Why’s Racing Bill on fast track?

June 5, 2019

Transparency International NZ asks why the Racing Reform Bill is on the fast track:

TINZ has learned that the Racing Reform Bill is on a fast track for approval by July 31, 2019 including an extremely short 5 day submission window. Submissions are due on June 4, 2019, the day this article is being published.

We are concerned that the overall timetable for the passage of this legislation is inconsistent with the Government’s Open Government Partnership commitments and in its general practice of Parliamentary processes.

The Bill’s Explanatory Note and background information, claim that urgency is necessary to initiate the recovery process for the racing industry and to address the racing industry’s immediate need for supplementary revenue to ensure it is financially sustainable into the future.

Despite this assessment, TINZ’s view is that there is a reasonable public expectation of full and thorough opportunities for public involvement in matters of public debate such as gambling. Gambling is internationally recognised as a corruption and transparency risk, with the New Zealand Racing Board’s 2017/18 annual report identifying $288 million revenue being raised through racing.

We also note the advice of the Treasury that “it is difficult to assess whether the proposals will revitalise the industry, and identifying significant fiscal implications…”

TINZ has made a submission requesting the Select Committee to extend the date set for public consultation, in the interests of transparency and public trust.

The Bill will:

  • provide a legislative mandate for the New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB) to be reconstituted as a body corporate named the Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA)
  • provide a basis for collecting revenue from offshore betting operators that provide betting services to persons residing in New Zealand
  • provide safeguards relating to offshore charges
  • require the Minister to publish a statement explaining why the Minister considers the rates of the charges to be fair and reasonable and also the purposes for which any money collected from the charges may be applied
  • progressively reduce, and then repeal, the totalisator duty currently paid by the NZRB to the Crown under the Gaming Duties Act 1971
  • remove the distribution formula set out in section 16 of the Racing Act 2003, allowing the application and distribution of racing funds to be determined by regulations
  • remove the formula for calculating minimum payments to New Zealand national sporting organisations and create powers to set the formula in regulations
  • permit the relevant body to offer betting products on sports not represented by a qualifying domestic national sporting organisation, provided an agreement was in place with Sport New Zealand.

TINZ isn’t the only organisation with concerns over the fast tracking:

The Salvation Army is extremely disappointed that the Government is prioritising profit and propping up New Zealand’s racing industry over people and problem gambling harm.

In urgency, the Government is passing the Racing Reform Bill. To The Salvation Army’s surprise, the Government has only given the public 3 working days (after a public holiday) to make submissions to this Bill.

“Where is good democracy and giving people and communities a fair go, so they can share their views about this Bill? This is an unfair process, especially as we believe the effects of destructive gambling harm have not been adequately assessed in this Bill’s process” says Lt. Col. Lynette Hutson from The Salvation Army Addictions Services.

“Our staff have had to work over the long weekend to prepare this submission. Profit should not supersede good democratic processes and truly understanding the effects of gambling harm.”

In summary, The Salvation Army wants to highlight:

The unfair timeframe for written and oral submissions to this Bill (3 working days);
The Government’s own Standing Orders state the ‘normal’ period for submissions is a minimum of 6 weeks for submissions;
The Department of Internal Affairs states that the tight timeframe has meant drawbacks in the analysis, particularly regarding the costs and financial implications of the Bill, and that the specific package of reforms proposed in this Bill has not been directly consulted on. 

Racing has several major problems and action is needed to address them.

But that doesn’t justify fast track legislation with just a five day window to make submissions that closed yesterday, the day after a long weekend, especially when Treasury raises questions about whether the proposed changes will revitalise the industry.

 


Rural round-up

February 4, 2019

Running Dry – Can NZ thrive without irrigation? – Eric Frykberg:

The government has pulled its backing for big irrigation projects, but smaller ones are still getting financial support. For Insight rural reporter, Eric Frykberg explores whether this middle path will be enough to keep farmers and growers in business and improve the quality of water in streams and rivers?

Stu Wright’s family is part of the fabric of Selwyn district, inland from Christchurch. They’ve worked the land near Sheffield for 125 years.  

The murky drizzle hanging over the furrows of his farm in the foothills of the Southern Alps, near Sheffield are at odds with his on-going struggle to keep his crops well hydrated.

Here he grows seed potatoes, garlic, radishes and rye.

But the way his family have farmed for over a century is no longer working. . . 

Virus has mixed results – Neal Wallace:

The new rabbit-killing K5 haemorrhagic virus has achieved an average kill rate of 47% of rabbits in Otago but rates on individual farms vary from very low to 80%, leading to farmer scepticism about its effectiveness.

Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead says while the 47% average is higher than forecast in the import application for the RHDV K5 virus, high immunity levels in parts of the province reduced its effectiveness.

Otago Federated Farmers president Simon Davies has had reports from farmers saying they have not seen any evidence the new strain is working. . . 

 

Woolhandler aiming to go ‘all out’ at champs – Richard Davison:

A Milton woolhandler plans to go “all out” for honours in the Otago champs.

The two-day Otago Shearing and Woolhandling Championships are taking place in Balclutha on February 8 and 9, and competitors will be vying for both podium places on the day and cumulative points towards circuit titles – and ultimately a better shot at nationals.

For Milton woolhandler Cheri Peterson, who started in the shed professionally in 2007 aged 21, this season’s circuit began as simply another opportunity to hone her skills at the table, but has acquired a sharper competitive edge as it progresses. . . 

 

Eight southern tracks to go in NZTR plan – Steve Hepburn:

Gore may get a reprieve but even more galloping courses may be under threat.

Following on from last year’s Messara report, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing produced a report yesterday calling for the reduction of courses around the country. And it is looking to close more courses than Australian John Messara proposed, with Waikouaiti and Riverton fingered for closure among 23 venues.

NZTR said in a release it wanted to drop to 27 venues across the country by 2030. The would leave just nine tracks in the South Island. Eight tracks south of Timaru would close.

The plan was not in reaction to the Government-commissioned Messara report, which proposed a widespread reduction in tracks throughout the country, NZTR said. . . 

New Zealand 2019 apple and pear crop forecast released :

The New Zealand apple and pear industry is forecasting a modest increase in the gross crop for 2019, according to the annual crop estimate just released. A forecast gross crop of 604,500 metric tonnes is 2.5% up on 2018 production.

New Zealand Apples & Pears Chief Executive, Alan Pollard, says that “Notwithstanding some hail in Central Otago, growing conditions across the rest of New Zealand this season have been very good. Adequate rainfall means that all regions have good quantities of irrigation water, and sunlight and warmth are at some of the best levels that we have seen”. . .

U.S. Dairy Farmers Say Billions of Exports at Risk – Lydia Mulvany:

The U.S. dairy industry stands to lose billions of dollars over the next two decades if trade agreements with Japan, one of the biggest buyers, don’t materialize, according to a U.S. Dairy Export Council report released Wednesday.

The Japanese are gobbling up more cheesy pizzas and proteins like whey, at the same time that its own dairy industry is seeing a decline. Exporters are aggressively competing to supply that growing demand, and the European Union has a leg up on the U.S. due to a trade agreement that went into affect at the end of last year. Other major exporting countries are set to benefit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a pact from which the U.S. withdrew. . . 

 


It’s not just about the racing

January 7, 2019

“tis the season for country races and they’ve been well attended.

The Omakau gallops attracted more than 1,000 people but this and other country race days are under threat.

It might have been the last one, “if Winston has his way”.

But the Central Otago Racing Club would keep fighting hard to keep its annual Omakau gallops race meet, club president Tony Lepper said at the races yesterday.

The Central Otago club was one of those earmarked for closure in last year’s report from Australian administrator John Messara, who recommended seven tracks from Timaru south should stop holding thoroughbred race meetings.

But Mr Lepper said the Omakau gallops organisers were confident the meet would continue.

“It could be our last meeting, if Winston [Racing Minister Winston Peters] has his way, but I don’t think it will be … We’re planning on racing next year. The minister may have different ideas, but we’re planning on carrying on.”

Mr Lepper said the Central Otago club had made a submission on the Messara report and a working group charged with analysing all the submissions was expected to report back to Mr Peters in February or March, about the same time as the 2020 racing calendar was set.

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing would then decide which clubs would close, based on advice from Mr Peters and the working group, Mr Lepper said.

But Mr Lepper said country racing was vital to Central Otago and the broader racing community.

“It would be stupid to get rid of this meeting.

“This is where people are in the summer, they come up to Central . . . But more importantly, a lot of locals are involved in owning horses, and for a lot of people coming to the races in Central is their one and only experience at the races . . .

“This is where people get their love of racing, and that’s why country racing is important.

“As long as the trainers are prepared to come up here with their horses and we’re prepared to do our voluntary work to prepare the track, then this [race meet] should always continue into the future.” . . 

We were among the crowd of about 5,000 at the Kurow races a week ago and people there had the same strong feelings about the importance of the fixture for the racing and the community.

As  Kurow Jockey Club president Simon Williamson said.

. . .”It’s the biggest day in the Waitaki Valley,” he said. ”It’s a community day. And a lot of the people here aren’t racegoers, they’re holidaymakers camping around the lake having their annual day out, really.

”It’s huge – it’s for the community, it’s a get-together … everyone comes out and talks to their neighbours and their friends. It’s a great family get-together; there’s never any trouble; everyone brings their barbecues and their chilly bins.” . . 

Country race days aren’t just about the racing. They are social events which bring the community together and attract outsiders too.

Whatever the Messara report says, country people won’t let their race days go without a fight and the Minister who purports to be the region’s champion should take that seriously.

Throwing money around in the name of provincial growth will look even stupider he’s going to let his government kill off events that are such an important part of the social and economic fabric of rural communities.


Is this what they voted for?

September 3, 2018

Do I remember correctly Winston Peters criticising expensive dinners as political party fundraisers? That was then, this is now:

. . . In May, we reported that NZ First’s donors and supporters in the thoroughbred and bloodstock industry expected him to deliver their wish-list: an all-weather track, tax breaks for breeding, restructuring the NZ Racing Board and potentially outsourcing some TAB services to an Australian provider.

And so we come to Wednesday night, where the Deputy Prime Minister and NZ First leader gathered together three of his senior MPs and and about 80 business leaders to start with pan-tossed prawn tails and cognac liver pate and finish with his plans in government.

At $600 a head, these guests were not paying for their dinner. With respect to the head chef at the Tauranga Club, no Bay of Plenty restaurant charges that for dinner. They were paying for access to Peters and offering their financial support to his party to deliver on their wishlist.

Many were from the world of breeding and racing. . .

The following evening at Claudelands Events Centre in Hamilton, Peters unveiled the proposed restructuring: slashing the numbers of small courses from 48 to 28, outsourcing the TAB to an Australian betting agency, replacing the Racing Board with administrative bodies controlled by the thoroughbreds industry, and the locations of the three synthetic race tracks at Riccarton, Awapuni and Cambridge. 

Some of this, like cutting back the number of race courses, is sad but sensible policy.

But some initiatives – the all-weather race courses – have bypassed proper Budget approval. 

And Treasury and Inland Revenue papers published this week conclude that tax breaks for “good-looking horses” will do New Zealand no good whatsoever. “Neither tax concessions nor subsidies seem justified,” they warn.

The only people who benefit from Peters’ tax breaks, estimated by Inland Revenue to cost NZ up to $40 million in lost revenue, are those who trade in horseflesh. . . 

A friend who owns a share in a race horse got a letter before last year’s election asking him to vote for New Zealand First and contribute to racing’s contribution to the party’s campaign.

He did neither.

Some who did will be pleased with what they’re getting in return. Others who supported the party in one way or another won’t be.

For years Winston Peters has spoken out against overseas ownership and the centralisation of businesses to the detriment of smaller centres.

How will those who agreed with and voted for him feel about the probability the TAB will be sold to Australia and the closure of small town race tracks? Is this what they voted for?

Closing small schools has caused big political fallout.  Shutting the gates on local race tracks won’t happen without a fight and locals might hold some cards that racing bigwigs haven’t counted.

Some race tracks are owned locally by trusts. The trustees will have to agree to any sales and even if the tracks are sold the proceeds will have to stay in the community, they won’t be able to go to racing HQ.

 


Rural round-up

May 1, 2015

 

2015 Employee Remuneration survey shows farming salaries holding firm in spite of tough conditions:

Federated Farmers and Rabobank’s 2015 employee remuneration report shows farm employee remuneration is rising despite tough industry conditions.

Salaries across the industry groups generally were equal at entry level, though some dairy farming employees, such as dairy farm managers, had higher salaries compared with their sheep and beef counterparts.

Federated Farmers Dairy Industry Group Chair, Andrew Hoggard, said it had been a fairly unfavourable year for farming all round, especially in the dairy industry, with returns down 40 per cent. . .

 Farmers back a pioneering environmental restoration project:

Hawke’s Bay farmers are getting in behind a New Zealand first environmental restoration project, which has just been launched in Napier.

The Cape to City project is a world-leading programme, which will aim to achieve a predator free Hawke’s Bay. It will focus on ultra low-cost, large-scale predator control across 26,000 ha of farmland between Waimarama and Havelock North with the aim to restore native species and plants and add value for farm businesses.

The project represents a significant investment over five years for both Cape to City, and sister project Poutiri Ao ō Tāne, of more than $6 million and is a collaborative partnership between Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, the Department of Conservation, Landcare Research, Cape Sanctuary and the Aotearoa Foundation as well as private business and other Crown Research Institutes. . .

Sustainable textile company The Formary to represent New Zealand at the World Exposition 2015:

Launching world–first Mibu® yarn blended from wool and rice straw.

“Transforming industrial and agricultural waste into beautiful fabrics” is the mantra of New Zealand company The Formary.

Back in 2010, they made global headlines when they collaborated with Starbucks and developed WoJo®, an award–winning fabric combining New Zealand wool with coffee sack waste fibre.

On May 1st they launch their latest innovation, Mibu yarn, on the biggest stage on the planet: the World Exposition 2015 in Milan. . .

Timaru farmers claims barley world record for New Zealand:

The Exclusive Grain Group has confirmed Timaru farmers Warren and Joy Darling are now the Guinness World Records® (GWR) holders for the highest barley yield. The world record attempt took place on Friday 23 January 2015 and was ratified by GWR on Wednesday 15 April 2015 with a yield of 13.8 metric tonnes per hectare with the Blackman Agriculture bred variety 776.

With the barley world record unbroken for 25 years, the three month verification wait from GWR was long and stressful. “There was absolutely no doubt that we had achieved the 13.8 metric tonnes of yield and we had followed the GWR protocol independently assessed by SGS here in New Zealand,” said Warren Darling. “It was like being back in school knowing you had done really well on a test but until you receive the final mark, it is an anxious time,”
he commented. . .

barley

 

 

 

Smart ties with India:

Lincoln University has strengthened its ties with business in India after signing Memoranda of Understanding with ETI Dynamics and JCurve Ventures which emphasise the development ‘smart cities’.

The agreements come after a recent visit by an Indian trade delegation to the University, which was hosted by Vice-Chancellor Dr Andrew West, Deputy Vice-Chancellor International and Business Development Jeremy Baker, and Peter Barrowclough, Chief Executive Officer of Lincoln Agritech Ltd, a 100 per cent owned subsidiary of Lincoln University. . .

Find Your Next Success at NZB’s Upcoming Sale:

A prosperous season among New Zealand’s juvenile ranks has brought New Zealand Bloodstock’s National Weanling, Broodmare & Mixed Bloodstock to the fore ready for the next crop of youngsters to be sold at the upcoming Sale in May.

This year’s $1m Karaka Million winner Hardline (NZ (Showcasing) is a star graduate of the 2013 National Weanling Sale. Purchased by Hallmark Stud for $43,000 from Haunui Stud’s draft, Hardline returned at the 2014 Karaka Select Sale where Australian trainer Liam Birchley secured him for $130,000. . .

 


Rural round-up

January 31, 2015

Rabobank Agribusiness Outlook 2015

The 2015 Agribusiness Outlook shares Rabobank’s view for New Zealand agriculture in 2015. It includes four key swing factors that will be critical in shaping the outlook for 2015, addresses the significant price drivers for agricultural commodities and outlines the sectoral trends and developments that will be important to watch in 2015.

Key highlights

Outlook 2015

• Dairy – Lower global milk supply and demand gradually improving should be enough underpin a modest price recovery in 2015

• Beef – Much tighter supply from Australia, combined with strong demand from the US, will support historically high farmgate and export prices in 2015 . . .

 Tri-Lamb Group working to put lamb on the menu in the US:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is working together with its sheep farming counterparts from the US and Australia to get Americans eating more lamb.

B+LNZ’s Central South Island Director Anne Munro has just been at the annual Tri-Lamb Group conference in Nevada with B+LNZ’s North America Manager Terry Meikle and Federated Farmers’Meat & Fibre Industry Group Chairperson Rick Powdrell. Representatives from the Sheepmeat Council of Australia (SCA) and the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) also took part.

The Tri-Lamb Group was established in 2004 to grow demand for sheepmeat in the US, mainly by increasing consumers’ awareness of lamb’s nutritional value. . .  

 Planting a winner – how to protect farm waterways:

How to get the best results from planting waterways and avoid the common pitfalls will be the focus of a DairyNZ and Tatua field day on February 13 at the Tatua farm in Tatuanui.

Representatives from DairyNZ, Tatua and Waikato Regional Council will be answering farmers’ questions and providing advice on how to successfully plant farm waterways.

As part of the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord, all dairy farms must have stock excluded from waterways by 31 May 2017, and a planting plan for stream banks by 2020. The accord covers all dairy farms and is supported by all dairy companies across the country.

DairyNZ water quality scientist, Tom Stephens, who will be talking at the field day, says the focus will be on helping to ensure farmers get value for money from their planting while making the most of the environmental benefits. . .

 

Farming clean streams:

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has launched a specialist team to help farmers navigate increasingly complex environmental regulations and consent requirements to promote clean green land, rivers and streams.

Alastair Taylor, the new Business Extension Services Manager at Ballance Agri-Nutrients said national programmes such as the Sustainable Dairying Water Accord are putting increased pressure on farmers to manage the nutrients within the farmgate.

“Farmers need to navigate through regulations around effluent management, nutrient use and environmental performance. Our new team will provide a direct link between farmers and regional councils to take the hassle out of environmental compliance. . .

 

Right diet helps cows keep their cool:

Choosing the right supplementary feed can help farmers turn down the heat in their cows’ digestive systems as hot, humid summer conditions increase the risk of heat stress in herds.

Science Extension Officer for animal nutrition company SealesWinslow, Sarah Morgan, says all cows generate heat when they digest feed, but feeds requiring less energy to digest will also result in less heat generated and more comfortable cows as the average daytime temperatures stay high.

“Fibre produces more heat in the rumen than other carbohydrate feed sources. Feeds that have high oil content also require more energy to digest and reduce the efficiency of nutrient metabolism. Low fibre feed sources usually result in less heat from digestion than feeds that are higher in fibre.” . .

 

Strong Interest in New Zealand Bloodstock at Karaka Sales:

This week’s Karaka bloodstock sales can expect to see a nice swing to top-end colts that will eventually make their mark in the stud market, says Geoff Roan, Bloodstock Client Manager for Crowe Horwath.

“In part this reflects the influences of the changes six years ago to the Income Tax Act, which accelerated write-downs on colts,” he said.

The market was also feeling the impact of the recent amendment to the Goods and Services Tax Act, allowing overseas entities to register for GST if they are registered in their own foreign territory and don’t have a taxable activity in New Zealand. . .

 


Rural round-up

January 27, 2015

Race to control Canterbury fire – Thomas Mead:

Rural fire crews are considering all possible options as a massive scrub fire burns through a high-country station in Canterbury and temperatures creep up.

Three planes, six helicopters and around 20 firefighters are battling a raging blaze on the hillside at Flock Hill Station, near State Highway 73 and on the way to Arthur’s Pass.

The fire started around 2:30pm yesterday and grew from 10 hectares to 333 hectares overnight, burning through a thick growth of wilding pine, manuka scrub and tussock. The area is equivalent to around 300 rugby fields or three-quarters of the Auckland Central Business District. . .

If farmers hurt, the nation hurts – Bryan Gibson:

Last week, while navigating the cat pictures and uplifting life affirmations of Facebook, I came across a post about the drought-like conditions. The writer stated there seemed to be a fair number of farmers complaining about the weather in the media.

His reasoned the weather was simply a factor of farming business and so farmers should just live with whatever rain or shine the heavens provided.

I sense this is a common belief of many people not associated with farming. . .

McCook hangs up his pest sword – Richard Rennie:

The nemesis for millions of possums is stepping down from his post as king of eradication but his furred foe can be assured there will be little respite on his departure.

OSPRI chief executive William McCook is leaving his post after 12 years heading OSPRI since 2013 and its predecessor the Animal Health Board (AHB). He has decided it’s time for something new but wants to keep his links with the primary sector. . .

Sheep and vineyards a winning combination  – Sally Rae:

Timbo Deaker and Jason Thomson might know a thing or two about grapes but they admit they are ”totally green” when it comes to sheep.

So it comes as something of a surprise that the pair, who operate Viticultura, a Central Otago-based business that manages vineyards and provides brokerage, consultancy and contracting services, supply lambs to Alliance Group.

Historically, they have given winter grazing to local farmers, but for the past two years they have bought their own sheep to fatten beneath the vines. . .

Golden run for NZ shearing legend:

New Zealand shearing legend David Fagan is on a winning streak in what might be his final season on the competition shearing circuit.

He won the Geyserland Shears Open Final at the Rotorua A&P Show during the weekend – the twelfth time he had won that particular event. . .

Equine industry joins GIA biosecurity agreement:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed a fourth primary industry to the GIA partnership today.

The New Zealand Equine Health Association has signed the Deed of the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) for Biosecurity Readiness and Response at the Karaka yearling sales today.

“This means the horse racing, recreational and breeding industry and the Ministry for Primary Industries can work together to manage and respond to the most important biosecurity risks. . .

Double delight for Cambridge Stud early on Day One at Karaka:

The undoubted quality of the famous Cambridge Stud bloodlines were to the fore again at Karaka as the Stud enjoyed a high-priced double strike during the early stages of this year’s premier session at the New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling sale series.

The Cambridge draft provided Lot 36, a bay filly from the first crop of resident stallion Cape Blanco out of the Danehill mare Love Diamonds. The mare is a daughter of blueblood producer Tristalove with this filly’s extended pedigree on the catalogue page reading like a who’s who of Australasian racing. . .

 

Doors open at Rabobank Dargaville

Rabobank will open its newest office in New Zealand next Monday February 2, 2015 located in the Northland township of Dargaville.

Nestled in the heart of Dargaville, the new Rabobank branch will be located at 92 Normanby Street.

Rabobank Northland branch manager Tessa Sutherland said the office is convenient and centrally-located, allowing for clients to easily access the branch.

“It has been a vision for quite some time now and we are thrilled to be opening our new branch in Dargaville next week, starting off 2015 with a bang,” Ms Sutherland said. . .

 


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