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2019 Government Businesses Scrutiny Committee - Tasracing
Parliamentary Activity - Tuesday, 3 December 2019
CHAIR (Mrs Petrusma) - The time now being 2 o'clock, the scrutiny of Tasracing will begin. The time schedule for the scrutiny of Tasracing is two hours. I welcome the Minister, Chair and CEO to the committee.
I remind members about the practice of seeking additional information for GBEs. The question must be agreed to be taken by the minister or the Chair of the board, and the question must be handed in writing to the committee's secretary.
Minister or Chair, do you want to give a brief opening statement?
Ms ARCHER - Thank you, Chair and members, for your time today at GBE scrutiny committees.
The Hodgman Government is a strong supporter of the racing industry in Tasmania and we recognise the importance it has on our economy and in our local communities, particularly our regional communities, across the state.
Between Tasracing and the Independent Office of Racing Integrity, funding has increased by more than $2 million since we came to government and is allowing the industry to grow while maintaining enhanced integrity services, an increased focus on animal welfare and making major improvements to racing infrastructure. The Tasmanian racing industry injects approximately $103 million a year into our economy and supports many jobs in rural and regional areas with more than 5500 Tasmanians either employed or participating in the industry in some way. We are committed to ensuring that this momentum in the industry continues.
Tasracing appointed Mr Paul Eriksson, to my left, to the role of Chief Executive Officer in March this year. Mr Eriksson has extensive leadership and financial management experience in a number of roles, including as general manager of finance and IT for Racing New South Wales and as the inaugural chief financial officer of the GWS Giants. Most recently, Mr Eriksson has worked as the group CFO for the Cronulla Sharks and served as acting CEO for four months in late 2017.
I also put on record my sincere thanks to Dr Alicia Fuller, who acted in the role of chief executive officer and did a wonderful job following the departure of Mr Lynch. Dr Fuller's contribution during her period as leader of Tasracing was significant, with a veterinary background as well. Dr Fuller returned to her role of operations manager of racing following Mr Eriksson's appointment. In May, Dr Fuller moved to New South Wales for personal reasons.
On the racing front, there have been many successes across all three racing codes. One particularly pleasing aspect was the success of locally trained horses during the 2019 summer racing carnival. Of the carnival's feature race representing prize money of $2.3 million, 85 per cent was won by Tasmanian horses -
Ms O'CONNOR - How many of them do you think ended up at abattoirs interstate?
CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, allow the minister to finish please.
Ms ARCHER - This is my opening statement, Ms O'Connor, not a good start.
Ms O'CONNOR - I don't need lecturing from you.
Ms ARCHER - It's important to note that the Tasmanian Government takes the matter of animal welfare extremely seriously. In the past year considerable efforts have been made to further lift standards in the sector and I will have an opportunity to explain that later. It is important to note these efforts followed the establishment of the Office of Racing Integrity in 2015, an initiative of our Government -
Ms O'CONNOR - Why aren't they at the table then?
CHAIR - Ms O'Connor. Thank you. I don't want to have to start giving warnings.
Ms ARCHER - when Racing Services Tasmania was transferred to DPIPWE to better leverage off the animal welfare and veterinary skills in that department. Following that rebranding was to emphasise its integrity role and differentiate it from the commercial body, being Tasracing. There is a distinct difference between the two.
In closing, ORI operates independently from Tasracing; however, there is a strong level of cooperation to ensure integrity, and welfare issues are addressed appropriately and are investigated by the Office of Racing Integrity.
Mr O'BYRNE - Thank you, minister, and welcome to the Tasracing people. I will start with the point of consumption tax, which has been a major issue the industry has been debating about where that fair share will go. Essentially it goes to revenue and to the financial viability of the entire racing industry. It was interesting, minister, that you chose not to speak on that debate, and I am asking why you chose not to speak on what is probably the key issue that has been confronting the industry across all three codes for quite some time.
Ms ARCHER - The matter for debate is a matter of reflection, but the Treasurer is quite capable of taking that legislation through on a tax himself; it was his bill. The point of consumption tax is a matter for Treasury and his portfolio. I have had discussions with him on it and I continue to have discussions with Tasracing, racing clubs and all interested parties, and do so in an environment not on the Floor of parliament, and I am very happy to do that. I do not see the point of the question other than I did not make a contribution that day. Other members of our Government ably did so, and it was a matter for the Treasurer.
Mr O'BYRNE - The industry is of the view that the Government is not listening to them and particularly you as minister have a responsibility to ensure that the Government's position on issues of revenue, in particular, are clear. Yes, it is a Treasury bill, but ultimately the industry would expect you as minister to go into bat for them to ensure that there is financial viability, not only for Tasracing but also for the industry broadly speaking. It was interesting that you chose not to speak on the bill and represent your views as minister for the industry.
Ms ARCHER - That is not a question, but can I say, it set the rate. We have engaged with the industry and clubs on the rate.
Mr O'BYRNE - So the rate has been set?
Ms ARCHER - As we've said, it is 15per cent. That is consistent with most other states and jurisdictions. We have had those discussions, so I don't accept the premise of the start of the question about the industry. I certainly wouldn't take your word for it, Mr O'Byrne, that that's correct.
Mr O'BYRNE - You chose not to speak on an important bill for the industry, that's all. I'm just making that observation.
Ms ARCHER - You are talking about a debate on the Floor of parliament, I am talking about the ongoing engagement that I and the Treasurer have had with industry on this matter, and it has been extensive.
Mr O'BYRNE - Minister, did you attend the ministerial council meeting in Perth recently of racing ministers from across jurisdictions?
Ms ARCHER - No, I didn't. It was being held at Rottnest Island in Western Australia. Members would be aware that that is quite a significant distance to travel and takes you out of the office the day before as well as the day and the day after to travel back.
Mr O'BYRNE - We have provided pairs to ministers who go to meetings in Perth, including the Premier.
Ms ARCHER - I wasn't there; I provided my position in writing. I am very happy with the decision of the national register and it is in line with my submission in that regard. Consistent with our position, Mr John King from the Office of Racing Integrity attended that and put forward our position on a number of matters. It is not unusual for a minister not to be able to attend a ministerial council meeting, not least of all to get to Rottnest Island in Western Australia.
Mr O'BYRNE - Minister, to be clear, there was a bill regarding an important revenue issue for the industry. A number of key elements in the industry are very keen on this; it is about the industry's future sustainability. You chose not to speak on the bill and then you chose not to go to the ministerial council meeting -
Ms ARCHER - I didn't choose not to go; there were other commitments in my diary that -
Mr O'BYRNE - So it's not important for you?
Ms ARCHER - Of course it's important. That is why I made written submissions. It is not unusual - and you would know this, you have been a minister - for departmental people to represent the interests of the state, and quite adequately, I might say.
Mr O'BYRNE - I went to every ministerial council meeting.
Ms ARCHER - On the particular matter of national interest to do with horse welfare, of course I made my position very clear on that and made a submission in writing and circulated that amongst all my state and territory counterparts.
Mr O'BYRNE - You understand the message that it sends, minister - those two acts.
Ms ARCHER - You're making a big deal out of that.
Mr O'BYRNE - No, I'm just pointing out the fact.
Ms ARCHER - I certainly haven't been advised that the industry is unhappy with me as minister - in fact, quite the contrary. You're just making this up for the purpose of political expediency.
Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, do you know what happens to former racehorses and standardbreds in Tasmania post-retirement?
Ms ARCHER - Sorry, what was the first part of that? I didn't hear it.
Ms O'CONNOR - What happens to former racehorses and standardbreds following retirement in Tasmania? Do you have any idea at all?
Ms ARCHER - That was a very loaded question at the end, wasn't it? I'm very happy to talk about the welfare of racing animals across the codes. Equally important, of course, is the need to responsibly facilitate the exit of animals from the racing industry and promote their transition from racing careers post their retirement.
It is important to note that Tasracing and the racing industry currently expends 2.12 per cent of stakes directly on equine welfare. It is of the height of importance to those in the industry and Tasracing. They care about their animals -
Ms O'CONNOR - Can I bring you back to the question? What happens to ex-racehorses and pacers in Tasmania following retirement?
Ms ARCHER - As you know, there is currently a register to ensure that we know, from birth to retirement, where horses are. The national decision recently was to extend that post retirement. The Office of Racing Integrity does not currently conduct post-retirement equine welfare checks. However, on receipt of any relevant information they do and would initiate welfare checks in partnership with the RSPCA. I can go to the CEO to fill in further in relation to -
Ms O'CONNOR - Specific to my question.
Ms ARCHER - It is specific to the question. You can do that through me in a respectful manner.
Ms O'CONNOR - I am being respectful to you; don't get so precious at the table.
Ms ARCHER - I will hand over to Mr Eriksson. He might have something further to add to that in relation to the Office of Racing Integrity's role in particular, and it is important to note their separate role in this as well.
Mr ERIKSSON - Ms O'Connor, in relation to your question and what happens to racehorses when they finish their racing career -
Ms O'CONNOR - And pacers.
Mr ERIKSSON - I use the term 'racehorses' colloquially, whether they be thoroughbred or standardbred, if that's acceptable. There is a program when they retire required by racing rules, whether it be the Harness Rules or the Australian Racing Rules, that they notify those organisations that the horse has retired, whether due to illness, due to injury, however it has retired.
Ms O'CONNOR - Being sent to the abattoir.
Mr ERIKSSON - Ms O'Connor, that is not correct.
Ms O'CONNOR - Are you saying that no ex-racehorses are sent to the abattoir?
Mr ERIKSSON - I am not saying that, no.
Ms O'CONNOR - Was there any investigation by Tasracing after the 7.30 Report went to air?
CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, please allow the response.
Ms O'CONNOR - I just heard a statement that I don't think is true.
CHAIR - You can ask a further question on that, so please allow -
Ms ARCHER - I will call a point of order there. Ms O'Connor should be respectful. Mr Eriksson is not coming here to mislead the committee. He knows that the importance of this committee is akin to giving evidence and, quite frankly, I won't stand for that type of accusation today. I will keep calling points of order -
Ms O'CONNOR - Good on you - to buy time and not have to answer questions.
Ms ARCHER - No, until you behave in a parliamentary manner.
Ms O'CONNOR - I'm behaving in a parliamentary manner and I don't need your judgment.
Ms ARCHER - Attack me all you want but not the other members around the table.
Mr ERIKSSON - Ms O'Connor, back to the answer to the question. They are required to be notified to the appropriate authorities once they leave racing. This is why we fully support a national traceability register. They become subject to the Animal Welfare Act and neither ORI nor Tasracing nor any other racing authority has authority or any legal right to do anything about those horses. If our plans are with our Off the Track program in which, over the last 12 months alone, we had over 500 ex-racehorses - not 500 from the same year but over a number of years - we had over 500 racehorses that took part in those clinics. The idea behind those clinics is to appropriately match a new owner with a retired racehorse so that we don't get what is happening in some of the other states, we get a return.
Ms O'CONNOR - Can I pull you up there? This will be my last question on this subject for now, Madam Chair. On the Off the Track program, it says in the annual report, in your report, Mr Eriksson, that you have signed off on, that there are more than 500 ex-racing horses participating in the program for the reporting period. We have here the text of an email from the coordinator of the Off the Track program from April this year, in that past 12-month period that you were talking about. The person writes to a person who owns a horse and is making an inquiry -
We are still reviewing the way the program will actually take horses in for re training at the moment, so, unfortunately, we are not in a position to accept. Please keep an eye on the website for updates.
In April this year, an owner was being told that there was no program in place, that they weren't taking on horses, but you are saying this has been 12 months now and there are 500 horses registered in Off the Track?
Mr ERIKSSON - There are and I would like to take that on notice, if I may, because I'm not aware of that email.
Ms O'CONNOR - Are you saying that in April this year, Off the Track was accepting horses for registration and you are prepared to say on oath that there are 500 horses registered and listed in the Off the Track Program? Through you, minister?
Ms ARCHER - I'm going to call for a point of order. The premise of that question was based on whether Mr Eriksson would do something on oath. Ms O'Connor cannot do that. I've already explained this. Mr Eriksson knows what his obligations are in relation to appearing before a parliamentary committee. First and foremost -
Ms O'CONNOR - This is really important, minister. It's an annual report statement and we need to find out what the veracity of it is.
Ms ARCHER - It is important, but you are claiming you have an email that we haven't seen.
Ms O'CONNOR - I am reading to you the text of an email.
Ms ARCHER - Based on the track record of members of the Labor-Greens opposition -
Ms O'CONNOR - We are not an opposition and you are being pathetic now.
Ms ARCHER - in this parliament, we don't know the veracity of that claim.
CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, this is your first warning. I do not want you talking over the minister, please. Allow her to finish her response and you can ask a question.
Ms O'CONNOR - The minister is talking over me. I go back to the original question, thank you, Chair.
Ms ARCHER - Ms O'Connor might like to produce that email so that we can check -
CHAIR - Mr Eriksson was answering the question, so -
Ms O'CONNOR - Okay. I will certainly not produce that email. I am prepared to say at this table that is the text of the email and that an owner at the time was told that Off The Track was being reviewed in April this year and they weren't taking horses for registrations. Minister, are you prepared to state unequivocally that there are 500 horses on the Off the Track register, as is put in the annual report from this year?
Ms ARCHER - Well, I didn't produce the annual report.
Ms O'CONNOR - You tabled it.
Ms ARCHER - Tasracing did and I'm sure -
Mr O'BYRNE - It's your ministerial responsibility.
Ms ARCHER - Of course it is, and I have to take the contents of the annual report as being truthful. From my advice, the Off the Track program is there to facilitate the transition of horses and there are coaching clinics and that is occurring.
Ms O'CONNOR - Have you personally been out to have a look?
Ms ARCHER - I think Mr Eriksson wanted to address something.
Mr ERIKSSON - Thank you, minister. In response to your additional question, the answer is, according to the records that have been kept, some before my time, that information is correct. I am relying -
Ms O'CONNOR - Are you prepared to table those records?
CHAIR - We are going to stop there, unless Mr Eriksson has something more to say. The call does need to pass on, so I ask you to finalise your answer, Mr Eriksson.
Ms O'CONNOR - It's in a report that's been tabled in parliament.
Mr ERIKSSON - I have no knowledge of that email. To my knowledge, there was no restraint on any horses being accepted unless there were too many horses in the clinic for that particular clinic. I would need to investigate it. I'd be prepared to take it on notice and identify that email and what occurred.
Mrs RYLAH - Minister, the greyhound inquiry during the previous term was significant. One of the recommendations given was to improve the greyhound adoption service. Can you update the committee on Tasracing's securing of our own dedicated facility for the Greyhound Adoption Program?
Ms O'CONNOR - And maybe you could explain why their website's gone down.
CHAIR - Order. Ms O'Connor, that is out of order. This is Mrs Rylah's question. Thank you, minister.
Mr O'BYRNE - Didn't you announce this in parliament?
Ms O'CONNOR - The website's gone down.
Ms ARCHER - After the members have had their little bit to say, this is good news. I have mentioned in contributions in parliament, as I regularly do on bills under my oversight, that I was pleased to announce a few weeks ago the securing of Tasmania's first ever dedicated greyhound rehoming facility at Mangalore. Following an expression of interest process, Tasracing has purchased Mangalore Kennels and very minor works will begin shortly so that the facility can accept retired greyhounds, and will do so and be operational in January.
The facility will be used to run Tasmania's Greyhound Adoption Program, which we abbreviate to GAP. It operates based on protocols that have been adopted nationally to best care for retired greyhounds and ensure their new owners understand their obligations. These protocols include behavioural assessments to ensure that a retired greyhound is suitable to be placed in a family home and be part of the community. The dedicated facility will be owned and operated by Tasracing and will allow public access, enabling GAP to better demonstrate to the community the suitability of greyhounds as pets. They do make wonderful pets.
It will also immediately allow Tasracing to increase capacity for GAP greyhounds from 23 to 54 and provide an emergency shelter option. It is a site that can be expanded on as well, I am advised. Tasracing's goal is to reach a rehoming target of more than 150 greyhounds annually.
As part of the final negotiation process the kennel owners of Mangalore Kennels were offered the opportunity to remain on site as GAP facility caretakers and the offer was gladly accepted by them, I am pleased to report. They are used to caring for dogs. The facility is expected to be fully operational next month. I acknowledge the passion and commitment of other greyhound rehoming organisations and the many GAP families, who do a tremendous job caring for their adopted dogs.
Mrs RYLAH - Minister, can I clarify that you are more than doubling the capacity from 23
Ms ARCHER - Yes, from 23 to 54, immediately.
Ms OGILVIE - Thank you, minister, and members for coming today. My question relates to the Tasmanian Racing Club and their request for some assistance with the long-term strategic plan concept that they would very much like to see put into place. They say the three codes that form the club have faced significant challenges in recent years and that there are significant concerns for the long-term viability of the racing industry in this state. It's a very serious request and questions. Will you support the financial support that they've requested to get that strategic planning exercise underway?
Ms ARCHER - I only received that letter by email about an hour before coming here. It was addressed to me and the Treasurer, a letter from Mr Andrew Scanlon on behalf of the Tasmanian Racing Club and Racing Clubs Tasmania, as he is Chair of both. They have sought a figure for an industry-led long-term strategic plan for the Tasmanian racing industry, as you say. I am very happy to discuss this proposal further with Mr Scanlon and his respective boards to obtain further details.
Ms OGILVIE - They will be pleased to hear that, thank you, minister.
Mr O'BYRNE - The point of consumption tax, as you know, has been seen by the industry as a real opportunity to underpin the financial viability of many elements of the three codes. A number of trainers have indicated, both privately and publicly, that things are very tight and we're not keeping up with stakes from mainland fields. We saw in the implementation of a tax and a few other issues in the industry in Queensland, a trainer's strike - and I'm not saying that will occur down here - but a number of the trainers are very concerned about the sustainability. That leads me to the revenue split with the point of consumption tax.
I understand the industry has asked for a fair share of that point of consumption tax. It is a tax raised from the industry. They are hopeful that the revenue raised will go to stakes and prize money. What is your position on the split of the revenue raised from the point of consumption tax?
Ms ARCHER - We're having ongoing discussions in that regard. One of Tasracing's roles is to represent the industry. So we're also discussing it with Tasracing, which is yet to put a formal proposal forward. As I said, the point of consumption tax will be introduced in Tasmania in January at a rate of 15 per cent and that is largely consistent with revenue or the rate in other states.
Mr O'BYRNE - Apart from New South Wales and Victoria.
Ms ARCHER - Apart from New South Wales and Victoria, which are 10 per cent and 8 per cent respectively. Those discussions are occurring. We continue to engage. I know that both I and the Treasurer are involved in that continuing dialogue.
Mr O'BYRNE - Is it true that you put informally to the industry a 50-50 split of that revenue?
Ms ARCHER - I haven't put that specifically to them myself. There have been discussions -
Mr O'BYRNE - Have other people done it?
Ms ARCHER - as I said - well, the Treasurer has had discussions in his role of Treasurer dealing with the taxes. Numerous things have been discussed. No decision has been made yet in relation to that split, as I've just said. Those discussions continue and I am sure a formal position will also be put by Tasracing.
Mr O'BYRNE - As a part of the arrangement with the new licence fee and point of consumption tax arrangement, you've made a significant reduction in the licence fee paid by Tabcorp, UBET in Tasmania, from a $7 million licence fee for exclusivity on island to $1.5 million. We understand from Treasury briefings that the revenue that would be raised from Tabcorp UBET, would be around $5 million. Given the industry is struggling, prize money is not keeping up with mainland race fields, why would you then give Tabcorp UBET, essentially $0.5 million deduction, which costs revenue to the industry, particularly when looking at the books there is a $2 million loss? You really can't be beggars and choosers around fair revenue. You can't give away revenue. Why was that arrangement reached with Tabcorp?
Ms ARCHER - I know that Tasracing has been involved in - I will throw to the CEO who has been involved.
Mr ERIKSSON - Tasracing has not been involved in those discussions with Tabcorp. That is an agreement between Tabcorp and the Treasury, and we haven't been party to those briefings. In terms of the numbers, and these are very rough numbers that we have that Tasracing has attempted to do, we believe that there will be something in the realm of $12 million to $13 million raised by the point of consumption tax. Then there were negotiations between Treasury and Tabcorp. We're not aware of the contents of the original deed and we must defer to Treasury on that.
Mr O'BYRNE - The question is then to the Government position. Why did you then give Tabcorp a discount on their licence fee? We understand the revenue on a point of consumption tax will be anywhere between 10 and 13, depending on revenue. A part of that is paid by other corporate bookmakers, part of that is paid by Tabcorp -
Ms ARCHER - Mr O'Byrne, this is a GBE for Tasracing, and Mr Eriksson has just clarified that those are discussions with Treasury. I am not in charge of Treasury.
Mr O'BYRNE - It goes to the funding, minister.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Chair. Can I get some clarity here? You have asked us not to interrupt the minister, but the minister is perfectly allowed to interrupt us constantly, is that right?
CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, let the minister continue. Thank you, minister, continue.
Mr O'BYRNE - Given the industry is in desperate need of revenue to ensure its ongoing viability, why did you effectively give away that $0.5 million to a corporate bookmaker?
Ms ARCHER - You are asking a question at a GBE hearing for Tasracing and Mr Eriksson has just clarified that it wasn't a matter for Tasracing. I have just said that it was confirmed also that it was discussions between Tabcorp and Treasury. You know I am not the Treasurer.
Mr O'BYRNE - You are absolving your role in this as the racing minister.
Ms ARCHER - I am not absolving my role in this. You are putting a question that is a question appropriate for the Treasurer and is best asked in another forum, not on a GBE hearing to do with Tasracing when they haven't been involved in that.
Mr O'BYRNE - With respect, you are the Racing minister and it is your responsibility to ensure the future viability. You will not commit on a fair share of the point of consumption tax for the racing industry -
Ms ARCHER - I will commit on a fair share, and you won't put words into -
Mr O'BYRNE - The tax is implemented on 1 January; the industry is in desperate need of some surety and confidence. Minister, it is unacceptable that -
Ms ARCHER - Ms Butler keeps mumbling. If she has a question I am very happy to answer it.
Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, I want to come back to the annual report and the report by the chief executive officer. Did Mr Eriksson begin at Tasracing in this role in April this year?
Ms ARCHER - I think I said March of this year in my opening statement, Ms O'Connor. Just to clarify it was March, yes.
Ms O'CONNOR - My question is, given that Mr Eriksson has signed on to a statement in the annual report which has been tabled in parliament, this statement:
The Tasracing Off the Track Program has continued to gain momentum with more than 500 ex-racing horses participating in the program for the reporting period -
Through you, minister, perhaps Mr Eriksson could explain to the table what inquiries he made, or whether or not he went out to see any of the Off the Track workshops or program in operation, given that we have had allegations put to us that it was not operational in April this year, and, in likelihood, in July this year?
Mr ERIKSSON - Ms O'Connor, I attended two shows plus three clinics since I arrived at Tasracing. In terms of the comment, 'continued to grow momentum', the Off the Track Program was then in its second year. It had actually started before that, and it grew momentum in that year. I was relying on the information that had been recorded from attendance at clinics and the registrations at those clinics, which, from my review, and from my management's review, appeared accurate. That is what that remark is based on.
Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Mr Eriksson. It is not a remark. It is a statement in an annual report that was tabled in the parliament.
Can I confirm that you have seen a register with 500 horses registered as participants in the Off the Track Program?
Mr ERIKSSON - Ms O'Connor, I have seen a register for the clinics, but I have not personally counted every single horse that was on there. I relayed that to my staff and that is not deferring responsibility. The numbers appeared reasonable based on the information that I had available to me that I reviewed.
Ms O'CONNOR - What was the source document for your statement in an annual report tabled in parliament that more than 500 ex-racing horses are participating in the program for the reporting period?
Mr ERIKSSON - The registration information that was gathered for the clinics.
Ms O'CONNOR - This is an important point of clarity here for the table: is there a single register that staff showed you? You have made a singular statement here that there are 500 horses registered and participating. What does that mean?
Mr ERIKSSON - That there were 500 ex-racehorses participating in those clinics based on a count by my staff of the registration data for those clinics.
Ms O'CONNOR - Is there a register?
CHAIR - Thank you; I will come back to you, Ms O'Connor. You have just had four questions in a row.
Ms O'CONNOR - Chair, it is one question.
CHAIR - No, it was four questions.
Ms O'CONNOR - We are trying to find out whether this is a true statement.
CHAIR - It was four questions. Mr Tucker has the call.
Ms O'CONNOR - It's really disturbing when you need cover to be run on issues of animal welfare at this table.
Mr TUCKER - As the minister is aware, racing tracks need upgrading for a number of different reasons. Can the minister please provide the status of the major redevelopment of the thoroughbred track at Elwick?
Ms ARCHER - Thank you, Mr Tucker. I appreciate your ongoing interest, as I do with all members on racing around the table. This is a well-noted time for everybody to be able to ask questions, so I thank all members for their questions, regardless of where they come from.
The surface of the track at Elwick needed redevelopment, so it is a significant investment by Tasracing of $12.5 million to resurface the thoroughbred track. It is on time and on budget, with the laying of the all-important new turf completed just days ago. The two grass tracks have been replaced by a 28-metre wide StrathAyr grass track that will be ready in time to host the Tasmanian Derby on 31 January and the Hobart Cup on 9 February. I know all industry participants are very much looking forward to that.
I also note there has been ongoing participation and consultation with all the interested parties in relation to the progress of the track. They have had regular inspections themselves so that they can be satisfied of the status of the redevelopment, that it is on time, that it is suitable, all of those things that can provide feedback through Tasracing, so I thank them for that close consultation. I think that truly works well.
As some members will know, StrathAyr is a wholly Tasmanian-owned business based at Richmond. It is the head contractor and has employed additional staff for this major project whilst also engaging other Tasmanian contractors to work on the project as well. It has required significant earth works, civil works, service compaction and the latest in laser grading that forms part of the process that will make the track one of the best in Australia. Up to 1900 tonnes of sand from the north-east of the state was delivered each week to the site in the early stages, so we are using other products from around the state, along with other quality materials to make up the foundation of the track. StrathAyr has rolled out onto the track some 64 000 square metres of turf that has been specifically grown at its Richmond property for the project.
The old Elwick track had suffered from very poor drainage during the winter months but the redevelopment has included key drainage and irrigation works that are nearing completion and will eradicate those issues. The racing industry and its thousands of participants, I know from ongoing dialogue I have had with them, are very excited about the return to the famed track which, as I mentioned, will occur on 31 January.
Mr O'BYRNE - Back to the revenue on consumption tax, given that stakes money is the key driver of the racing industry, can you advise when the last increase in stakes money was introduced? When will the next increase take place?
Mr ERIKSSON - The code allocation has grown since the stakes reset on a compound annual growth of just over 6 per cent per year. In terms of the increases in stakes from 2016-17 which was the end of the stakes reset, we had a growth of 6.4 per cent, 10.5 per cent and, this year, a fraction over 1 per cent. That was delivered on the back of a 2 per cent increase for the current year. That was thoroughbreds. Harness had 5.7 per cent, 4.78 per cent and again just a fraction over 1 per cent. So there had been stakes increases every year since the stakes reset where we are now in real terms above the number that it was at that time when it was reset.
Mr O'BYRNE - And that date was? It was before my time.
Mr ERIKSSON - And mine. I believe it was in the 2015-16 year but I haven't got the exact date.
Ms ARCHER - It was when we had to amend the deed that was Labor's deed.
Mr ERIKSSON - There was a deed amendment but I am still working my way through that.
Ms ARCHER - It was 2015.
Mr O'BYRNE - Having regard to the amount Tasracing received by the way of government grant really can't be varied, would you agree that sustaining or increasing the level of revenue for racefield fees is really vital to the capacity to fund the current level of stakes money, let alone an increase in stakes money? Can you agree with that conceptually?
Ms ARCHER - You ask your question again about racefield fees when you've just been told the stakes.
Mr O'BYRNE - Yes, I know, but the ongoing increase. So you agree with the premise that racefield fees and the revenue is vital to the capacity and the future of the industry.
Ms ARCHER - Well, of course. There are a number of factors. There is no one factor that makes the ongoing viability of the industry. They all contribute to the viability of the industry. There is no one silver bullet to ensuring long-term sustainability but what we did in amending that funding deed in 2015 was take a number of different measures which I am very happy to run through, but it was for the sustainability of the industry. It removed the requirement to maintain stakes in real terms each year so as to allow the company to close the funding gap by resetting prize money and industry funding by $3 million, which was effective from 1 October 2015. Meeting the funding deed allowed Tasracing flexibility also to roll over any allocated prizemoney into future years. This means that prizemoney for races which are cancelled due to poor weather can be reallocated as appropriate rather than having to be spent before the end of the financial year. Again, that was something of significant benefit to the sustainability of the industry.
Amending the funding deed to broaden the definition of capital expenditure to improve the capacity of Tasracing to access capital via its existing Tabcorp debt facility was also critical. The continuation of borrowing support for principal interest in guarantee fees in relation to the non capital related borrowings of Tasracing for a period of up to two years was also a consequence of amending the funding deed.
As of the 2019 financial year, this debt support has now ceased. Amending the funding deed to include a clause that states the Government may, in its sole discretion, pay to Tasracing the sum of $250 000 in each financial year commencing on 1 July 2015 as supplementary capital funding is also part of it. In the event of any payment being made pursuant to this subclause, payment must be applied by Tasracing to capital expenditure and the payment must be classified as an equity contribution to the financial accounts of Tasracing.
Those changes were completed effective from 15 October 2015 with the sole aim of sustainability of the industry. So there is no one thing that is critical to ongoing sustainability but all of those things collectively.
Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, earlier the CEO talked about the manner in which the figure of more than 500 in the Off the Track program was determined and there was talk of counting a number of forms. Is there a single register for horses that are participants in Off the Track? Are you able to tell the committee today how many horses have been rehomed through Off the Track?
Ms ARCHER - Ms O'Connor, I have the same information from the annual report as Mr Eriksson. That is just another way of asking the same question that you asked Mr Eriksson.
Ms O'CONNOR - It certainly is not. I'm trying to determine is there one register, because I asked the question, and then I was told it was by counting forms that more than 500 was -
Ms ARCHER - I will need to go to Mr Eriksson on that because my advice is certainly that the Off the Track program is accepting horses, that there is a program. In relation to that specific question, Mr Eriksson.
Mr ERIKSSON - My prior answer, Ms O'Connor, is that not only are there the forms, but there are registration sheets for the clinics. That is what we counted. That is what we were looking at. There is no one single summary that we have created at this time. There are a number of documents that we used to identify this number.
Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Mr Eriksson. We've just established, minister, that a program that has been - according to Mr Eriksson - operational for almost two years now, Off the Track, has not established a single register and that the system is still in flux, if you like. It does add some veracity to the content of the email I read out to you earlier about the statement that Tasracing is still reviewing the way the program will actually take horses in for retraining. Don't you agree? There is no register.
Ms ARCHER - It's a program that hasn't been in existence for a long time.
Ms O'CONNOR - How long has it been in existence?
Ms ARCHER - The start of it?
Mr ERIKSSON - Was in the 2017-18 year.
Ms O'CONNOR - Nearly two years.
Ms ARCHER - It is relatively new. I am advised that they welcome any horse that has been bred for racing, regardless of whether it has raced. It has fairly broad criteria in that regard. The premise of your questions tries to give this connotation that there's something negative going on here. The Off the Track program is a positive thing for the rehoming of retired racehorses or indeed those who have been bred for racing but don't race. It is a positive thing not a negative thing, but I would expect that.
Ms O'CONNOR - We are trying to determine whether the statement made in an annual report is fact. That is what we are trying to determine. This is a transparency and accountability issue. Neither you nor Mr Eriksson have answered it. I have also asked you how many horses have been rehomed through the program.
Ms ARCHER - Mr Eriksson has answered your questions and told you how those figures were produced -
Ms O'CONNOR - How many have been rehomed?
Ms ARCHER - for the purpose of the annual report. You are doubting, quite frankly, the integrity and honesty of the CEO for your own political expediency, but you won't produce the words of an email, even de-identifying the person.
Ms O'CONNOR - No, it's not political expediency here.
CHAIR - The call now goes to Mrs Rylah.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Chair.
CHAIR - No, you've had four questions.
Ms O'CONNOR - I've had one question, really.
CHAIR - No, you have had four.
Ms ARCHER - You were wrong on Zoodoo as well.
Ms O'CONNOR - The question about how many horses have been rehomed.
CHAIR - You have had four different attempts at the same question, Ms O'Connor.
Ms O'CONNOR - How many horses have been rehomed? Why wouldn't the minister answer that?
CHAIR - Next time you can ask again, but it now goes to Mrs Rylah.
Ms O'CONNOR - This is disgraceful. We're the only people at the table asking about the welfare of these horses, keep getting shut down and keep not getting answers. It's disgraceful. You can't answer the question about how many have been rehomed. That is the issue here, because none have, through the program. Thank you, Chair.
Mrs RYLAH - Minister, infrastructure is a very important part of what our Government is doing across the state. Can you please advise the status of the Government's election commitment to provide infrastructure grants to local racing clubs?
Ms ARCHER - Thank you, Mrs Rylah, this also goes to the issue about our local racing clubs and the support that Tasracing provides them. Our Government made a commitment at the last election to create a grants program for local racing clubs to apply to fund racing infrastructure projects, which we know is a very important issue for our regional -
Ms O'CONNOR - No upgrades to the greyhound tracks to stop them injuring dogs so often, no.
Ms ARCHER - Ms O'Connor, if you have a question on that issue -
Ms O'CONNOR - Get nice and shrill at the table with me, won't you.
CHAIR - Order.
Ms ARCHER - If you have a question on that, I'm very happy to answer about the review that has taken place.
CHAIR - Order, minister, can you answer Mrs Rylah's question please.
Ms ARCHER - It's a bit rich being told that I am shrill too, by Ms O'Connor.
In September, the application process for round one of these local racing club infrastructure grants was opened. A focus for this first round of grants would be to improve safety at racetracks, while there will also be provision to fund upgrades of facilities at racecourses for the benefit of racing industry participants as well as racecourse patrons.
Tasmanian racing clubs, whether they are for greyhounds, harness or thoroughbreds, are a significant part of the Tasmanian racing industry and are important for the growth and development of the industry statewide. These clubs are supported by hardworking and very committed volunteers, as we all know as local members, who contribute significantly to the local communities in which they live, through these clubs.
Through these grants and support, our Government has created an environment that promotes the growth of Tasmania's racing industry. It is another factor to contribute to that ongoing sustainability of the racing industry that Mr O'Byrne asked about. Applications closed on 11 November this year, with 11 applications received. Assessment of the applications is currently underway.
Ms OGILVIE - I am interested in your 'buy local' policy, and I refer you to page 37 of the annual report where your financials are set out. I notice that 46 per cent of purchases were from Tasmanian businesses, which equates to $12.9 million. From my rough calculations, that looks like about $26 million of overall spend, only 46 per cent of which has been procured locally. I am wondering what, if anything, is preventing Tasracing from buying more locally and getting that figure up.
Ms ARCHER - I think Mr Heald, as CFO, could answer that.
Mr HEALD - Most of our spending goes to individuals in stakes money, which is not included in that actual spend. The rest of it goes to the likes of businesses in Tasmania, which are fine, but the stakes money is not included in the actual percentage. If we counted that, there would be a much higher figure.
Ms OGILVIE - Sorry, I'm still a bit confused. Of the $26 million pool, are you saying about 54 per cent is stakes money? I think I have misunderstood what you are saying.
Mr HEALD - Yes.
Ms OGILVIE - So it's stakes money causing that big delta?
Mr HEALD - To be honest, I will need to have a double check on that.
Ms OGILVIE - Okay, sorry. I put you on the spot. That's fine, take it on notice.
Mr HEALD - Yes, thank you.
Mr O'BYRNE - I was halfway through a series of questions, but I will ask a question. A number of people I have spoken to in the industry are very concerned about the issue of animal welfare. We saw in Victoria a response post the Four Corners report, a significant announcement -
Ms ARCHER - Are you talking about horse welfare specifically?
Mr O'BYRNE - Horse welfare, yes. We did see a major announcement from the Racing minister in Victoria and the thoroughbred clubs in Victoria about funding - and Queensland - a whole range of states have taken steps to ensure this is a major risk for the industry. There are a whole range of really good people, really good trainers and owners, that care deeply for the animals and they are very concerned about the optics. They are very concerned about how the industry is viewed and its ongoing viability and people's attraction to support the industry by either attending race meets or by supporting it through gambling. We did see consumer backlash recently. A number of other states have taken steps. Unfortunately, apart from an announcement to say that Tasracing is mindful of events and investigating matters in Tasmania, there are really no tangible steps that we can see to respond to the most recent incidents.
Ms ARCHER - I did confirm earlier, and I'm quite happy to make it perfectly clear for this committee, that both I and Tasracing fully support Racing Australia, Harness Racing Australia and other parties calling for the development of a national horse traceability register that is extending beyond the career of a racehorse.
I have long held that view. That is the view that I made sure was expressed at the ministers' meeting. Tasracing fully supports responsible breeding which, in many respects, due to the size of our breeding industry -
Ms O'CONNOR - You fund breeding. You fund over-breeding.
Ms ARCHER - is already in practice in Tasmania. At present, our breeding industry does not breed enough horses for our own racing and the state and is a net importer of horses.
Ms O'CONNOR - To send off to the abattoir.
Ms ARCHER - No, this has a minor benefit to larger states' rehoming needs. Tasracing will go forward with initiatives that will have a direct impact on equine welfare in the state while we await the structured response of Racing Australia and Harness Racing Australia to ensure that we can put our resources and programs into the right places and are developed to complement and support the national initiatives.
Ms O'CONNOR - You wouldn't even tell us how many horses have been rehomed.
Ms ARCHER - Ms O'Connor, I don't think Mr Eriksson was given an opportunity to answer that directly.
Ms O'Connor - I asked you the question.
Ms ARCHER - I now have that information, but I was answering Mr O'Byrne's question. I fully support what has been done nationally in that regard and the ongoing efforts to ensure that consistency across Australia.
Mr O'BYRNE - Minister, given that media occurred and the Victorian Government responded very quickly to this matter, given all of that is occurring nationally, what steps have you taken, since the Victorian Government's announcement during the spring carnival, to ensure yourself that practices in Tasmania are appropriate?
Ms ARCHER - As I explained in parliament in relation to that ABC 7.30 Report -
Mr O'BYRNE - Did you ever watch it?
Ms ARCHER - I am just going to address -
Mr O'BYRNE - It is really about -
Ms O'CONNOR - That is a way of saying no.
Ms ARCHER - No, I am trying to respect the process here, Mr O'Connor.
CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, can you please allow Mr O'Byrne to have his rotation? Yours is up next.
Ms ARCHER - It is very distracting because I am trying to answer one question and I am very happy to answer questions separately. Following the broadcast on 17 October, and I did watch it, Ms O'Connor, I was horrified, as industry participants were as well, many of whom got on the radio very soon after and expressed their disgust in the practice as well.
There was that allegation about Tasmanian horses, so Mr Eriksson wrote to the ABC on 13 November to try to access documents, information and evidence used to make the claim. He has had to make a freedom of information request, pursuant to the 1982 act. The information was not and has not been provided, so it makes it very difficult to investigate the veracity of that when both the Office of Racing Integrity and Tasracing want to be able to.
The ABC wrote back on 26 November advising Tasracing that it was specifically exempt from the operation of the FOI act in relation to its program materials and documents in relation to its program materials. As a consequence, in the absence of information the ABC used in its program to make the claims about Tasmanian racehorses, neither Tasracing nor the Office of Racing Integrity have been able to investigate but they stand ready to undertake a proper and thorough investigation made in the 7.30 Report program. It is very difficult, like it is when Ms O'Connor produces the contents of alleged emails that we don't know the veracity of.
Ms O'CONNOR - It is not alleged. I am sitting at a parliamentary table, so I am telling the truth.
Ms ARCHER - It is very difficult.
Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, how many horses were rehomed through Off the Track the year before last and last year of the reporting period?
Mr ERIKSSON - Ms O'Connor, Off the Track is aimed at assisting owners, trainers and participants to rehome and then retrain. We do not specifically keep a record of every individual horse that Off the Track has rehomed. We are working with the industry to do that.
Ms O'CONNOR - Have any been rehomed?
Mr ERIKSSON - Ms O'Connor, may I just finish, please? What we are aimed at is, in the 2018 19 year, there were 189 racehorses rehomed as recorded in the Racing Australia retirement forms. I can advise that, since July, we have kept records of that particular piece of information that arose as part of my review of Tasracing. I can advise that, since July, there have been 41 racehorses specifically rehomed through Off the Track as opposed to those participating in clinics.
Ms O'CONNOR - To confirm, and sorry, I don't mean to interrupt you but I hope to get some clarification, are you confirming that in the time that Off the Track has been operational, there are 41 horses that have been rehomed through Off the Track?
Mr ERIKSSON - That is not what I said, Ms O'Connor. I said that, since 1 July this year until early October, there were 41 horses that were rehomed through Off the Track. What I did say was that we did not keep detailed records of that particular information prior to that. That is one of the challenges we had with the way that the Off the Track Program was run. It was focused specifically at getting the clinics, getting horses into the clinics, getting participants into the clinics and educating them, so that the horse and the new owner were comfortable and we did not get the returns.
Ms O'CONNOR - There is a right to information document that was provided by Tasracing to us on 26 November and I want some clarity regarding the data. The question was: how many horses are currently being raced - thoroughbreds and pacers? There were 313 standardbred horses currently racing for the season of 2019-20. The number of thoroughbred horses that are currently racing for the 2019-20 season is 336.
Then the question is asked, what number have been raced in thoroughbred and pacing in the past 24 months, broken down by Tasmania and interstate horses? Standardbred horses is at 709 and, that is for the 2017-18 season, and thoroughbred horses is 485. In this year, it has gone up to 726. My question is, are they 726 individual horses in those two years? Is that a direct replacement of the 336 in the current racing year? How do we interpret those numbers, in which one set says 336 thoroughbreds are racing and another answer says that there were 726 in the previous year? Are they 726 different animals?
Mr ERIKSSON - Ms O'Connor, the 336 thoroughbred horses are 336 active racing thoroughbred horses at that date, which I believe was 20 November. The 726 is a reflection of the total number of unique horses that took part in races in that year.
Ms O'CONNOR - In the 2018-19 -
CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, you have had four questions again in a row.
Ms O'CONNOR - With respect, Chair -
CHAIR - No, you have changed to a different theme as well. Mr Tucker now has the call.
Ms O'CONNOR - Honestly, these GBE hearings have turned into a farce.
CHAIR - Ms O'Connor!
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Chair. These hearings have turned into a farce. These are questions that are of public interest. We're getting another Dorothy Dixer and then we will hear one from Ms Ogilvie. People who are asking these questions -
Ms OGILVIE - I'm entitled to ask a question.
Ms O'CONNOR - You are entitled to a lot of things, apparently.
CHAIR - All comments through the Chair. Ms O'Connor, your concerns are now on the public record.
Ms O'CONNOR - This issue of data is disgraceful. People who care about animals are watching this. There was no answer to those questions.
Ms ARCHER - On a point of order. Ms O'Connor just said there was no answer to those questions.
Ms O'CONNOR - I'm trying to get to the bottom of what 726 unique animals is.
Ms ARCHER - Mr Eriksson is answering your questions to the best of his ability.
Ms O'CONNOR - Yes, but because your Chair is trying to shut down my questioning -
Ms ARCHER - The Chair determines the allocation, not us.
Ms O'CONNOR - Are there 726 different animals? That is a question that should be answered.
CHAIR - For the benefit of Hansard, I ask that all interruptions stop. The call goes to Mr Tucker.
Mr TUCKER - Tasmania's Summer Racing Carnival was a major event on the racing calendar. Can the minister update the committee about preparations about this year's Tasmania Summer Racing Carnival?
Ms ARCHER - Thank you, Mr Tucker. The Tasmanian Summer Racing Carnival is important. I had an opportunity to assist with the launch or a number of series of launches that are occurring throughout the state.
Mr Tucker, given that you are the only one interested in the answer for the summer racing carnival, I was delighted to be able to launch the first of a series of initiatives of the local clubs as well as through Tasracing of the summer racing carnival. It is one of the premier events attracting tens of thousands of people from across the state and interstate as well. As I said in my opening statement, it injects around $103 million a year into our local economy so it is a very important part of that and in jobs across our regions. Businesses that also benefit from the summer racing carnival - fashion retailers no less, as well as many other enormous beneficiaries of race days, as people look up to dress in their finest to take part in the festival. I know many of the race days also there are not-for-profit organisations that hold their fundraisers on race days as well for the benefit of their charities.
It will be the first carnival in 2020 involving Tasmanian racing's headline new sponsor, Ladbrokes. Tasmanian racing is very excited to have Ladbrokes on board. It is a lucrative partnership including sponsorship of each of the three major cups being the Devonport, Launceston and Hobart cups. We see the return of racing to Elwick on 31 January for Tasmanian Derby Day. Again, the importance of that redevelopment at Elwick is significant to all industry goers.
I wish all involved in the carnival from the jockeys, the trainers, the owners, the strappers, the race clubs, staff and of course the horses and the many stewards, vets and those who ensure their safety throughout the carnivals as well, the best as they undertake their preparations for the summer racing carnival.
Mr O'BYRNE - Your Government went to the last election claiming and making a commitment that stakemoney would be increased by 4 per cent each year until 2022. How will this be achieved having regard to the financial loss Tasracing made last year and the current outlook for race field fees so far this year, 2019-20, which is pretty grim from what I understand? How will you commit to that?
Ms ARCHER - I am not sure I accept your premise that it is pretty grim. Certainly, Tasracing is still in a strong financial position in relation to its cash reserves. I think Mr Eriksson would like to address the first component of that.
Mr ERIKSSON - In terms of the statements there, my understanding of the commitment was that it would grow at least a 2 per cent plus another 2 per cent incentive to get the four and the second 2 per cent was as permitted, as my understanding was the wording. I am not using the right term. As available, perhaps, would be a better phrase, as funding permitted.
The fact that we have grown at in excess of 6 per cent compound annual growth, year on year, we have achieved that already. In terms of our financial result for the year just gone, 2019 year, that was coloured by three key components which were predominantly non cash. The first was the write-off of the redundant Elwick track assets which were removed as the track has been refurbished. The second was the upgrade of workers compensation claims relating predominantly to jockey injuries, which happens, and those payments occur in the future. You upgrade the claim estimate and recognise the expense that year. Lastly, was the increase in the defined benefits superannuation. Now, the majority of those three were in excess of the loss. If you remove those items from the result then we did slightly better than just break even.
Mr O'BYRNE - I will get to some of that later because in terms of the commitment by the Government, I have a press release here from Jeremy Rockliff the then minister for Racing. He said:
A re-elected majority Hodgman Liberal Government will take racing to the next level with a target to increase stakes by a minimum of 4 per cent each year and boosting prizemoney for locals …
It said Tasmanian stakes would increase by at least 16 per cent by 2022. How are you going to fund that? I want to ask in questions when the next rotation will answer that with some of the issues but Tasracing in terms of sustainability has rarely been able to get into the black. It is always and that is why -
Ms O'CONNOR - Despite that massive public subsidy.
Mr O'BYRNE - Well, the Government has provided -
Ms O'CONNOR - Provided $30 million a year. Pretty good.
Mr O'BYRNE - provided support over a number of years, provided support for paying interest on the loan, on the debt that they have, so can you answer me, minister, how and maybe Tasracing can update you on the current revenues for race fields. They are down significantly, we understand, over 20 per cent. Given that's the case, minister, how can you follow through with that commitment for race fields and when we know, and you've accepted, it's 31 per cent of the industry's revenue? When you look at that component of the industry, that revenue for stakes and the revenue for race fields is crucially important.
Ms ARCHER - As you've read out that policy from the election, it was a target by 2022. Mr Eriksson has explained in relation to reaching 6 per cent which exceeded that 4 per cent. I have every faith in the operations of Tasracing and certainly the governance board under the chairmanship of Mr Phair in relation to how they are managing these ongoing - I wouldn't even say issues but just the day-to-day running of what Tasracing does for the industry in ensuring the sustainability of the industry but in also being able to reach those targets and meet those targets as well.
In relation to wagering and other performance, I know Mr Eriksson has some details ready to go. We can go into more specifics for you, Mr O'Byrne, in relation to that.
Mr ERIKSSON - Thank you, minister. Mr O'Byrne the current challenges faced on revenue is something that the national industry is facing. The 20 per cent is significantly overstated. It is only 14 per cent. In terms of that, if you look back at -
Ms O'BYRNE - That's across the three codes?
Mr ERIKSSON - That is across the three codes.
Mr O'BYRNE - What's the thoroughbred code drop?
Mr ERIKSSON - On this information that I have in my hand I cannot flag that: 20 per cent would be closer to turnover and turnover does not always equate to revenue. That's the way the fees are structured. So, if we look at the revenue coming to Tasracing we're just over 14 per cent down compared to last year at this point of time.
Mr O'BYRNE - Just to clarify, that's across the three codes?
Mr ERIKSSON - That is across the three codes. I will say that the information that is provided to the industry is not the revenue information. It is the turnover information. That is provided -
Mr O'BYRNE - The turnover drives revenue, though.
Mr ERIKSSON - Yes, it does, but it depends on which turnover, I'm afraid. It depends whether it is fixed odds turnover or pari-mutuel, because the model that we use is slightly different for each type of revenue so I'd like to say there is a direct relationship but it is not slight.
I will certainly agree that revenue to Tasracing is down. However, we have seen it fluctuate significantly in the past on a monthly basis. There is the propensity, and we believe the opportunity, to recover a significant portion of this as we go through the summer carnival. We have -
Mr O'BYRNE - Once you start behind the eight ball it's hard to catch up.
Mr ERIKSSON - It is difficult. I will happily concede that it is difficult but we need probably two good months that we had, for example, in May last year where we had a substantial increase well above what was expected. If we have two versions of May we will make up the majority of the deficit that we have in our revenue line.
Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, the final page of the right to information document that we obtained from Tasracing states that 237 thoroughbred horses have been rehomed or retired to breeding in season 2017-18, and 189 thoroughbred horses have been rehomed or retired to breeding in season 2018-19. Would you agree that rehoming a horse is very different from retiring to breeding - and, of course, the geldings aren't given that life choice particularly - and is there any evidence available that those horses have been rehomed?
Ms ARCHER - On the RTI document I will refer to Mr Eriksson because you know that this done at arm's length from me as minister.
Mr ERIKSSON - The information we rely on there are the retirement forms that are provided to Racing Australia as required under the Australian Rules of Racing. We have reviewed a number of those on a spot-check basis and what is documented on the form is what appears to have occurred. I will say that I have negotiated with Racing Australia as part of our actions to have better control and better visibility of what happens. We will be getting information on retirements on the entries to the retirement database on a weekly basis and, in conjunction with ORI, we will be doing spot-checks on that information.
Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, what do you believe is the fate of the majority of ex-racehorses in Tasmania?
Ms ARCHER - That's a loaded question. I would like to think that welfare is paramount. I know that the Office of Racing Integrity does everything it can in relation to the reporting of welfare issues for those in the industry, as Mr Eriksson has outlined for you today, in relation to obligations under the Animal Welfare Act. Once a horse is no longer in the industry, the Animal Welfare Act provisions apply and no-one in the industry would like to think that any horse is euthanased in a cruel manner.
Ms O'CONNOR - I think you're making a broad generalisation that can't be established. In fact, there are people in the industry -
Ms ARCHER - You asked me what my belief is.
Ms O'CONNOR - What happens to the majority of ex-racing horses, given that the RTI is clear that there are 726 thoroughbreds being raced for season 2018-19. and at best, 189 have been rehomed or retired to breeding. What do you think happens to the majority of those ex-racehorses that earned large sums of money for their owners and trainers?
Ms ARCHER - Well, you are asking me what I think. I will refer to Mr Eriksson on what he knows to be the case, given it is the RTI document from Tasracing and those statistics are kept through Tasracing.
Ms O'CONNOR - But from a policy point of view, as minister you should know.
Ms ARCHER - As a policy decision, of course I wouldn't like to think that any animal suffers needlessly.
Mr ERIKSSON - Ms O'Connor, thank you for your question on that. Specifically as I was replying earlier, the 726 relates to unique horses that have raced in Tasmania, not domiciled in Tasmania. They are horses that have raced in Tasmania. They may very well have come from the mainland, raced here and gone back to the mainland, so you cannot correlate that.
Ms O'CONNOR - No, but we are trying to establish information about the fate of ex racehorses or ex-pacers like that poor misbegotten horse, Alone Again, that ended up dumped near ZooDoo. What we are trying to establish here -
Ms ARCHER - We can go there if you want because you still haven't corrected the record on your false allegations.
Ms O'CONNOR - I'm not going to correct any record until you give me some hard evidence.
Ms ARCHER - False allegations: the body was exhumed, Ms O'Connor.
Ms O'CONNOR - There was no investigation until we harassed you about it at the Estimates table, but carry on.
Ms ARCHER - It was investigated and you know you were wrong.
CHAIR - Order, order. For the benefit of Hansard there are too many voices.
Ms O'CONNOR - I'm trying to establish here on behalf of everyone who cares about these animals - and there are people in the industry who are really worried about this too - what is the fate of ex-racehorses, the majority of them in Tasmania?
Ms ARCHER - Mr Eriksson has explained in relation to the figures. You are trying to draw a correlation that does not exist.
Ms O'CONNOR - No, I'm just asking a straight question: what is the fate of these animals?
Ms ARCHER - There is quite a distinct difference between horses that have raced here and horses -
Ms O'CONNOR - You are obfuscating - what is their fate?
Ms ARCHER - I am not obfuscating at all. I don't even think Mr Eriksson had finished explaining those figures properly but he did make that point of clarification.
CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, I am sorry, you have had four questions.
Ms O'CONNOR - Chair, there has been no answer to the question. I have asked one question four times because it has not been answered.
CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, it is on the public record. The call now goes to Mrs Rylah.
Ms O'CONNOR - The information that is being sought is not on the public record, Chair. This is a protection racket and I am sick of this. Every year you people do this at Estimates. I can't wait till you're back in opposition.
CHAIR - It is noted on the record. You will have another turn soon.
Mrs RYLAH - Minister, quality breed stock and genetic depth are absolutely essential for breeding equine athletes, whether it is in the thoroughbred industry or the standardbred industry.
CHAIR - Order, Ms O'Connor. Mrs Rylah has the call, so can we please let her speak without interruption?
Ms O'CONNOR - At least there will be an answer to this question, I guess, Chair.
CHAIR - Order.
Mrs RYLAH - Minister, can you update the committee on how the Government and Tasracing is supporting the harness breeding sector which helps important local businesses through the significant flow-on into regions and jobs in regional Tasmania?
Ms ARCHER - Thank you, Mrs Rylah, and it is good to have some interest in our harness breeding sector. It normally comes from Labor but we are too hung up on Treasury matters, particularly the previous matters, which were the subject of a debate in parliament, which -
Mr O'BYRNE - Funding for the industry? I can tell you the trotting people are very excited about the point of consumption tax. They want you to come clean on a fair share of that and you won't even do it.
Ms ARCHER - I am advised the Treasurer answered extensively on the Floor of parliament. Mr O'Byrne is just being tricky today.
CHAIR - Order. Can we just let the minister -
Ms O'CONNOR - You're not interested in the minister's answer - you've got the script there.
Ms BUTLER - One month away.
Ms ARCHER - Ms Butler, what is one month away? Have you got a question?
Ms BUTLER - The summer season. Sorry, am I answering questions?
Ms O'CONNOR - No, the minister is deflecting from having to answer.
Ms ARCHER - I am very happy to answer the question, Chair, but Ms Butler keeps sitting at the table and having these little flicks at me but not asking any questions, and it's quite distracting.
CHAIR - Order, there is too much talking at the table. The minister has the call.
Ms BUTLER - This is instigated by the minister.
CHAIR - Ms Butler can have the call next. Minister, please finish answering the question.
Ms ARCHER - As I was saying, it was good to get a question on the harness breeding sector instead of questions that Mr O'Byrne asked the Treasurer extensively during the debate on the Floor of parliament in relation to a taxation issue.
Mr O'BYRNE - He didn't answer, so I'm hoping the minister might stand up for the industry.
Ms ARCHER - It is a matter for the Treasurer in relation to that debate. It was his bill that he took through.
The harness sector has produced many champions, including Beautide, who in recent years won some of Australia's great harness races and was twice crowned Australian Horse of the Year in 2014 and 2015.
Ms O'CONNOR - Do you know what happened to him?
Ms ARCHER - He was bred in north-eastern Tasmania by the Rattray family. I remind members that Tasracing has the legislative responsibility to support and develop the breeding industry in Tasmania.
Ms O'CONNOR - Overbreeding.
Ms ARCHER - At the election, the Government committed $250 000 over five years to further support the harness breeding sector -
Mr TUCKER - Chair, I am still having trouble hearing the minister with murmurs up the other end.
Ms O'CONNOR - Just get the script from her later; it's fine.
CHAIR - Order.
Ms ARCHER - What was that, Mr O'Byrne?
Mr O'BYRNE - I was just responding to Mr Tucker, that's all.
Ms ARCHER - The funding was provided in 2018-19 and supported a number of other Tasmanian racing initiatives, including a Tasmanian-bred $5000 bonus paid for a Tasmanian-bred eligible horse on its first win as a two-year-old or three-year-old, or a $2000 bonus for the first win as a four-year-old or older. There was also a series of $12 000 heats and $50 000 finals for each set. Sets were conducted for two-year olds, three-year olds, and four-year-old Tasmanian-bred horses. A Tasmanian-bred breeders' coupon for eligible horses could win an additional 10 per cent of stake money to be used as coupon at February's Tasmanian harness yearling sale or for breeding to Tasmanian-based stallions; foal notification rebate, which was for breeders' foal notification costs; and a reimbursement provided for newborn foals -
Ms O'CONNOR - Don't you think this is disgusting that this is state-sponsored cruelty where there is public money being paid to owners to overbreed horses that are sent to the knackery?
CHAIR - Order, Ms O'Connor, this is your first warning. I don't think that you want to be asked to leave the committee.
Ms O'CONNOR - It makes me physically ill, Chair, listening to this stuff.
CHAIR - If we have to stop the committee, if I have to name you, then there will be no more time left in this committee.
Ms O'CONNOR - I do have to be here because otherwise no-one else will answer it.
CHAIR - I ask that you allow the minister to give her answer in silence, please.
Ms ARCHER - If it was left up to Ms O'Connor, she would shut the entire industry down and 500 000 people would be without a job or participation in an industry.
Ms O'CONNOR - Hear that glass jaw shattering.
Ms ARCHER - No, I don't have a glass jaw, Ms O'Connor. You come here and you distract a committee. There are people that contribute enormously to this industry and yet your policy is to shut it down.
Ms O'CONNOR - You are pathetic.
Ms ARCHER - I will continue. Breeders' foal notification costs are reimbursed provided that newborn foals are notified to the Office of Racing Integrity within 28 days of the birth of a foal; and the yearling sale win bonus, which is the owner of a horse presented for sale at the annual Tasmanian harness yearling sale is eligible for a $2000 first win bonus if the horse wins as a two year old or three-year-old.
Earlier this year the industry welcomed Tourello Standardbreds to Tasmania. They have moved from Victoria to Sheffield and are contributing significantly by way of quality farmland and feed as well as support for Tasracing.
Tasracing is currently undertaking a review of harness racing, including the breeding sector and support schemes. Extensive consultation has occurred with industry participants over recent months, including consultative meetings across the state and the taking of written submissions. Final engagement with industry will occur later this month to share outcomes of the review and gain general consensus on positive changes.
In closing, following this final consultation, Tasracing is looking to implement changes throughout 2020.
CHAIR - Ms Butler, did you want the call next?
Mr O'BYRNE - No, she was just responding to an interjection from the minister.
Ms ARCHER - I didn't make an interjection then; I was answering a question.
CHAIR - If you don't want to have the call - I can hear your mumblings even down here. If are sitting at the table and don't want the call, I ask that your mumblings cease. I can hear them here as well.
Ms BUTLER - I was verballed by the minister because at no time did I ask for the call.
CHAIR - We all can hear it. It echoes in here and Hansard can pick it up too. The call goes to Mr O'Byrne.
Mr O'BYRNE - I think you made an oblique reference to this in one of your previous answers. Can you confirm that the Government has withdrawn its practice of funding the interest and guarantee fee on Tasracing's debt as from this financial year, and that it would also no longer make available an equity injection annually to facilitate the capital repayment of that debt? Is that right?
Ms ARCHER - It was under the arrangement, wasn't it?
Mr ERIKSSON - It was, minister, if I may comment. The Treasurer advised in a letter earlier this year - I do not have the exact date with me - that the debt support funding would be withdrawn. It was at his discretion. The $250 000 equity is effectively still being paid but is part of the overall savings and we will only receive a portion of that.
Mr O'BYRNE - When the industry had to endure the reset back in 2014-15, it was a funding deed agreed at that time and the industry was accepting of the reset. That is a breach of that undertaking back when you first came to government, isn't it?
Ms ARCHER - No, it's not a breach of the undertaking. The language you are using is not quite right. That difficult decision needed to be made for the sustainability of the racing industry because under your previous government, that certainly would not have occurred under the previous deal. As I ran through, by amending the funding deed we made significant measures for the ongoing viability and sustainability of the industry and to allow Tasracing the flexibility of the management of the industry, its affairs and its finances to give them flexibility for sustainability.
There are a number of things within that question which I don't accept.
Mr O'BYRNE - Essentially, the Government has removed the support to the industry that it agreed to in terms of the reset in 2014-15.
Ms ARCHER - You are trying to paint a picture that we are withdrawing support from Tasracing and that is not true.
Mr O'BYRNE - As part of the deed, you said that you would fund the interest and provide a contribution to make the capital repayment. You are no longer doing that.
Ms ARCHER - That is not the case. In relation to how Tasracing moves forward in funding its ongoing infrastructure programs, that has been a decision made by Tasracing. Mr Eriksson?
Mr ERIKSSON - Thank you, minister. I don't know if you will find it's actually in the deed. The debt and interest was in a letter afterwards, a discretion.
Mr O'BYRNE - Okay, so that's a different level of commitment from the Government. It's not the industry's understanding.
Mr ERIKSSON - The industry hasn't been briefed on that, Mr O'Byrne.
Mr O'BYRNE - It was announced in the budget, wasn't it?
Mr ERIKSSON - My apologies, sir?
Ms ARCHER - Mr O'Byrne is claiming to be in touch with the industry but I would prefer to hear from the industry, themselves. I certainly won't be taking Mr O'Byrne's word for gospel, that is for sure.
Mr O'BYRNE - This goes to the heart of the debate we're having about the point of consumption tax and the revenue from that point of consumption tax to go to the industry. The industry has been overwhelmingly clear that, given that is a tax raised by the activities of the industry, to maintain sustainability, build profitability and maintain the industry's viability into the future, that a fair share of that point of consumption tax ought to go to the industry.
The questions go to the heart of the revenue for Tasracing and the ability for the Government to commit to the election commitment you made of the 16 per cent increase in stakes money. You are not clear and, as minister, you didn't speak on it in the parliament. You have made no public announcement about the fair share of that revenue or what that revenue will look like. What we're worried about is that you have Tasracing, which is running at a significant loss; whether we can talk about workers compensation, it's a loss on the books. If there is extra revenue there for the industry -
Ms ARCHER - Is there a question?
Mr O'BYRNE - Yes, I will get to the question. I'm trying to explain it to you because you don't seem to be understanding it.
Ms ARCHER - I do understand.
Mr O'BYRNE - Well, no, you don't. Will you rule out using part of that fund, the money raised from the point of consumption tax, to prop up Tasracing because you have removed an agreement you gave at the reset in 2014-15, which further undermines the industry into the future?
Ms ARCHER - Mr O'Byrne, you clearly don't know what your policy was, announced by Mr Bacon, the former shadow racing minister, on -
Ms O'Connor - What has this got to do with the question?
Mr O'BYRNE - So, you are not going to answer the question. That is irrelevant.
Ms ARCHER - It is relevant.
CHAIR - Order. Let the minister finish.
Ms ARCHER - It is relevant. On 17 April this year, Labor was going to collect the tax and put it back into the state coffers; in other words, not give it back to the industry.
Mr O'BYRNE - That's not true.
Ms ARCHER - You better check that.
Mr O'BYRNE - You are the Government. You can't even speak on it in parliament.
Ms ARCHER - In the media, Mr Bacon confirmed that.
Mr O'BYRNE - Mr Bacon is no longer here.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Chair.
Ms ARCHER - So, that wasn't a policy of the previous shadow treasurer.
Ms O'CONNOR - The minister should be answering Mr O'Byrne's question, not -
Mr O'BYRNE - You're just reading from a handwritten note from your adviser.
Ms ARCHER - No, I remember it. I remember thinking at the time that was very, very interesting, whereas we're engaged with the industry -
Mr O'BYRNE - The commitment was that we would engage with the industry.
Ms ARCHER - to discuss all of this. I covered all of this at the start.
Mr O'BYRNE - What is your position on the point of consumption tax share?
Ms ARCHER - I stated my position on the point of consumption tax at the very start -
CHAIR - Mr O'Byrne, you have asked a question. The minister is responding and I ask that you let the minister respond without interjection.
Ms ARCHER - Mr O'Byrne is clearly just arguing. I answered the question in relation to the point of consumption tax, that there is ongoing discussion with the industry, that Tasracing is having with the industry, that a formal submission will be put through from Tasracing and we continue to have that engagement with them. Mr O'Byrne has asked his questions extensively of the Treasurer in relation to the Treasurer's bill in the House recently. He is now, dangerously, always reflecting on that debate. In any event, we're having those ongoing discussions and Mr O'Byrne has run out of questions because he keeps coming back to the same -
Mr O'BYRNE - That is because you haven't answered it.
Ms ARCHER - I just answered it, and you better refresh your memory as to what Labor's policy was because you would take it all for the government and not give it to the industry.
Mr O'BYRNE - Will you rule out using the point of consumption tax revenue to prop up Tasracing and not fulfil the commitment to increase race stakes?
Ms ARCHER - Read your own policy, as announced by Mr Bacon.
Mr O'BYRNE - Can you answer the question, minister?
CHAIR - The call goes to Ms O'Connor.
Ms O'CONNOR - That was about 12 questions. Minister, I want to turn to the equally unfortunate fate of many dogs that are unwilling participants in the greyhound racing industry. Do you know what the rates of what they would describe as wastage? That is, dogs that are either not named because once they are whelped they don't get a name, they're not fast enough, they get injured, they pass their use-by date, or they're too expensive to feed and die a premature death. Are you able to tell the committee what the wastage rates are for dogs in the greyhound industry in the past financial year and the year prior to that?
Mr ERIKSSON - Ms O'Connor, that is a number we are committed to reducing. If you would permit, I will go to that point. In terms of the numbers that you're referring to and, if I may, I will talk to the 2016-17 number and the 2018-19 number.
Ms O'CONNOR - You said 2016-17, but where's the 2017-18?
Mr ERIKSSON - I'll give you that too, if you would like.
Ms O'CONNOR - Sure.
Mr ERIKSSON - The numbers are categorised, and I will say that the greyhound industry is far better at maintaining their records, because they have been required to, than the equine industry but we are getting better. In terms of your question, the tag would be 'euthanased, not for racing'. It is one I am appalled at and one that we will get to zero. In 2016-17, the number of dogs was 77. In 2017 18, the number of those dogs was 62. In 2018-19, the number of those dogs was 34. The greyhound welfare rules that we will be bringing in over the next two months will drive that to zero.
Ms ARCHER - They're the local rules.
Ms O'CONNOR - Why don't you do local rules for the horseracing industry instead of deferring to the national rules?
Ms ARCHER - Oh, Ms O'Connor.
Ms O'CONNOR - Well, that's a fair question. You're prepared to do local rules for the dogs but not for the horses. Interesting.
Ms ARCHER - I am sorry I interrupted Mr Eriksson because he was answering that.
Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Mr Eriksson.
Ms ARCHER - It is good news that it's a local rule.
Mr ERIKSSON - The minister is correct, it is a local rule. In terms of the local rules in relation to equine, we are looking at changes we can make. One of those changes we will be making is an equine rule welfare defining how many runs a horse may have within a 30-day window. It is not that we are not looking at it. It is that we are not there yet. We are working through a process. We will also be looking at other local rules for equine and other local rules for the greyhounds.
Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Mr Eriksson. This is an answer that, minister, you may be able to give and it's come through the Office of Racing Integrity that, unfortunately, is not at the table today. In response to an RTI request asking for the number of Tasmanian-registered greyhounds, for example, that entered racing in Tasmania in each of these months, we have here -
Ms ARCHER - Ms O'Connor, can you clarify, was that an RTI to the Office of Racing Integrity?
Ms O'CONNOR - To ORI, yes. It has, for example, at the second question, it talks about pending, pending, pending, pending, so it wasn't answered. Can I have a commitment from you today that, rather than us having to go back and do another right to information request to ask for information that's already been requested and not provided, this RTI request could be relodged with you and that there might be more answers to some of the questions?
Ms ARCHER - Ms O'Connor, I am unable to say why they couldn't be answered and you're entitled to ask that question, I would have thought. I can't give an undertaking on behalf of the independent Office of Racing Integrity.
Ms O'CONNOR - Well, you can.
Ms ARCHER - No, an RTI is done at independent, arms' length -
Ms O'CONNOR - You know that under the Right to Information Act you have an authority here.
Ms ARCHER - No, an RTI is actually done at an independent arm's length from the minister, and you are just trying to be a little bit too tricky and smart by half.
Ms O'CONNOR - No, I'm not. I've read the act. You have the authority.
Ms ARCHER - I'm not going to give any undertaking to a document I haven't seen or had explained as to why that information couldn't be provided. I'm sure there are very good reasons why it couldn't be provided.
Ms O'CONNOR - Well, there are things like, 'This information is pending and will be answered in late August 2018', and we've still got no answer to that question. The question was how many vet certificates confirming the greyhound's condition have been forwarded to Racing Services Tasmania in this period? The answer was, 'This information is pending and will be answered in late August 2018', and there was no answer. So I am asking you in the interests of transparency, in good faith, if the answers to these questions could be updated, because ORI made it clear that they intended to provide the pending information.
Ms ARCHER - Ms O'Connor, I haven't seen that document. I would need to know what the document is to refer to.
Ms O'CONNOR - I'm surprised you haven't seen it. It's an RTI relating to welfare in the greyhound racing industry.
Ms ARCHER - It predates me being minister. As you said, it had figures of 2018 on there - not figures but referring to a date when something would be provided at a later date.
Ms O'CONNOR - We'll have another go at it because you're not prepared to make a commitment.
CHAIR - Mr Tucker.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Chair. I listened to Mr O'Byrne ask a dozen questions. I just asked two and have been shut down again.
CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, Mr O'Byrne gets to ask more questions than you.
Ms O'CONNOR - It's not three to one. I understand that, but he asked a dozen questions.
CHAIR - The call goes to Mr Tucker.
Ms O'CONNOR - People who are concerned about animal welfare in this state are getting shafted at this table.
CHAIR - Thank you. Your concerns are noted.
Ms O'CONNOR - They're not. You couldn't care less. You just want to run cover for your mates.
Mr TUCKER - We all know how important sporting clubs are to communities. Can the minister provide details of how local racing clubs are supported to attract people to enjoy a great day or night out at the races?
Ms ARCHER - Thank you, Mr Tucker. As members will know, a day at the races are enjoyed by many people around Tasmania whether it's one of the big cup meetings, the St Marys or Longford New Year's Day races, or a night at the greyhounds, or many other events. Tasmania's racing clubs do a fantastic job in marketing their race days and nights, and of course catering is significant for a lot of the local racing clubs and the tens of thousands of Tasmanians and interstate visitors who attend our races every year. The challenge for clubs is to maintain relevance in the current entertainment market in the face of rapidly increasing competition in relation to the many different sporting and other events available for people to attend.
As we know, digital and social media is critical in terms of engagement with younger demographics and many clubs have had to adjust from traditional marketing to that more modern way of communicating race day information and bookings and the like.
In order to assist clubs in this area, I commend Tasracing for delivering a range of marketing and event support services to clubs, such as funding and operation of the Go Racing Tasmania marketing campaign. Go Racing Tasmania is a year-round marketing campaign designed to raise awareness of racing among local and interstate markets. Tasracing is funding and operating goracingtasmania.com.au which is an e-commerce enabled website presenting information about all of the state's 15 racing clubs across the three codes, and the supply of social media promotional material, including advertisements and promotional banners, so all of that is provided to the clubs.
They also supply advice and guidance to them on the use of social media; the supply of sponsorship proposal templates to clubs enabling them to present professional proposals for sponsorship; the development of marketing programs for club use, for example, Young Racing Tasmania for the Devonport Racing Club, the Tasmanian Racing Club and Tasmanian Turf Club; marketing services for major events such as the Tasmanian Summer Racing Carnival, Greyhound Hobart 1000 and Tasmania Pacing Cup; the provision of discounted supplier rates for marketing services accessed by Tasracing; graphic design services for club marketing and event needs; and management of master sponsorship agreements, including venue naming rights, wagering operator sponsorships, summer carnival naming rights and brewery sponsorship. There is quite a significant amount of investment in assistance that Tasracing provides all of our clubs around Tasmania in that regard.
Mr O'BYRNE - What does the decision to withdraw the practice of funding the interest and guarantee fee on the debt materially represent? What is the cost of that? What is the total value of that to Tasracing? That is funding that will no longer come from the Government? What is the figure? You did sort of bandy 250 about, but could you let us know what that figure is?
Mr ERIKSSON - Yes, the 250 is separate. The 250 is an equity contribution that is targeted at our capital expenditure. The debt support funding is a mix of capital and expense and it is about $500 000 on each side, so it is about $1 million in cash.
Mr O'BYRNE - You will lose from Government about $1 million in cash on the bottom line?
Mr ERIKSSON - No. Sorry, only $0.5 million from the bottom line.
Mr O'BYRNE - Only $0.5 million, given you racked up a $2 million debt.
Mr ERIKSSON - A total $2.37 million of that was predominantly non-cash. The challenge we have here is the difference between what we report in our books from the accounting process and the cash balance. The cash balance remains strong and has only decreased $3.78 million over the last year, even though we lost $2.37 million in accounting terms. That $3.78 million was directly attributable to the amount expended on the refurbishment of the Elwick racetrack, which was a substantial amount in the 2018-19 year.
Mr O'BYRNE - Once you complete Elwick, what impact will that have on the bottom line and on the books of Tasracing? That will be an asset that you will have to manage, depreciate, et cetera, so what impact will that have on Tasracing?
Mr ERIKSSON - Whilst there will be depreciation from that being a leasehold asset developed, we hope it will generate significant revenue because of the increased quality of racing we will be able to hold on the course. In terms of what the impact will be, we will need to see.
Ms ARCHER - And there should be fewer cancellations, I would imagine, because of the track surface being better quality.
Mr O'BYRNE - But it's a massive asset now that will move onto the books.
Ms ARCHER - A race does bring significant fees, Mr O'Byrne.
Mr O'BYRNE - No doubt about that.
Mr ERIKSSON - The asset that will move onto the books will be the spend on that which will depreciate or amortise over the life of the track, so 25 years. I don't believe you will find it will have a significant impact because if the track does what it is planned to do, we will have no bias, we will have better drainage across the track, so the intention is to run meetings through the year, whereas at the moment we have a break in the middle of between six and eight weeks where we are physically unable to run a meeting because of the quality of the track.
Mrs RYLAH - I believe it will be safer as well.
Mr ERIKSSON - It is far safer.
Mr O'BYRNE - I'm not arguing that. In terms of the loss one of the reasons you give for the loss is workers comp. I know there has been a long history with jockey workers comp issues and we absolutely support workers comp, but how would workers comp, either managed by an insurance company or an agency, have such a large $1.4 million hit?
Mr ERIKSSON - It is $1.57 million, I believe.
Mr O'BYRNE - You would have an amount of money you would pay for insurance already factored into the books, into the budget going forward. How come it is such a shock to the business?
Mr ERIKSSON - In 2016 we had 22 riders and trial riders injured. In 2017 we had 18 jockeys and trial riders injured. In 2018 we had 20 and in 2019 we had 12. The challenge is the type of policy that we have. It is not cost-effective for Tasracing to do what Racing New South Wales does and effectively self-insure. We just do not have the scope. We do not have the volume of races. We do not have the revenue churn. We have an insurance policy which is effectively what they call a burner policy. Once we have a set premium that we pay each year which is the $500 000 and then it has a limit of around the $2.3 million to $2.4 million mark. As claims increase and as claims develop over time, additional costs are accumulated against those claims. If we have significant claims that have extended over a number of years, as they are developed and assessed each year, that will hurt us.
Mr O'BYRNE - So is the $1.5 million over and above what you have already budgeted?
CHAIR - Mr O'Byrne, that is your last question.
Mr ERIKSSON - No.
Ms ARCHER - Can I add to that, just briefly, that there is also a situation in Tasmania where our workers compensation covers all other training facilities that are not even owned and operated by Tasracing.
Mr O'BYRNE - It is still a workplace, though.
Ms ARCHER - Yes, but that is quite different to other jurisdictions and that significantly increases that claim load as well.
Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, how many dogs are on the waiting list for the Greyhound Adoption Program? Can you explain why the GAP website was down yesterday afternoon?
Ms ARCHER - As for the website, I will ask Mr Eriksson to explain that and he can also clarify how the data has been collected and give you that figure split. In the past the list has been unreliable in relation to its figures.
Mr ERIKSSON - Ms O'Connor, I am not aware that the website was down. What I am aware of is that the list is down.
Ms O'CONNOR - Well the 404 Fancy Meeting You Here is what happens when you put the term Greyhound Adoption Program Tasmania into the website.
Mr ERIKSSON - I will need to check that.
Ms O'CONNOR - GAP Tas.org.au waiting list.
Mr ERIKSSON - That page might be down but I do not believe you will find the website down. Certainly, if it is that is not what is supposed to be. The waiting list was removed because the industry was utilising the waiting list in a holding pattern similar to aged care. So 75 per cent of the dogs that were on the waiting list were still racing.
Ms ARCHER - It was an unreal figure. It was not actually the figure. The real figure was 29, I think.
Ms O'CONNOR - How many dogs are waiting to be rehomed?
Mr ERIKSSON - In terms of actual numbers on that list, and I will say the last time I looked at it, there were only about 20 waiting to go on and be assessed. There is a process that they go through where they sit on that list, they come in, they are assessed, they might still be in their 28 day let down period. They are assessed to come in depending on the results of that assessment. They may go back to the owner/trainer and have to do some additional work and then come back.
The last time I looked at the list there were around 121 dogs on it of which 75 per cent to 76 per cent were still racing. There were four, from memory, that had been rehomed and had not been removed from the list and were required to be cleaned up and a number - and I cannot recall the exact number, but I can get that for you - that had gone to the mainland.
Ms O'CONNOR - Through you, minister, can you confirm, Mr Eriksson, that it is still the case that around a quarter of all dogs born in any bitch's litter are not named and therefore are disposed of? That was evidence that we had come before the parliamentary inquiry that I chaired.
Mr ERIKSSON - Ms O'Connor, I cannot confirm or deny that at this time. I will take it on notice and have that checked.
CHAIR - Thank you. Mrs Rylah.
Ms O'CONNOR - Chair, I have one more final question before the close.
CHAIR - No, you have already had four in a row.
Ms O'CONNOR - Okay, absolute bugger the horses, bugger the dogs. Honestly, you people disgust me. I am not sitting here and listening.
Mrs RYLAH - Minister, we heard earlier about training venues for the industry. Could you please update the Committee on the investments that are being made into improving training venues around Tasmania?
Ms ARCHER - Thank you, Mrs Rylah. Very happy to update because Tasracing is making significant investment in this area. Tasracing is responsible for operations and maintenance of five dedicated training venues throughout the state for the three codes of racing. It's obvious to all of us that facilities need to be kept up to date for the safety of the industry and its participants. Indeed, by way of interjection, Mrs Rylah noted the importance of safety on the Elwick track.
During 2018-19, Tasracing invested more than $1.8 million to improve training venues across the state. This has included $720 000 to upgrade training facilities at Brighton, which provided for a new equine treadmill and weather shelter for training and rehabilitation. There was also a significant security upgrade with additional CCTV cameras installed and increased frequency of sand and gravel top dressing of thoroughbred and harness tracks. The thoroughbred sand track was reblended to provide enhanced drainage. Improvements to the thoroughbred track perimeter fencing to mitigate OH&S risks, ongoing track maintenance to the greyhound facilities and upgrading of equine pool filtration and treating system also were carried out.
A total of $381 000 was spent to improve training facilities at Longford. That included new thoroughbred starting barriers, improved turf management practices, continual improvements to stables, improved site irrigation and pumping systems. Also, the construction of communal rooms for trainers, renovations for thoroughbred sand rolling facility, upgraded thoroughbred training area - called the bullring, I think - redevelopment of the thoroughbred training stall area and installation of a new 730-metre starting area for thoroughbred trials.
At Spreyton racecourse there was another $552 000 invested to improve suitable draining systems, refurbish stable day yards with cinders material, upgrading the irrigation and pumping system in the mounting yard area and renovation of the tapetis synthetic racing surface.
Finally, $145 000 was invested at the Carrick harness facility for installation of a security system, with the maintenance facility and installation of new drainage system within the general public concourse and day stall areas.
It's important to note that all training venues are continually assessed in consultation with users to enhance the outcome to mitigate risk and optimise operational costs. This considerable $1.8 million investment is another example of Tasracing's commitment to continual improvements, not only across the sector but across the state as well.
Mr O'BYRNE - As a part of the arrangement with Tabcorp where they received $0.5 million based on predictions of a reduction in their licence fee, well a significant reduction from the seven down to 1.5, we know that what drives revenue and wagering is getting access to good sponsorship and getting on Sky One. That drives revenue across the state. Have you made any representations to Tabcorp to get Tasmanian races, be they thoroughbred, trotting or greyhound, on more coverage nationally?
Ms ARCHER - There is continual and quite significant work being undertaken in that regard by Tasracing. I know Mr Eriksson is itching to answer that because it's a priority of theirs.
Mr O'BYRNE - But the question is, it's connected to - you've given Tabcorp $0.5 million reduction in what they pay, on the assessments, but you must have leveraged something for that as a part of that deal?
Ms ARCHER - If we can let Mr Eriksson explain.
Mr ERIKSSON - I am not sure what was agreed in Treasury meetings. What I can say, though, is that Tasracing negotiated significantly more Sky One meetings so you'll find that harness, it was specifically targeted at harness to lift their turnover - has 14 more meetings in Sky One this year. We've moved from 39 Sky One meetings to 53 Sky One meetings and what you flag is the absolute intent. The other work that we have done is that we have negotiated with Thoroughbred Network Central to get better coverage on our Wednesday nights racing.
Mr O'BYRNE - Thank you. Before we run out of time, minister, will you commit to a fair share of the revenue from the point of consumption tax? If it's 50-50 it is pretty clear from the industry that that won't be acceptable. Will you fight for the industry with the Treasurer and deliver what is deemed to be a fair outcome at 80-20?
CHAIR - The time for scrutiny has now expired. The next government business to appear before the Committee will be the Motor Accidents Insurance Board at 9.00 a.m. in the morning. Thank you to all.
The Committee adjourned at 4.00 p.m.