THE Queensland Government has demolished long-established bureaucratic barriers to enable Australia's first quarter horse racing industry to be established near Imbil.
In granting a new control body license for quarter horse racing at Bollier Park, about 30 minutes from Gympie and five minutes from Imbil, the government has sparked interest in a potential $60 million investment in the Mary Valley to build a world class equestrian facility, Premier Campbell Newman said yesterday.
Announcing the new licence at the Houston Rodeo, Mr Newman said the State Government had also reached a heads of agreement with Australian Quarter Horse Racing Development Pty Ltd to purchase the 1600ha Bollier Park on Tuchekoi Rd.
"The company's development proposal for the Mary Valley includes racing facilities, a hotel, stables for 400 horses, an equestrian school and an associated residential development," Mr Newman said.
"After Labor's destruction of the Mary Valley economy through the failed Traveston dam project, this government wants to generate new economic opportunities and jobs for the region," he said.
"While there are still a number of milestones the company will need to achieve, this proposal has potential to transform the Mary Valley with the creation of a new multi-million dollar industry and up to 145 jobs.
"Texas is the spiritual home of quarter horse racing, so it is fitting to announce the licensing agreement, and start talking about the exciting potential for Australia's first quarter horse racing facility at the Houston Rodeo."
Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Jeff Seeney said the project had potential to put the Mary Valley on the world racing map.
"This announcement demonstrates the potential of the Mary Valley to host new businesses that will continue to rebuild the local economy," Mr Seeney said.
"If it proceeds, this project could create a major tourist destination for the region, attracting thousands of equestrian fans from across the country and the world.
"By simply getting out of the way and reducing the obstacles for this exciting new industry, the government is helping the Mary Valley to bounce back from the dark years under Labor.
"I encourage the fledgling quarter horse racing industry to get behind this proposal and capitalise on the early support shown by the Queensland Government."
Racing Minister Steve Dickson said he had approved Australian Quarter Horse Racing Development Pty Ltd as the control body for quarter horse racing in Queensland, subject to a number of conditions being met.
"This government is about growing the racing industry in Queensland, but in a responsible manner," Mr Dickson said.
"The next step is for the company to submit a business case by August 31, which outlines how they propose to administer quarter horse racing and how they might seek to integrate wagering into Queensland's system.
"The current application is specific to quarter horse racing and does not include racing for other breeds, such as Arabians."