Racing Queensland Limited (RQL) has welcomed the Bligh Government’s announcement of funding for various infrastructure projects across Queensland.
RQL Chairman Bob Bentley said the announcement means more than $110 million will be available to fund infrastructure upgrades at Queensland race clubs particularly in regional and country areas.
“In December last year, RQL publicly released its proposed Industry Infrastructure Plan which was warmly received by the majority of stakeholders in all three codes,” Mr Bentley said.
“Earlier this year, vested harness racing interests commenced Supreme Court legal action to stop the sale of Albion Park, a vital element to fund the full Industry Infrastructure Plan.
“RQL was aware race clubs were crying out for vital infrastructure funds now and the majority of harness and greyhound stakeholders supported a new first class facility at Deagon.
“With this in mind and the legal action continuing to delay the investment, RQL put together a revised Industry Infrastructure Plan requesting extra funds from the State Government so top priority work at each of these venues could be started as soon as possible.
“The Bligh Government announcement of another $20 million on top of the $80 million in redirected wagering tax as well as a provision of the $10 million in compensation for the loss of greyhounds at Parklands is incredibly welcomed.
“Subject to approvals, this means much needed work will start at a number of Queensland’s rundown racecourse facilities in a matter of weeks.
“RQL will work closely with all clubs affected to implement the development timetable and processes but we expect work will start at Mackay, Rockhampton, Cairns and Beaudesert first and the other courses to follow.
“The racing schedule will be designed to minimise disruption. For example, while Mackay is being redeveloped, extra races will be held in Townsville and vice versa
“We will also work with the clubs to open up their racecourses to become facilities capable of being used more often for things such as conferences and other community events.
“This Plan is predicated on maximising the use of venues, helping the industry grow and creating jobs for Queenslanders. The aim is to rejuvenate industry infrastructure, secure the future and allow the industry to realise its full potential.
Mr Bentley said negotiations between clubs and RQL on equity partnership deals would still continue.
“We cannot hand over millions of dollars of government funding to individual clubs and walk away,” he said.
“Queensland taxpayers will demand, and deserve nothing less than full accountability for the $110 million committed by the State Government.
“These funds must be used as an investment to grow an industry that currently contributes $1.44 billion to Gross State Product and employs around 30,000 people.
“RQL has had feedback that many clubs prefer an equity relationship, as they see the value in the control body running the racing side of the business. The agreements then free up clubs to place greater focus on their members and driving revenue through non-race day activities.”
Revised Industry Infrastructure Plan
Deagon - $39.9 million
Deagon will be converted to a modern dual purpose facility for greyhound and harness racing. This is a major project for the ongoing development of both codes. There will be the provision of a 1400 metre harness track and a one and two turn greyhound tracks. The provision of these tracks will be crucial to the survival of both codes and will also provide the greyhound code with a stand-alone on-track venue. (Please note this cannot be provided at Albion Park due to the lack of area on the site.)
The greyhound and harness public amenity would consist of a back-to-back structure so that the greyhound racing tracks are not located inside of the harness racing track, as is the case at Albion Park. While the public facilities for greyhound and harness racing would be a back-to-back facility and colocated, the tracks would retain their own identity with first-class viewing of the racing available for both codes.
RQL will work with the thoroughbred trainers currently using Deagon to find a suitable alternative.
Deagon does not have the space to accommodate because a new harness and greyhound facility as well as the Deagon Deviation does not leave room for thoroughbred training.
Plans to extend RQL headquarters and develop a new science centre are suspended until such times as the Albion Park court case is finalised.
Gold Coast - $35.4 million
The plan provides for a complete revamp of the course proper, flood mitigation and the installation of a synthetic training and racing track with tunnel access to the inside of the tracks.
This major upgrade to the Gold Coast facility will deal with major OHS concerns, significantly improving rider and horse safety.
Beaudesert - $7.27 million
The Beaudesert facility will receive a new jockey and official’s area, the existing drainage of the racetrack will be substantially improved and new fencing erected around the track. The tie-up area will receive a basic upgrade and there will be new public facilities. A new sand track will be provided.
Cairns - $1.96 million
The amounts allocated will be directed towards the upgrade of the track, the existing drainage system will be repaired and the current stables are to be renovated to an acceptable standard.
Townsville - $6.34 million
RQL will consult with the Townsville Turf Club and Townsville Greyhounds on the priorities to be funded first.
Mackay - $7.44 million
Allowance has been made for the upgrade and realignment of the racing and training tracks.
Additional allowance has been made to repair the roads and car parks. The onsite infrastructure that is not workplace health and safety compliant will be demolished and insitu asbestos will be safely removed from the site.
Public facilities and members areas will be upgraded to allow for the continuation of the facility as a TAB venue.
Rockhampton - $1.6 million
New kennels and track infrastructure has been allowed for to enable the Rockhampton Greyhounds to be a TAB venue.
Country Racing - $2.35 million
A large amount of this funding has already been spent to make urgent repairs resulting from the recent floods and to help country clubs with workplace health and safety issues.
The $30 million redevelopment of Ipswich is on hold pending the outcome of the Supreme Court Action at Albion Park.