HRNZ applauds Peters’ announcement

By Garrick Knight

Harness Racing New Zealand has welcomed the announcement made on Wednesday by Racing Minister, Winston Peters, that he says will revitalise the domestic racing industry.

According to Peters, the Government will introduce two new pieces of legislation before the year is out designed to overhaul an industry in a “serious state of decline”.

“The Coalition Government supports the overall intent of the Messara Report and is committed to reforms,” said Peters in a statement.

“We know we have the grass, the race animals, and the people to help the industry achieve its potential.  

“As a result, Cabinet has agreed to a stepped approach with the introduction of two Bills to amend the Racing Act 2003.”

The first, which is expected to be enacted by the start of July, will put into immediate effect a transitional governance arrangement ostensibly ending the New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB) in its current iteration.

The Bill proposes the NZRB be reconstituted as the Racing Industry Transitional Authority (RITA) to drive the transition of the industry.

“It is essential to have this transitional governance in place,” said Peters. 

“RITA will have a legislative mandate that encompasses change management as well as the current business-as-usual functions and powers of the NZRB.

“As a result of RITA’s work, the government anticipates a second racing amendment Bill to proceed later in 2019. 

“It will implement the remaining reforms including post-transition governance,” he said.

As well the change in governance, an expected pay off to the bill amendments will be the enforcement of tariffs on overseas bookmakers who take bets from New Zealanders.

Harness Racing New Zealand’s General Manager, Peter Jensen, says Peters commitment to implementing the recommendations of the controversial industry review written by Australian John Messara last year was to be applauded.

“We welcome the announcements from the Minister of Racing today and congratulate him on leading the systemic change that the industry requires through the Messara review and the subsequent implementation of its core recommendations.

“We are delighted that legislation is on the way to enable the industry to rightly generate revenue from offshore bookmakers reflecting the wagering they take on product we provide.

“HRNZ is committed to continuing to work with the Ministerial Advisory Committee and the associated working groups to deliver meaningful and lasting industry change.”

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