable into the future.”
It comes after Saturday’s races around the country, including here on the Gold Coast, were cancelled after industry participants began striking over more prize money.
“We know the industry is seeking further increases in prize money and we will continue to talk to representatives from all codes, including harness and greyhound racing, in the coming days and weeks,” Ms Trad and Mr Hinchliffe said.
It’s reported this weekend’s strike action will result in a $100 million loss in betting turnover alone.