Accountant takes over after Queensland racing clean-out   Leave a comment

Accountant takes over after Queensland racing clean-out

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Queensland All Codes Racing Industry Board Chairman Kevin Dixon speaking at Racing Queensland in Deagon. Picture: Claudia Baxter. Source: News Corp Australia

Queensland horse racing’s biggest day of the year, today’s Stradbroke Handicap, will be overseen by a little-known accountant who took the reins after this week’s clean-out of the governing bodies in the wake of the greyhound cruelty scandal.

KPMG administrator Ian Hall was temporarily put in charge of horse, harness and dog racing after the various boards were sacked by the state government as claims emerged of financial turmoil within Racing Queensland.

The sector, which employs 30,000 people, is again in disarray, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk warning it may have been dealt a “terminal blow’’ by the animal cruelty uncovered by the MacSporran inquiry, which delivered its findings on Tuesday.

The effects of the greyhound scandal spread to horse racing — with the board sackings and recommended establishment of an all-code integrity watchdog — just as the sport was being tipped for a new golden era in Queensland.

The outgoing board, headed by businessman Kevin Dixon, had secured last year’s $4.5 billion licensing deal with gambling giant Tatts that delivered an upfront $100 million licence payment and a future share of the sports betting market.

The deal funded a boost in prizemoney this year and a new incentive scheme created for the breeding of horses in Queensland.

And last month a deal was announced between the Brisbane Racing Club and Mirvac for a residential development next to Brisbane’s Eagle Farm racecourse that was to fund new stables and carparks and “future proof’’ the centre.

But within days of sacking the boards, Ms Palaszczuk said Mr Hall had found that Racing Queensland — the umbrella entity for the three codes — would post $11m in losses this year, and a $21m loss next year. Mr Dixon has since described the projections as “fictitious’’, saying Racing Queensland’s own projections — endorsed by a representative of the state Auditor-General’s office, was that books would be balanced next year.

He said that it appeared the new figures had factored in the cost of implementing the inquiry’s recommendations for better monitoring of animals and a separate integrity body that would operate outside the governing bodies.

The costs have sent a shudder through the industry, with Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys warning that costs blew out “by five or six times’’ when the government took over integrity in harness and greyhound racing in his state, with little difference.

But Racing Minister Bill Byrne, who has denied the board clean-out was revenge for the previous government’s own inquiry into the former Labor-appointed racing board, said his government would pick up most of the tab for the new measures.

“It is a matter being looked at at the moment, and the amount that this will cost, ‘’ he said.

“The government will be paying for elements of the architecture of the changes.

“But there is no question of us loading up Racing Queensland or the industry itself with any dramatically increased costs.’’

The Thoroughbred Breeders Queensland Association, Queensland Trainers Association and Magic Millions earlier joined forces to unsuccessfully attempt to block the sacking of the board of Racing Queensland.

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Posted June 6, 2015 by belesprit09 in Uncategorized

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