The ACT Greens do not want the ACT Government to renew its almost $40m subsidy to the horse racing industry.
“The ACT Government is currently negotiating to re-sign an MOU that will likely provide at least $7.5m each year for five years to the horse racing industry,” said ACT Greens Animal Welfare spokesperson Jo Clay.
“The ACT Greens do not support public funding of the horse racing industry. We have met with and written to our ACT Labor colleagues. We’ve asked to phase out this funding deal and develop a transition plan to support workers in the industry.
“To put that funding in context – this year the ACT Government will provide $2.6m in yearly funding to the Canberra Raiders, $1.78M in yearly funding to the Brumbies and $1.6m over four years to the Canberra Capitals and Canberra United.
“I think the community would agree that $7.5m per year to the horseracing industry without any public grant or procurement process is not a good use of public taxpayer funds.
“This is a really large sum of money at a time when we are dealing with climate change, homelessness and COVID. A budget is about priorities, and I don’t understand how this can add up to almost $40 million of priority.
“With median house prices at $1m, imagine how many public housing homes we could buy. Or we could invest it into the Sustainable Household Scheme to help more Canberrans fight climate change, save money and improve their indoor air quality to get off gas. It could be used to help more people put solar panels on their rooftops.
“These measures all deal with major social problems like homelessness and climate change. They would give immediate relief to Canberrans who need help right now and invest in Canberra’s infrastructure and our future. This is the only responsible way to spend public money when we are dealing with such major crises.
“In a 2011 report, the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission recommended that in the long term, the horseracing industry should be self-sufficient. That Commission said that if Government wanted to provide some short-term funding certainty, they might do so under an MOU for up to 10 years. That was 11 years ago.
“Thoroughbred Park asked all three major parties whether they’d renew funding before the last election. ACT Labor said they’d maintain funding. The Canberra Liberals said they’d increase funding. Only the Greens said we would need to review it given the public health emergency and other priorities. We think it’s important to be careful with public funding and allocate it in an open and transparent way that’s in line with the priorities of Canberrans.
“The Thoroughbred Park Annual Report states that last year they received ACT Government funding of $6.6m and paid out $6.1m in prize money. This looks an awful lot like the ACT Government and the Canberra taxpayer are publicly funding horse racing prize money. And they are doing so in a process that is not based on a grant or public procurement.”