Racing tax overhaul gives Luke Foley the whip hand over Premier Mike Baird


Originally published: The Daily Telegraph, 13 January 2015.

By Andrew Clennell

NSW’s vastly inflated racing tax would be slashed under a Labor government, bringing it in line with the much lower tax paid by punters in Victoria.

In his first major policy ­announcement ahead of the March state election, new Opposition Leader Luke Foley yesterday revealed to The Daily Telegraph that Labor would cut the tax by more than 60 per cent if elected.

Under Mr Foley’s plan the tax on every $100 wagered in NSW would be cut from $3.22 to match the Victorian rate of $1.28.

The NSW racing industry generates $3.3 billion a year, and the Labor leader said the move would generate 2000 extra racing jobs in the state and help Labor “make Sydney the racing capital of the southern hemisphere”.

Mr Foley said the funding for the policy, which is worth up to $100 million a year, would come from consolidated revenue, although he added the tax cut could generate extra revenue, and therefore extra tax for government.

“We’ll implement it from the 1st of January next year so it is in place for the autumn carnival next year. We want The Championships to be the biggest meeting in Australia,” Mr Foley said.

The Daily Telegraph has long lobbied for this change, as has Racing NSW, arguing the extra funding for The Championships, which are run every April, could create a much richer event to challenge Melbourne’s spring carnival.

“There are 50,000 people working in this industry in NSW. We want it to grow,” Mr Foley said.

“I want more jobs in the racing industry right around NSW, in country towns, at regional courses.

“Fifty-five per cent of the economic activity is generated in regional NSW. The largest areas of activity are the Hunter, which is 18.5 per cent of the industry, and Western Sydney at 13.5 per cent.’’

Mr Foley’s move will put ­pressure on NSW Premier Mike Baird to follow suit, with the ­Premier having so far promised only to consider a possible tax cut in the state Budget next June.

This is despite the fact that a ­report to him by former Treasury ­secretary Michael Lambert, ­delivered late last year, recommended making the cut.

Under the system, NSW racing pays the highest state tax in the country. Victoria imposes a tax of 7.6 per cent of gross returns, while NSW requires a massive 19.11 per cent. Queensland charges just 82c per $100 for totalisator betting.

Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys said: “We are ­delighted the message is getting across that the NSW racing industry is being disadvantaged with an outdated regressive state tax. All studies show the importance of the NSW racing ­industry and how this tax jeopardises its viability.”

Originally published as: Racing tax overhaul gives Luke Foley the whip hand over Premier Mike Baird