One of my favourite family pastimes is going to the races. I enjoy the thrill of the races, the bustling crowds at the tracks, the comradery and the friendly, family atmosphere the day holds. People who attend the races share the passion and I always enjoy the banter and the conversation. It has been our family tradition to attend, and as a young lad, I remember participating in the sack races and other games between the runs.
Something that you may not be aware of is that the industry employs more than 35,000 people in full and part-time roles, plus the plethora of volunteers and not-for-profit organisations that use the facilities or support and help the community. These people are the backbone of the industry, providing the essential service by working with the horses, mucking out stalls and managing the day-to-day operation from dawn till dusk. The industry contributes a massive one per cent of GDP, which is $1.6 billion per annum.
Bearing this in mind, the New Zealand racing industry has been left neglected and under-resourced for a very long time. After years of collecting revenue from the industry, the government has not considered re-investing any part of that revenue into the industry to revitalise it and help it thrive. Because of this, racing is in decline and arguably at the brink of partial collapse.
However, with our new coalition government, NZ First is implementing a 10-point racing plan that will revitalise the industry in a sustainable way to ensure the longevity and success of racing. The current legislation, which has been amended time and time again, needs to be completely overhauled, which is being worked on now. It is an exciting time and an announcement will be forthcoming in the next while. Until then, I hope to see you at Tauranga Races on Thursday, April 26 for Sanpellegrino Raceday.