Racing Reform Update #5 from Chair, Dean McKenzie

20 December 2019

 

The Racing Industry Bill was introduced into Parliament earlier this month and submissions are now being called for with the closing date being Tuesday, 11 February. Information on the Bill and how to make a submission can be found on the Parliament website here.

This Bill, the second of two pieces of legislation is a significant milestone for racing which will help transition the racing industry into a financially sustainable future.  It’s also a very comprehensive Bill, so much so that it proposes the repeal of the current Racing Act 2003 and the creation of a new Racing Act.   

The Bill proposes some fundamental changes for the industry, with three key policy areas in the Bill, i.e., Governance of the Racing Industry, Betting and Property of Racing Clubs.

It establishes the TAB NZ as the sole betting provider for racing and sports in New Zealand, with a focus on maximising profits for the benefit of the New Zealand racing industry whilst having a strong regard for gambling harm minimisation. The Bill introduces a new mechanism that will allow the TAB to offer a broader range of betting products to increase revenue for the industry and requires the TAB NZ to apply to an independent body when changing or creating betting rules, requiring harm minimisation to be prioritised in any application.

It also proposes bringing the Racing Integrity Unit (RIU) and Judicial Control Authority (JCA) under one combined Board structure (the Racing Integrity Board) to ensure a more effective delivery of integrity services. The governance arrangements are based on recommendations from a report by Mr Malcom Burgess MZNM which emphasised the need for an independent integrity body.

Giving the three codes greater responsibility for the administration of racing and governance of their industries is also captured. 

The Bill proposes TAB NZ has exclusive rights within New Zealand and Australia to all intellectual property associated with all racing betting information, racing betting system (or systems), and any audio or visual content derived from a New Zealand race. This is consistent with the overall objective of maximising profit for the benefit of the domestic industry. It also requires TAB NZ to establish a committee to manage the racing dates calendar and allocate betting licences. 

Another critical area of reform identified in the Messara Review related to the consolidation of venues. The Bill introduces a suite of changes to resolve historic property issues and fairly address the current venue footprint and future industry requirements. 

The intent behind the venue provisions in the Bill is that industry assets should continue to provide long term benefit for racing. Ultimately the industry will decide if a venue is surplus for racing, and this will be done under a yet to be finalised, transparent, evaluation process. This will provide protection to clubs to ensure venue reviews are conducted in a transparent process based on the principles of natural justice. Only if the Code and the Club can’t reach agreement do the fall-back provisions of the Bill come into play. These provisions will enable the industry to address an issue that has proved impossible to resolve for generations.

Fundamentally, the process lays down a framework to ensure everyone will have the right to be treated fairly, and have their voice genuinely heard and considered. While the codes have been given broader powers in the Bill, there’s important checks and balances proposed to ensure the interests of clubs are adequately considered. This includes two new requirements that codes must follow when carrying out their functions. Codes will be required to comply with the rules of natural justice (this has a specific legal meaning covering the rule against bias and the right to a fair hearing) and exhibit a sense of social responsibility by having regard to the interests of the community in which they operate. The other venue proposals in the Bill are intended to be used as a last resort should the industry not be able to agree. 

Next Steps 

The Board strongly believe that we won’t have another opportunity beyond this Bill to get the reform the industry desperately needs. However, your views are important, and we will be listening. 

We encourage you all to take the time to consider the Bill carefully and make a submission to the Select Committee. We will be getting around the industry next month to hear your thoughts on the Bill, while also taking the opportunity to update you on the performance of the TAB.

The Board will be at a number of race meetings and events next month and we’ll also hold a number of public forums and conference calls which we’d welcome your attendance at. These include:  

  • 21 January @5pm - Awapuni Racing Centre, Palmerston North
  • 22 January @6pm - Ascot Park Racecourse, Invercargill
  • 23 January @10.30am - Cambridge Jockey Club
  • 23 January @4.30pm - Pukekohe Park
  • 24 January @ 12pm - Addington Raceway & Events Centre, Christchurch
  • 31 January - Regional Conference Calls (tbc)

We’ll provide further details of these events on rita.org.nz. In the interim, if you have any feedback on the proposed reforms, please send me your comments or questions to [email protected]

Sincerely

Dean McKenzie

Chair 

Racing Industry Transition Agency