As a long-time participant and passionate member of the Western Australian racing industry I felt compelled to respond to the inaccuracies of Paul Murray’s opinion piece in the WestAustralian on Wednesday, May 28, advocating the sale of the TAB.
Mr Murray says there is no legitimate reason for the Western Australian government to be involved in the business of gambling and underpins his argument by pointing to the sale of the Victorian TAB in 1994.
He fails to recognise that similar privatisations of TAB assets in South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania have been abject failures that have had a detrimental impact on the racing industry of those respective states.
The NSW TAB was privatised in 1998; Racing NSW is currently in a funding deadlock with its state government. Two weeks ago, Racing Victoria Limited (RVL) raised race field fees to all wagering operators in an effort to protect jobs and sustain the Victorian racing industryinto the future. One can surely take heed.
Members of the racing industry that were ‘emboldened’ to speak out against the Government’s plan to sell the TAB were apprehensive participants who have genuine and legitimate concerns about their livelihoods and the future wellbeing of the industry they work within.
It is rare for various sectional interests of racing to unite but attendance of representatives of Trainers, Jockeys, Owners and Breeders exemplifies a growing anxiety about the lack of clarity and consultation from government.
The Australian wagering landscape has undergone significant changes over the past decade and the Western Australian TAB as a trusted and reputable brand within the community is best placed to continue to provide strong and regulatory safeguards against rapacious corporate operators.
Racing is intrinsically part of the Australian sporting landscape and it is encouraging that the National Party recognises the social, economic and cultural impact it plays in regional and rural communities in Western Australia.
There are thousands of people in the state that are employed in racing across various vocations including, riders, strappers, drivers, handlers, farriers, vets, owners, breeders, administrators as well as associated industries such as retail, fashion and transport. With 55 racing clubs throughout Western Australia, regional tracks and their respective race meetings underpin an important social fabric in many communities.
The WA TAB, operating within the Racing and Wagering (RWWA) structure, has been an accountable, prudent and successfully run business and industry funder. It is imperative that any decision to dismantle the current structure proceeds with informed debate and genuine industry consultation. After all, it is an important decision that must result in a sustainable future for the WA racing industry and its 33,000 plus participants.
President, WA Racing Trainers Association (WARTA)