COMMENT:

Last Tuesday's editorial in the Herald on the racing industry in New Zealand lacked balance. The article stated racing shouldn't rely on the government for support but must "stand on its own four legs". Is this for real? Does this editor/journalist live on the same planet as I do?

Don't you think the writer should have explained to readers the hundreds of millions of dollars the racing and breeding industry has paid governments of the day in tax over the past 10 years? Wouldn't that have put at least some balance into the story?

Should the writer not have mentioned the 30,000 people employed in our industry? Think just how much PAYE tax the Government collects from this —​ not forgetting all the GST, ACC levies (which are exorbitant) etc.

Advertisement

Did the writer mention the export dollars our industry generates at the yearling sales? In addition to all the private overseas sales of bloodstock?

Did this writer think to mention the number of people who come to New Zealand from overseas for the yearling sales at Karaka —​ at a time of the year when Auckland is away on holiday and the eateries, hotels etc are empty? All of these visitors put a smile on the face of cab drivers, restaurateurs, airlines, hoteliers ...

Did the writer criticise the Government for gifting the Rugby Union some $38 million for the Rugby World Cup? No. Did the writer criticise the Government for gifting NZ Cricket around $24m for the Cricket World Cup? No. Perhaps the writer criticised the Government for the millions and millions gifted to various America's Cup campaigns? No.

What about a criticism of the Government for tiding the America's Cup team over with a transitional $5m to give them some help? —​ No.

Did the writer remember that the Government gave the Michael Hill golf tournament around $3m? And speaking of golf, funding for Lydia Ko.

I could go on and on but before I continue, I want to add that I think the above contributions were a good use of taxpayer money to promote New Zealand. However, to deny our industry, which does so much in terms of taxation and export revenue for government coffers is blatantly wrong.

The New Zealand Herald needs to ask itself one question, does this great country actually want a racing and breeding industry?

If the answer is "yes" then the Government has to stop the TAKE, TAKE, TAKE and contribute something back and encourage racing to double its export earnings and to go from employing 30,000 to 50,000.

The New Zealand thoroughbred has a stellar worldwide reputation and our horses punch well above their weight on the world stage. Why on earth would we not want to see that reputation grow and flourish in the interests of this country as a whole —​ remember the industry employs young people —​ and many others —​ vets and their staff, farriers and theirs, physios, chiropractors, equine dentists, saddlery makers, equine pharmacists —​ it is a massive industry that is a huge contributor to this country's economy.

I take my hat off to Winston Peters —​ the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Racing understands that without some assistance from government, the Government and Treasury will be the losers and we will finish up being a third-world racing jurisdiction.

What a difference the all-weather tracks will make. In the Waikato we receive about 55 inches of rain a year, with probably 70 per cent of that coming in June through to September. The cost of having grass tracks for this period is huge. Just last week the trials for Saturday were cancelled, the races in Friday were cancelled. What is this costing owners, trainers, jockeys —​ the industry and the Government? A LOT OF MONEY.

Not everything in the latest Messara Report might be able to be implemented but I strongly support 90 per cent of it. This is a unique opportunity —​ if the industry doesn't seize it, our future is very bleak.

With this support —​ the industry will more than "stand on its own four legs" as the editor suggested it should, it will run on them.

David Ellis is Principal of Te Akau Stud.