The Victorian Coalition Government will provide the Victorian racing industry with up to $79.5 million over four years through the 2011-12 Victorian Budget to help it grow and continue its enormous economic contribution to Victoria.
Minister for Racing Dr Denis Napthine said the establishment of the Victorian Racing Industry Fund (VRIF), through which unclaimed wagering dividends and on-course wagering taxes will be returned to the racing industry, delivered a key Coalition Government commitment.
“The Coalition Government is committed to maintaining and developing racing as a significant industry in Victoria and to ensuring that thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing continues to flourish,” Dr Napthine said.
“These funds will be used to support a range of projects and to help the Victorian racing industry meet future challenges.”
Dr Napthine said a key focus of VRIF would be to increase on-course attendance at Victorian racetracks.
“The Coalition Government will work with racing’s controlling bodies and racing clubs to develop and implement exciting ideas to encourage greater patron numbers at all racing meetings, not just Cup meetings and feature races,” Dr Napthine said.
In addition to meeting current funding commitments, the following key priorities will be funded through VRIF:
> A total of $30 million for improving racetracks and facilities to deliver high-quality racing and training infrastructure and public facilities that will benefit both the racing industry and local communities;
> $10 million for the breeding and sales industry to further encourage the breeding of racing animals in Victoria and to promote Victorian-based sales of racing horses and greyhounds;
> $4 million for drug research to ensure the integrity of all three racing codes through ongoing research to improve the detection of new and emerging drugs and substances that may be used to affect the performance of racing animals;
> $2 million to support the continuation of jumps racing in Victoria by boosting prize money and attracting international involvement in Victorian jumps racing;
> $1 million for the greyhound adoption program to support the retraining and rehousing of racing greyhounds and to better promote the image of greyhound racing;
> $1 million for Living Legends to provide support for the promotion of alternative opportunities for racehorses at the end of their careers, to promote this great tourist attraction and to stimulate a wider interest in Victorian racing; and
> $200,000 for Victorian picnic races, to support essential grass roots racing which provides a training ground for racing participants and important tourism and fundraising opportunities for local communities across Victoria.
“In the event that the total of unclaimed wagering dividends and on-course wagering taxes exceeds the cost of these identified commitments, I will work in partnership with the racing industry to identify appropriate racing industry development initiatives,” Dr Napthine said.
“Racing is a major economic driver for Victoria, generating more than $2 billion annually and employing more than 70,000 Victorians. More than two-thirds of all racing participants reside in regional Victoria and more than 55 per cent of all economic and employment impacts are also generated in regional Victoria.”