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WA TAB sale must strengthen country racing

The Nationals WA will not support the McGowan Government’s sale of the WA TAB without a demonstrated and preserved benefit for regional race clubs and participants.

Racing and gaming spokesperson Colin Holt undertook years of consultation and groundwork on the sale process as a former Minister in the Liberal-National Government and said he was pleased to see the matter progress.

“The Nationals will only support the sale of the WA TAB if it is on the industry’s terms and strengthens country racing across the State,” Mr Holt said.

“I fear Labor views this transaction as a revenue raising exercise instead of an opportunity to enrich the livelihoods of thousands of people across regional WA involved in the racing industry.   

“I will need to see the finer details relating to the conditions of the sale before committing support to the package.

“I will be working closely with the industry, particularly regional clubs and participants, to ensure their best interests are served in any potential sale.”

Mr Holt said the WA racing industry had an infrastructure backlog in excess of $150 million which the sale terms must address.

“At this stage the Minister has said 35 per cent of the sale proceeds will be set aside for a dedicated racing infrastructure fund,” Mr Holt said. 

“Until an offer is on the table we don’t know what 35 per cent is.

“If it’s not at least $150 million the industry is getting short-changed. Country race clubs in particular are suffering from dated facilities.”

Addressing Labor’s announcement of legislation detailing a new point of consumption (POC) tax, Mr Holt said the entire tax take should be returned to WA’s racing sector – not just 30 per cent as flagged by the Government. 

“The POC tax was always touted as a mechanism to ensure corporate bookmakers pay their fair share to the WA industry,” Mr Holt said.

“What the Government is now saying, though, is they’re only going to return 30 per cent of that tax back to the industry.

“This is purely compensation for what the tax will cost Racing and Wagering Western Australia, not a fillip for the industry as touted by the Minister.

“The bottom line is this is industry money – 70 per cent of which will now flow elsewhere including, dare I say it, a healthy percentage to Labor’s election commitments.”