GAMING AND BETTING (RACE-MEETINGS) AMENDMENT BILL
Bill introduced and read a first time.
(Sutherland - Minister for Sport, Recreation and Racing) [5.11]: I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
Unlike all other States and Territories in Australia and many countries overseas, racing on Sundays in New South Wales is currently prohibited under the provisions of the Gaming and Betting Act. Honourable members will recall that during the 1991 budget session of Parliament, the Gaming and Betting Act was amended to allow the staging of race-meetings on eight Sundays during the period 1 January 1992 to 31 December 1993 to enable funding to be raised for Sydney's bid to host the year 2000 Olympic Games. This initiative proved extremely successful and in excess of $8 million was raised towards the costs of Sydney's Olympic bid. As a result of the success of those meetings,
the question of the continuation of Sunday racing on a limited basis has been raised with representatives of the racing industry who have expressed the industry's support for the proposal.
Accordingly, the bill will allow for the conduct of race-meetings on six Sundays each financial year commencing 1 July 1994 and ceasing on 30 June 2001. As occurred with the Sydney 2000 Olympic bid Sunday race-meetings, it is envisaged that the Australian Jockey Club and the Sydney Turf Club will share the Sunday dates, with each club conducting three Sunday race-meetings each year. Other New South Wales race clubs may also apply to conduct meetings on the selected Sundays in conjunction with the metropolitan clubs. It is intended that the Sunday race-meetings will also be programmed in conjunction with interstate fixtures so as to maximise revenue from the meetings. Based on revenue generated by the Olympic bid meetings held in the previous two years, it is expected that each of the Sunday race dates will raise approximately $1 million. Accordingly, it is anticipated that some $6 million per annum will be directed to the Consolidated Fund to enable, subject to the usual parliamentary appropriation process, payments to be made for specific purposes and contingencies which I will outline later.
The bill includes a provision that in the event that an approved Sunday date is unable to be utilised, for example, when programmed race-meetings are cancelled due to inclement weather and an alternative Sunday date cannot be allocated in that same year, the Minister may approve of an additional Sunday date in a following year, thereby ensuring that the date, and in turn revenue, is not lost. The bill also includes a provision that Sunday meetings are to be disregarded for the purposes of limits imposed under the Act on the maximum number of days on which race-meetings may be conducted on a racecourse. This provision simply alleviates the need for the Minister to obtain the Governor's approval to increase race day entitlements to accommodate the Sunday race-meetings. I should stress that the proposal does not represent a complete relaxation of current restrictions on Sunday racing as the proposed legislation limits the number of Sundays to six per financial year and empowers the Minister to determine the dates on which Sunday racing may occur, the clubs which may conduct such meetings and the racecourses on which they may be conducted.
In addition, it is worth noting that most other recreation and leisure pursuits are available on Sundays, as are other avenues of gambling, including poker machines, club keno and the sale of lottery tickets. The new Sydney casino will also be open on Sundays. It is proposed that revenue generated from the first Sunday of racing under the legislation will be allocated to bushfire relief as an agency donation. It is then intended that revenue generated from the remaining Sunday race dates will be utilised towards costs associated with the staging of the year 2000 Paralympic Games, the further development of elite sport in the lead-up to the Sydney 2000 Olympics and as a contribution towards the costs associated with the promotion of the Sydney autumn racing carnival. As honourable members would be aware, Sydney's successful Olympic bid carries with it the responsibility for the conduct of the year 2000 Paralympic Games - a responsibility that this Government has accepted.
Accordingly, the Government will be looking for the costs of this commitment being largely funded from revenue derived from the proposed Sunday race-meetings. Apart from the Government's commitment to both the year 2000 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, it has been identified that there is a need to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of existing high performance sport programs, particularly in the lead-up to the Olympic Games. In this regard, I am currently examining proposals to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of existing elite sport programs by refocusing, repackaging and enhancing these programs under a totally new identity, the New South Wales Institute of Sport. It is also intended that these costs be met from Sunday racing revenue.
The final component of the package involves a proposal I have before me to provide financial assistance towards the promotion of the Sydney autumn racing carnival, which is currently in progress. This initiative is a joint venture involving the five metropolitan race clubs of the three racing codes which have joined together to collectively market their high profile autumn races. Given the support shown by the public for the Sydney Olympic bid Sunday race-meetings, the Government is confident that this latest proposal will be equally successful. I commend the bill.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Rumble.
Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Rixon):
Order! It being after 5.15 p.m., pursuant to sessional orders business is interrupted.