Lismore Turf Club Events
Mr THOMAS GEORGE (Lismore) [5.59 p.m.]: On Friday 3 October I had the honour of attending the country racing awards at Randwick. I pay tribute to Stan Hayes and his committee, and to the Chief Executive Officer of the Country Racing Council, Brian Judd, for a wonderful night that recognised the contribution made to country racing by race clubs, individuals and organisations. On the night I was honoured that the Simon Niveson Special Achievement Award went to Anzac Cummings, who has devoted his life to racing in the Northern Rivers region. I pay tribute to country racing. Recently, the Lismore Cup was held at Lismore Turf Club. I am pleased to see the Minister for Gaming and Racing in the Chamber because he attended the cup meeting as our special guest. I pay tribute to Lismore Turf Club, which began promoting the event three months ago with a rodeo held at the racetrack.
Then on the horses' birthday, 1 August, the club held a black and white ball, including dinner, which was well attended. It was a slightly different promotion to continue highlighting the cup meeting. The festivities continued some weeks later with the Northern Star fashion parade held at the turf club, which proved extremely successful. The following weekend there was a truck show and a parade through the main streets of Lismore. More than 100 trucks joined the parade and were later displayed at the racetrack. The trucking industry then sponsored a race day in support of the Our Kids Program at Lismore hospital and local preschools. The event also promoted the upcoming Lismore Cup race meeting. In the week before the Lismore Cup a successful golf day generated much interest.
The Lismore Cup was the most successful race meeting ever held by the Lismore Turf Club. It was the culmination of the hard work of Ron Marriott and his committee, Michael Timbrell and his workers, and the club's many sponsors. The Southern Cross University has offered great support to the club, and its involvement has certainly paid dividends. The Lismore Cup was a prelude to the Masters Games, which were held in Lismore the following weekend—but I will speak about that in another private member's statement. A half-day holiday was declared on Lismore Cup day. More than 10,000 people attended the race meeting and enjoyed the great atmosphere and the many hospitality marquees. Many families and young people were among the crowd. If that meeting is any indication, the future of racing in the Northern Rivers region is in good hands. The Lismore Turf Club capitalised on that community interest and held a very successful meeting.
Unfortunately, the Minister for Gaming and Racing did not win a prize in fashions on the field—we tried to get one for him—but he still enjoyed himself. I thank the Minister for finalising a governors' licence for the Lismore Turf Club, which I know is most appreciated. I am sure that he will comment on that issue in a moment. I must also pay tribute to Col Keane and his family, who waited for 15 years to have a runner in the Tooheys New Lismore Gold Cup. Col owns the renowned local business Eagles Plumbing Supplies Pty Ltd. Col's horse, Our Eeyore, won the cup. Sadly, the horse is destined for a career in Victoria as a hurdler, but it provided local punters with much enjoyment on race day. I congratulate the Lismore Turf Club on its great achievement.
Mr GRANT McBRIDE (The Entrance—Minister for Gaming and Racing) [6.04 p.m.]: I congratulate both the honourable member for Lismore and Lismore Turf Club on their far-sightedness in considering how best to use the club's facilities. I understand that the club function centre can accommodate several hundred people and that the area surrounding that centre can also be used for functions and other events. The current licence limits the activities of the club but the new arrangements that are being put in place will give the club an opportunity to establish a business centre and generate more income. That will be good for the club, the community and the surrounding area.
The Lismore Cup is the biggest event on the local racing calendar. Cup days and other country races are important to the structure of the racing industry. I have talked to representatives of metropolitan, provincial and country racing—each level is equally important—about their community service obligations. Racing is part of the social fabric. The Lismore Cup, which I attended, was not just a race meeting but also a celebration of the local community. Race meetings are about building communities and supporting the social fabric in local areas. I have stressed repeatedly to the administrators of commercial operations in all three racing codes that they have a responsibility to their communities. Country racing is the roots of the tree and, if the roots are nurtured, the tree will grow tall and strong. We must recognise that the economic rationalist model does not apply to racing. People become involved in local racing because they want to: they are volunteers. I congratulate the Lismore Turf Club on its achievements and reiterate my support for all country racing clubs.