To: Transport and Infrastructure Select Committee

Matamata Racing Club Inc. (MRC) welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the Select Committee on the Racing Industry Bill.

MRC is New Zealand’s largest combined racing and training facility, located in thoroughbred racing and breeding heartland in the eastern Waikato township of Matamata. On an annual basis MRC conducts at least 14 race meetings and a number of trial meetings. Additionally, the MRC training facility operates 365 days a year, providing for the needs of some 40 licensed trainers whose horses collectively make up an estimated 10 per cent of total New Zealand thoroughbred raceday starters.

MRC’s annual payroll for staffing of the training operation alone is in excess of $600,000, while the overall economic contribution of racing and training activities aligned to the Matamata facility can be measured in millions of dollars. The responsible management of an operation such as the Matamata Racecourse requires huge capital and maintenance spending for the provision of quality racing and training facilities.

Investment in racing is underscored by two primary elements – infrastructure and race stakes. Infrastructure provisions are essential in at least maintaining (and ideally improving) racetrack surfaces and associated amenities, while racehorse ownership depends directly on returns from stakes. In the current environment stakes are stagnant and in real terms trending downwards when factored against continually rising costs.

MRC, along with its dependents, is just one example of the absolute need for a strong and sustainable racing industry. MRC is making this submission to the Racing Industry Bill, in the hope that this one opportunity to ensure the findings and spirit of the 2018 Messara Report are truly reflected in fit-for-purpose legislation.

MRC considers there are parts of the proposed Bill which require attention, some of which are identified as follows:

  • While the racing portfolio is currently held by a Minister who understands industry issues, there is a concern at the proposed level of Ministerial and Government oversight of the racing industry and the subsequent restrictions on the codes to manage their own business. Matters such as the racing calendar, partnering with an offshore betting provider and the venue plan should not be Ministerial decisions but must include direct and effective input from the codes.
  • In similar vein and given the absolute need to ensure code interests are taken into full and proper account in the management of what is the industry’s key revenue provider, the TAB, the appointments process to the proposed TAB NZ Board must also include direct and effective input from the codes.
  • MRC opposes the giving to TAB NZ of all IP associated with racing information. MRC is of the view that each code owns its own Intellectual Property and this should be retained to ensure codes, clubs and other relevant stakeholders gain maximum return, both in publicising racing and generating revenues, from its use.

The efforts of RITA in its genuine desire for a beneficial industry overhaul and the Department of Internal Affairs in drafting the Bill have been considerable in reaching this crucial stage. However the codes and affiliated stakeholders who depend on a strong and responsibly managed governing body must be assured that every element of the proposed legislation is underwritten by defined wording to safeguard the interests of those groups known collectively as The Racing Industry.

On behalf of the Board, Members and Management of the Matamata Racing Club, I thank the Select Committee for considering the content of this submission in its deliberations.

Dennis Ryan,
Chairman MRC Inc.