Is the light finally appearing at the end of the tunnel?
Last week’s announcement that John Messara would be reviewing the New Zealand industry’s governance structures before providing recommendations for its future direction had many industry stalwarts celebrating.
Messara, based on his efforts with Racing NSW and Racing Australia, is seen as New Zealand racing’s potential messiah. He has certainly shown himself to be incredibly astute in the operation of Arrowfield Stud, having employed several talented Kiwis!
While he is familiar with our industry he also lacks the parochialism which seems to stymie any local attempts to drive the industry forward. What will be interesting is how Messara will consider the needs of three conflicting codes. That is something which proved a bridge too far for previous chairmen of the NZRB who, for every financial contribution to one code, were then faced with the other two, hands out and demanding the same amount!
According to the Racing Minister, Winston Peters, Messara’s review – which is expected to be presented to government by the middle of the year – will “also assist the government in determining if the current Racing Act 2003 and the proposed Racing Amendment Bill are fit for purpose.”
The 2003 Act gave us the poorly written Section 16, the cause of much gnashing of teeth at the absolute absurdity of it all. For the benefit of those who have never actually read Section 16 it states as follows:
Amounts of distributions to codes
The Board must, as soon as practicable following the end of a racing year, determine the amount to be distributed among the racing codes for that year from any surpluses referred to in sections 53(2) and 57(2), or any other source whether capital or income.
Unless a majority of the racing codes otherwise agrees in writing, the amount referred to in subsection (1) must be not less than the total of the surpluses referred to in sections 53(2) and 57(2) for that racing year less the total amount credited to reserves for that year from those surpluses.
Unless a majority of the racing codes otherwise agrees in writing, the amount referred to in subsection (1) must be distributed among the racing codes in the same proportions that the Board considers are the proportions to which the codes contributed to the New Zealand turnover of the Board for that racing year.
In subsection (3), New Zealand turnover of the Board means the total gross amount received by the Board from racing betting placed in New Zealand on races run in New Zealand.
While on the subject of the Racing Act, Section 16 and the like, I have often been astounded at the number of people who work within the industry yet have no idea of the responsibilities of the various bodies.
The NZ Thoroughbred Breeders’ has come to the party with a fabulously simple explanation in their latest Bulletin, so big ups to them for the following:
Anyone who is a little confused about who does what when it comes to the Minister, NZ Thoroughbred Racing or the NZ Racing Board should check it out.
While their explanation included Section 8 (c) “The objectives of the Board are – to maximise its profits for the long-term benefit of New Zealand racing” I probably would have hammered the point home a little more by including Section 9 (a) which reads as follows:
Functions of Board
The functions of the Board are—
to develop policies that are conducive to the overall economic development of the racing industry, and the economic well-being of people who, and organisations which, derive their livelihoods from racing:
If John Messara can deliver us a blueprint for policies which can do that then he may very well be remembered as New Zealand racing’s messiah.