The McGowan Government must shed the financial blinkers and ensure Western Australia’s racing industry emerges from the sale of the TAB entrenched in the winner’s circle.
The Nationals racing spokesperson Colin Holt said he was increasingly concerned the privatisation of the TAB was being hijacked by Treasury, with the ongoing viability of the racing industry a mere afterthought.
“I want to know who is running this process – the Treasurer or the Racing and Gaming Minister,” Mr Holt said.
“The Treasurer appears to be leading the charge as he desperately tries to plug holes in a budget groaning under the weight of Labor’s Perth-based election promises.
“Racing Minister Paul Papalia has so far proven to have a tin ear when it comes to concern around the structure, governance and sustainability of the racing industry.
“Mr Papalia needs to push back against the Treasurer and do his job. He needs to be the person at the Cabinet table fighting for the interests of the racing industry, not just someone happy to flog Quokka selfies.”
Mr Holt, a former Racing Minister in the Liberal-National Government, said it would be impossible to “unscramble the egg” if Labor blew the chance to broker a good deal for the racing industry.
“Nothing a WA Government does in the next 50 years will have more impact on the future of racing in our State as the decision to sell the TAB and the parameters set around that sale,” Mr Holt said.
“The rhetoric from the Government is constantly shifting – the Minister now says the industry should be left ‘no worse off’ from a sale. That’s a cop out. No worse off needs to be unequivocally better off.
“The industry must emerge from the sale of the TAB in a stronger position and the transaction must send a clear signal to the thousands of West Australians who work and invest in the industry.”
Mr Holt said The Nationals would not support the sale without allocation of significant funds to address the huge infrastructure backlog which is crippling the growth of regional race clubs.
“We are of the view that the TAB is an industry asset and the vast majority – if not all – of the proceeds from a sale must be returned to the industry,” he said.
Mr Holt also raised concerns about Racing and Wagering Western Australia’s role at the bargaining table.
“The Minister needs to ensure he is receiving and acting upon independent advice,” Mr Holt said.
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