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Racing Minister Winston Peters speaking during the third reading of the bill in Parliament today.

Racing Industry Bill passes - MPs noting urgency needed in appointing new board

The Racing Industry Bill was passed in Parliament this morning with MPs indicating a need for urgency in appointing a new board to govern the beleaguered industry.

The new Racing Industry Act 2019 will come into force on August 1, replacing the Racing Act 2003 and will see the Racing Industry Transition Agency dissolved.

TAB NZ will be established as the commercial betting operator, while administrative functions will be devolved to the three racing codes.

In debate during the third reading, with Parliament sitting under urgency, both Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie and Hunua MP Andrew Bayly asked Racing Minister Winston Peters how long it would take to appoint a new board.

McKelvie: “There is an urgency to get people who understand the gaming industry on the board.”

The current board of RITA is scheduled to stay as the interim board of TAB NZ until the new Bill gets Royal Assent. In a statement earlier this month Peters said the directors’ terms would end on the enactment of the Bill or on June 30, 2021 - whichever came first.

Peters said it was over to the industry to work out the time frame - one of the features of the new Bill was that it limited the need for future government intervention while creating the legislative framework for revitalising the industry.

Bayly also sought assurances from Peters that the selection panel which appointed the board would have the right professional expertise, to which Peters replied he was sure it would be capable of eliminating the chaff and seeking excellence.

“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.”

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.

Peters said the refurbishment and modernisation of racing venues was required and 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 the industry made the Bill less prescriptive, and gave greater autonomy to the codes to enter agreements and resolve disputes without ministerial intervention. 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.”

A new body Racing New Zealand will be established to enable collaboration between the codes and other industry entities for the betterment of the industry.

Peters thanked the Select Committee, the 900 plus submissions which contributed to strengthening the Bill and RITA for their tireless work.

“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.”

Our runners this week: How our trainer rates them

Lisa Latta

Lisa’s comments

Saturday at Awapuni

Race 5: Lincoln’s Kruz
1.13pm

“He has trained on well since his trial. The track is going to be very testing (heavy 11) on Saturday and he is untried in these conditions but there’s not a lot of exposed form in the field and, if he handles the track, I’d expect him to be right in the thick of it.”

Race 8: Platinum Rapper
2.53pm

“We’ve decided to go with the 3kg claim of Temyia Taiaroa in what is a strong field. She will come down to 52kg which will really help her on the heavy track. She has had a jumpout and a trial to prepare for this so, with the right run, should be right in the mix.”

Race 9: Lincoln Dreamer
3.28pm

“He has Kozzi Asano up so will claim 1kg which will be a help. He handles wet tracks and has won on a heavy track before. This may be a bit short of his best distance but I expect him to get back in the running and be doing his best work late. He has been working well and I’m looking forward to seeing him back at the races on a wet track.”

Race 10: Benny Lincoln
4.02pm

“The field isn’t very strong but he has had only one jumpout so I am expecting he will improve a lot from the run. He handled the track well at the jumpouts so I think he will handle wet ground, but he may be one run away. Kozzi Asano will claim 1kg.”