Sport

Racing Queensland controversy

Barry Fitzhenry speaks his mind about cuts to country racing.
Barry Fitzhenry speaks his mind about cuts to country racing. Contributed

THE State Government announced its $21 million Queensland Country Racing Support Program on Thursday, which the Opposition quickly followed up with a counter attack.

The Opposition released its own statement, accusing the government of stripping money from country race clubs.

"The Palaszczuk Labor Government has continued its attack on the racing industry announcing unfair and unnecessary funding cuts to race meetings and reduced prize money across the board," the Opposition said.

Gympie racing identities Barry Fitzhenry and Gympie Turf Club president Shane Gill responded to the news cautiously and expressed doubt.

The pair said the effect of the reduction in the number of meetings on Gympie was not yet clear.

Gympie holds race meetings eight times a year and both men say some reduction in this number could be expected.

They guessed the cuts could be, at worst, five meetings but that was yet to be revealed.

Minister for Sport and Racing Bill Byrne announced the State Government would provide $13 million in funding to compensate country clubs for Racing Queensland's loss of funding.

There will be $4 million per year for two years from July 1 next year and this will then drop to $3 million in the third year and $2 million in the fourth.

The plan states prize money will reduce to $5500 per race from April 1 next year.

There appears to be confusion about the compensation plan in terms of how clubs may use the money.

A further $8 million is to be made available to clubs to adjust to the new funding regime.

Gill said he would find it "very interesting" to see how the money would be spent across country areas.

"If they are true to their word and it goes to country racing, that will make a huge difference," he said.

"It will be a huge boost to the economy of country racing from the community right through to country trainers."

The racing minister said the government's country racing package would give regional clubs time to adjust to the reduced level of funding from Racing Queensland.

Topics:  racing queensland

Gympie Times