Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 3 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 697..
MR QUINLAN: I thank Mr Hargreaves for the opportunity to inform the house of where we are up to in relation to this. The last piece of news I think members might have seen is that the New South Wales Thoroughbred Racing Board is reported to have moved to expel the ACT Racing Club and the Northern Territory Racing Club from membership of the Australian Racing Board. Some members may be aware that the ACT has been a member of the Australian Racing Board, and has had principal club status, for only eight or so months.
The impact of this initiative will not exactly kill ACT racing but it certainly will not help. The ACT is integrated into New South Wales. A prime example of this is last week's Black Opal Stakes, where New South Wales changed its Saturday meeting to a twilight meeting so that the Canberra race meeting, which I have to say was a very good day of racing, could be one of the feature New South Wales meetings of the weekend.
New South Wales racing authorities intend to cut the feed of the bookmaker pricing service to the ACT and this represents considerable risk to local bookmakers, who may be exposed, among other things, to plunges that they do not know about. Quite obviously they will be behind the game in terms of setting their books. This certainly will have a negative impact.
There are media reports that Sky Channel intends to withdraw its services from the ACT. That does not mean you will not be able to watch Sky Channel in the ACT. What it does mean is that, on the one hand, they will probably not broadcast any ACT races and, on the other, they will not allow the race club, once the contract comes up for renewal-and I think it is due soon-to broadcast Sky Channel at the race track, which again would have a very deleterious effect upon the ACT Racing Club.
I have tried to set up meetings with the New South Wales Minister for Racing and Gaming, Mr Richard Face. I have written to Mr Face explaining our position and saying that we accept some of the legitimacy of the position that New South Wales has taken. They are concerned that the ACT does have sports bookmakers, who do not take a lot at this stage but who probably represent a potential danger to the operation of TABs in the longer term.
I have written to the chairman of the Australian Racing Board prior to their meeting advising him that the incoming government would wish to try to fix this problem in a sensible manner and not via media or via threat. I have to say from the knowledge I have picked up so far that the licensing of corporate bookmakers in the ACT is something of a dog's breakfast. I will be trying to work through the licences, the franchises that were given, the contracts that we have in place, to hopefully find a solution from the ACT perspective in order to be able to negotiate sensibly with New South Wales.
The New South Wales TAB and Sky Channel representatives have sought meetings with me and we had settled on a meeting date of next week, I think. This was in my diary and I was wondering for a while what it was all about. I have to say it was disturbing that I found what it was about via the Sydney Daily Telegraph. But I also discovered that the same people who want to meet with me met with the previous government three years ago.