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TasRacing – Status of Industry

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Tags: TasRacing

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, the most recent IER report shows that whelpings, horses and dogs in training, breeders, breeding staff, the number of racing clubs, race meetings, total races and race day attendances have all declined. Despite this - and that's because, we would say, the industry itself is losing its social licence because of programs like the 7.30 Report and Four Corners which exposed the industry - but, despite this, the report claims a significant increase in direct and total value added contribution to the economy.

How can this be true when all measures of participation and productivity have declined? Was there a change in methodology used by the IER since the 2013 report?

Mr ERIKSSON - The methodology has continued to develop over time. The methodologies used in the early days were not as sophisticated as the methodologies used now.

One of the measures that you have ignored is the change to digital. While people are not attending races, there is a significant increase in our digital, as evidenced by the significant growth in our wagering turnover. Certainly, part of that is to do with COVID 19 and the fact that people do not have the ability to spend their discretionary income, but turnover has grown substantially over the last three or four years.

People would rather - and this is a problem that all sports have - people are more comfortable and have fewer problems and prefer to view it with the quality of coverage in their living room, where they don't have to fight a crowd, they don't have to travel, they don't have to deal with other people, they don't have to deal with waiting in a line for a beer or food. They are happy to have a barbecue at home, or go down to the pub and watch it and bet online. That is what we're seeing.

Ms O'CONNOR - I have a final question on this line, please.

CHAIR - I'll go to Mr Tucker, and then I'll come back to you.

Ms O'CONNOR - So, three questions to the Greens. Multiple questions to Labor. As soon as it gets a bit hot -

CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, at this stage there have been 17 questions to Labor and the Greens have had 13 questions, when you're entitled to only half of what Labor gets.

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, I want to go back to this, not so quite fanciful, IER report about the value of the racing industry to Tasmania. I put it to you that the table on page 18, which talks about the total participants in racing, is a false representation of the number of participants. We have here a situation where breeders, owners and trainers are all separated as if they were all individuals, but as we know, for example in greyhound racing, you have a number of people, and I will not name them at this table, who are the breeder, the owner, and the trainer of a dog. Yet the table on page 18 separates out these individuals as if they are all separate people. In fact, there is statement on that page which falsely states: 'In total, there are 5806 individuals who participate in the Tasmanian racing industry'. Can you confirm that is not true?

Mr ERIKSSON - I might get Mr Heald to respond to that as he was closer to that.

Mr HEALD - We believe they are separate. We've sent the question off to IER to answer the question directly. We are waiting on a response; hopefully, it will turn up in any minute.

Ms O'CONNOR - So, an issue has obviously been raised about the robustness of those numbers.

Mr HEALD - We are comfortable that they are separate individuals, however we want get confirmation of that from the authors themselves.

Ms O'CONNOR - Just on that point, you have been comfortable; if a person, for example, there are seven greyhound industry participants we know who are breeders, owners and trainers. If you are comfortable with that data, what designation would they have? Would they be a breeder, or an owner, or a trainer?

Mr HEALD - I will have to wait and see what the authors of the report say, and how they split them up, or how they select which group to put them into. I will have to confirm that with you.

Ms O'CONNOR - So, just on the IER report again, and we maintain that those numbers are manifestly false, it claims that industry participants have increased despite ongoing acknowledgement that the industry is in decline as it loses its social license and is failing to attract new participants.

The report introduces a new category of 'volunteers assisting participants', of whom there are reported to be 756. Is it correct that the number of participants compared to the methodology used in 2013, has actually declined? If you take out the new category of volunteers assisting participants, the total number of participants in the industry, has actually declined?

Mr HEALD - We are not prepared to say that, no. We are happy - this is a look at, to say that there are 5800 identified participants in the racing industry in Tasmania, which is an extraordinary number.

Ms O'CONNOR - Which is a false number, we put it to you. It is a false number,

Mr HEALD - We have 3500 involved in thoroughbred racing, nearly 1700 involved in harness, and around 600 people involved in greyhound racing -

Ms O'CONNOR - With respect, I have got enough, thanks.

CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, you can ask questions, but you cannot direct officials at the table on how you want them to answer. The gentleman is still answering the question. Allow him to finish.

Mr HEALD - Almost 63 per cent of these participants are in regional parts of the state, so this is an important, regional component of Tasmania's economy.

Ms O'CONNOR - Can I just point out to you that there is a difference between the 2013 IER report and the 2019 report? The 2013 one notes in relation to participants that many participants have multiple roles and have only been counted once in respect of their primary role. The 2019 report makes no such note. It is still the case for the 2019 report, do you know?

Mr HEALD - As it is the same question where I answered before, we will get clarification from the authors of the report.

Ms O'CONNOR - It is not the same question, because in 2013 there was a caution to people interpreting the numbers.

CHAIR - If you have asked -

Ms O'CONNOR - Please do not interrupt me when I am asking the question, with respect.

It is not the same question. I asked about the note that was made in the 2013 report that cautioned people about interpreting the data and double or triple counting participants based on their role in the industry. There is no such note in the 2019 report. It is not the same question, with respect. And I ask the question of the minister.

Mr ERIKSSON - Ms O'Connor, in relation to the question, Mr Heald has indicated that he will be advised. It is in all honesty, whilst the caution is not there, and that is a different question. The intent behind the question, I understood, was relating to, when you questioned about the greyhound owner, trainer, breeder, as to how that was counted.

In relation to the intent, I must admit I would support Mr Heald that it is the same question, but as he has advised and he will take on and we will provide that information.