Cup day strike fear for Qld tracks, including Corbould Park
RACING: Queensland is set to have a blackout of TAB meetings on Melbourne Cup day - including for the Sunshine Coast - after an alliance of thoroughbred bodies announced the move to industrial action as "unavoidable”.
Cameron Partington, speaking on behalf of the alliance representing trainers, jockeys, owners and breeders, said the move comes after negotiations with government reached a standstill.
The move is set to impact Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup day meetings.
"With no sign of a positive resolution, all participants in Queensland will stand down on Saturday, October 27 (Cox Plate day) for meetings scheduled at Doomben, Gold Coast, Toowoomba and Townsville,” Partington said.
The move is planned for the industrial action to continue on Melbourne Cup day, Tuesday, November 6, comprising TAB meetings across the state, including at Corbould Park on the Sunshine Coast.
Sunshine Coast Turf Club CEO John Miller was concerned by the news but was still hopeful of a resolution.
"Obviously, from a club point of view it is definitely something we don't want to see happen because it's one of the biggest days on our calendar so we're just hoping negotiations will continue and it can all be resolved well before then.”
He acknowledged the irritation of the parties involved.
"The prizemoney levels and the funding in Queensland is just so far behind the other states so I appreciate the frustration of participants in Queensland, so I see both sides of it. But Melbourne Cup is one day we don't really want to see it have an impact on.
"We're not involved in negotiations. That's (for) Racing Queensland, so we'll await further advice and I'd say in the next 24 to 48 hours, we'll hear something.”
The alliance has committed to allow the non-TAB meetings on both of those days to proceed.
"This action has the full support of the four industry bodies comprising trainers, jockeys, breeders and owners and comes after a deadline on Thursday for the Government failed to deliver the requested commitment to return 100 per cent of the racing component of the Point of Consumption tax to racing,” Partington said.
"Despite claims that 100 per cent of this new tax will be returned to racing, the clear fact is none of this will be returned to thoroughbred racing this year.
"Prizemoney is our wages. Ten years ago our people were receiving 75 per cent of what NSW racing delivered in prizemoney and now Queensland sits at 45 per cent and as all the other states embrace this new betting tax this gap will only widen further.
"The significant financial investment from this new 'betting tax' given by the other states into their racing industries, is in stark contrast to what is shown in Queensland and while this industrial action is certainly not the industry participants preferred response, the Government's lack of understanding of the importance of the current situation in Queensland, leaves us with no alternative.”
After meeting with Treasurer Jackie Trad and Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe last Tuesday, the thoroughbred alliance set a deadline of Thursday for the government to table a new offer.
Early on Thursday, Hinchliffe's chief of staff Louise Foley told the alliance there would be "an answer by day's end” but nothing official lobbed.
Instead, Hinchliffe spoke to alliance members late on Thursday night.
The Government has said it will continue to work on the industry's proposal.
For the moment, there has been no change to the package outlined by Jackie Trad earlier this month.
The alliance representing trainers, owners, breeders and jockeys believes the government has had ample time to respond, both over the past fortnight and previous six months.
Hinchliffe told parliament on Thursday he expected the consultation process with industry to continue.
"This is important we continue to consult about how this tax - which is all about getting something out of corporate bookmakers who have contributed nothing - how we get that out of them and make sure we contribute back to this industry and back to the state of Queensland,” he said.
Hinchliffe said the Government had been "a great supporter of racing in Queensland” and was "investing heavily in the industry”, noting the $70 million commitment for Country Racing at last year's state election.
"Contrary to widespread reporting, equivalent of 100 per cent of (the Point of Consumption tax) will be returned to the industry this year,” he said.
Hinchliffe asserted the Queensland government support of racing is "roughly equivalent to New South Wales and Victoria”.
Top trainer Rob Heathcote said the Minister's opinion was not shared by his constituents.
"They delude themselves into thinking they are doing the right thing by the industry,” Heathcote said.
The industry has argued the estimated $35 million in nett revenue from POC is needed for prizemoney and not for infrastructure or the "squaring off” of a debt.