Opposition leader Bill English is questioning why taxpayers should contribute to a multi-million dollar all-weather track for horse racing, which the Government is considering in its upcoming Budget.
Deputy Prime Minister and Racing Minister Winston Peters announced the prospect of the track during his speech to launch the Karaka yearling sales last night.
"A further priority for this Government is investment in an all-weather race track. This will be subject to this year's government Budget process."
One News reported the track could cost $10 million.
After his speech, Peters said the Government and the industry could share the cost of the track, which could be in Waikato.
"The cancellations of race meetings is costing the industry millions of dollars ... An all-weather track can help by giving us options to hold those meetings.
"Racing should be returning $3 billion to the economy rather than $1.6 billion like it is now ... It employs 42,000 people, a lot of them young people, and Treasury needs to understand it not only has a significant economic impact, but a social impact on New Zealand."
He also raised the issue of tax advantages for owners who buy bloodstock.
English said an all-weather track was a good idea - but who paid for it was an important matter.
"The all-weather track is actually a good idea for the industry. I'm not quite sure why taxpayers need to pay for it, because the industry has large assets of its own."
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern defended government assistance in the industry, saying it was facing rising costs and diminishing returns.
"In areas where we are relative to other international industries, if there comes a disincentive to invest in your domestic industry and more incentive to invest overseas, then you have to look at your competitiveness," she told Newstalk ZB this morning.
"We have looked at that for forestry and the film industry, for instance, and this is an area where it looks like the same thing is happening."
She said the previous tax breaks for the racing industry had deteriorated over time.
"What was originally put in place has eroded, so it is about going back and seeing whether we can make that more workable again."
The coalition agreement between Labour and NZ First includes a commitment to "support New Zealand First's racing policy".
NZ First policy is a 10-point plan including returning a greater proportion of industry taxation to the racing codes.