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Horse racing lobby has access to NSW politicians and gives gifts, documents show

By on November 16, 2019

first_imgShare on Messenger Luke Foley State politicians made 67 separate racing-related disclosures in relation to the industry and Tabcorp between 2014-15 and 2017-18, the records show. The disclosures were typically for tickets to race meetings in NSW and Victoria, sometimes including hospitality, or invitations to exclusive luncheons or directors’ meetings.The most recent disclosures made by NSW politicians, yet to be tabled in parliament, reveal 26 gifts from the racing industry last financial year, far more than in the three years prior. New South Wales Topics Share on Facebook Share via Email Labor denounces big tobacco’s push to overturn Australia’s vaping ban Support The Guardian Guardian Australia is not suggesting the tickets and the industry’s access to ministers are linked, or that they directly influenced government decisions. Nor is the industry unique in offering freebies to politicians. The disclosure records show other big sporting bodies, like the NRL and the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust, regularly gift free tickets, as do tourism bodies and cultural institutions.Ayres, who also owns a stake in a number of racehorses, is often obliged through his ministerial role to attend major sporting events.“On average Minister for Sport Stuart Ayres has attended 5 race meetings a year for the past four and a half years,” a spokeswoman for Ayres said. “All disclosures are made in accordance with NSW Parliamentary guidelines.” “Racing is a significant contributor to the NSW economy and creates a significant number of jobs in regional NSW,” the spokesman said. “Mr Foley is a strong supporter of the industry, as well as a racing enthusiast.”The Australian Turf Club said it invited a range of guests, including politicians, to major meets each year.“Thoroughbred horse racing employs tens of thousands of people and is enjoyed by millions of people week in and week out,” a club spokesman said.Racing NSW said the industry was large and contributed a significant amount to the NSW economy. A recent report by the NSW government found 90,214 people participated directly in the industry, and that racing contributed $3.3bn to the state economy.V’landys said most meetings were with the racing minister to discuss matters affecting the industry and his portfolio.“[Racing NSW] only averages nine meetings a year which appears inadequate considering the size of the NSW racing industry to the NSW economy and the many employees it represents,” he said.• This reporting is supported by the Susan McKinnon Foundation through the Guardian Civic Journalism Trust Share on Pinterest New South Wales politics Stuart Ayres, the sports minister, and the opposition leader, Luke Foley, were both by far the biggest recipients.Last year, Racing NSW provided Ayres tickets to the 2017 running of the Everest. That race has been at the centre of a week-long controversy, after the state government overrode the objections of the chief executive of the Opera House, Louise Herron, to allow the barrier draw to be projected onto the landmark building.Racing NSW denied its invitations to politicians constituted gifts and said it had “never provided any gift to any minister or member of parliament”. “The invitations are to a race meeting for lunch, so they can see first hand how the industry operates,” said the chief of Racing NSW, Peter V’landys.center_img Since you’re here… Horse racing Share on WhatsApp news Read more Share on Twitter The Transparency Project Share on LinkedIn But Griffith University integrity expert and Transparency International board member, professor AJ Brown, said the public was clearly concerned about the influence of donations, access, and gifts.Transparency International’s recent global corruption barometer showed 56% of the general public was concerned that businesses or individuals were being favoured in return for political donations or support. Brown said Australians clearly want “greater accountability … from politicians at every level”.“You have to ask why do businesses give gifts to politicians, especially politicians who make decisions about their industry?” he told Guardian Australia.A spokesman for Foley said the tickets he received were fully declared in accordance with the rules.Foley was a “strong supporter of the industry”, the spokesman said. … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay. Whether we are up close or further away, the Guardian brings our readers a global perspective on the most critical issues of our lifetimes – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. We believe complex stories need context in order for us to truly understand them. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. The New South Wales horse racing industry gains regular access to state ministers and has given almost 70 gifts to individual politicians that they were required to disclose in recent years, including free tickets to the race at the centre of the Opera House controversy.A Guardian Australia analysis of four years of ministerial diaries and gift disclosures sheds new light on the interactions between the racing industry – predominantly Racing NSW and the Australian Turf Club – and the state government.Racing NSW has met with ministers 29 times between 2014-15 and 2017-18, to represent its interests on “racing events”, “racing issues”, and the state government’s new 10% point of consumption online gambling tax. The Australian Turf Club, which owns clubs and operates racing events across Sydney – including at Randwick Racecourse – secured 10 meetings. Reuse this contentlast_img read more

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