Racing Queensland snub turf club and dogs... again
IPSWICH isn't on the map when it comes to Racing Queensland.
But the new racing body will be hearing from Ipswich.
Ipswich Turf Club general manager Brett Kitching, Racing Minister Grace Grace and Ipswich MP Jennifer Howard moved into action yesterday after being advised Racing Queensland had instituted three advisory panels for thoroughbreds, greyhounds and harness racing with one glaring oversight.
Ipswich is the ugly duckling with no representatives.
"There are 11 people on each of the harness and greyhound panels, and 19 on the thoroughbreds, but not a single person from Ipswich on them," Mr Kitching said.
"It is outrageous.
"We haven't been consulted or advised about the process in any form so it was a complete surprise that they'd even come up with these panels.
"The Minister didn't even know about it. We rang her office when it was announced and that was the first they'd heard of it.
"There is no-one on (the panel) that knows anything about a mid-week club.
"We had 50 race meetings last year and 47 of them were mid-week which have a unique set of conditions and parameters.
"And as well as that we still had the biggest race meeting in the whole of Queensland with the Ipswich Cup."
Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Toowoomba and Brisbane thoroughbred clubs all have representation on the advisory panel, but not Ipswich.
Mr Kitching wrote to the CEO of Racing Queensland, Dr Eliot Forbes, yesterday. Dr Forbes has only been in the role several weeks.
The Ipswich club's $14 million infrastructure project - $8 million for the building of a tunnel and relocation of race day and maintenance facilities to the infield and $6 million to relocate Ipswich greyhounds to the inside of the track - is now without a voice where it is most needed.
"It affects our project hugely because this advisory panel will advise on where infrastructure money is spent," Mr Kitching said.
"It is totally parochial and that's why the new government came up with an objective board that was to do the right thing by the industry.
"But now we are the only club in Queensland not to receive a cent out of the infrastructure fund and now we are not involved on the advisory board."
Ms Howard met with Mr Kitching and club chairman Wayne Patch in March this year and wrote to Ms Grace outlining the history of the project - as reported yesterday by the QT - the contribution of the Ipswich Turf Club economically to Queensland and the club's urgent need for infrastructure.
Ms Grace subsequently said she wanted Racing Queensland to make funding for the project a priority.
"I've been lobbied by the local MPs about the proposed redevelopment of Ipswich racecourse, and I want Racing Queensland to assess the proposal as soon as possible," she said yesterday.
"I cannot explain why the redevelopment hasn't been delivered by previous governments and I have asked Racing Queensland to treat it as a matter of priority. The proposal has real merit and it has the potential to deliver genuine benefits to everyone in the local racing industry."
Ms Howard contacted Ms Grace in the past 48 hours and both are set to make finding out the process behind the formation of the panels a priority.
"With three quarters of the greyhounds kennelled in the region we'd like to know why we are not represented on those advisory panels," Ms Howard said.
"The Ipswich Turf Club is the predominant mid-week race club in Queensland and the only mid-week race club in south-east Queensland to not receive funding from the Industry Infrastructure Scheme.
"I have grave concerns about the future of the Ipswich Turf Club if Racing Queensland continues to overlook their extraordinary contribution to the total revenue of the racing industry."
The QT was yet to hear back from Racing Queensland by press time.