Barilaro to seek government assistance for Queanbeyan Racing Club

NSW member for Monaro John Barilaro will apply for Capital Works funding from the NSW government to help improve parts of the struggling Queanbeyan Racing Club. Photo: Joshua Matic.

NSW member for Monaro John Barilaro will apply for Capital Works funding from the NSW government to help improve parts of the struggling Queanbeyan Racing Club. Photo: Joshua Matic.

STATE member for Monaro John Barilaro will take the battle to keep the Queanbeyan Racing Club alive to the NSW Parliament and plans to bring the state minister for Racing to Queanbeyan in the coming weeks.

It comes after a meeting was held between stakeholders of the club and members of the public on Monday night where methods to help the club reduce its debt and give viability back to horse owners and trainers were discussed.

Mr Barilaro and club stakeholders will also look to form an advisory committee to work with club administration to seek solutions that also meet the interests of horse owners and trainers.

At the end of the 2012-13 financial year the club returned a debt of $12,721 with $217,191 in liabilities, and club stakeholders believe this situation has continued on the downward slide this year.

The club confirmed to The Queanbeyan Age last week it was still in significant debt, but did not provide any numbers.

Horse owners and trainers fed up with not getting enough return for stabling their horses at the club believe simple improvements to the maintenance of the ground and grandstand would help attract more races to the club, which could also reduce its debt.

The club, situated on McCrae Street in Queanbeyan West, is on Crown land, which means any changes to the land must be cleared by the NSW government, and Mr Barilaro said he was committed to using his parliamentary powers to fix the issues surrounding the club.

"I will work with the minister for Racing Mr Troy Grant to seek possible Capital Works funding which could be used to improve the grandstand and fix other maintenance issues," he said.

"Troy is the state MP for Dubbo, and being a country-raised man, I have no doubt he will take a high interest in this matter too.

"I will be contacting him in the coming days and arrange for him to come to Queanbeyan to inspect the club."

But Mr Barilaro also put the pressure on club stakeholders and administration, 

saying there had been a missing link in communication between them that needed repairing.

However some stakeholders said they had always struggled for answers from the club and Racing NSW.

"At the moment, the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing," said Mr Barilaro.

Most of the 37 people at the meeting were local horse owners and trainers, and they were vocal and direct in their advice to the racing club- put on more racing meets.

"We owners and horse trainers pay our leases to keep our horses in stables at the club, but there's just no compensation for that at the moment," said Queanbeyan owner and trainer Mick Smith.

"Our business is racing, and our blocks are our shop fronts.

"Some blocks are worth $100,000, and it's a life investment ... if we don't have racing meets happening and the club is in debt, and if we have to travel to other clubs to race, then we're running at a loss."

Fellow Queanbeyan horse trainer Gary Clarke said the club should look at opening its doors daily for catering and entertainment purposes similarly to other sports clubs, labelling the club as "stagnant" for most of the year.

Amalgamation with other racing clubs was also suggested, as well as requesting Racing NSW to dump club administration and give it back to the power of a board.

But Mr Barilaro emphasised that it was not a time of panic, and the club was actually in safe hands in the short term under the administration of Racing NSW.

"We need to think of it as an insurance policy," said Mr Barilaro.

"Having said that, we definitely need a long term plan, but we can't forget that country racing as a whole is struggling at the moment."

A formal letter endorsed by Mr Barilaro, detailing the meeting, will be sent to Racing NSW, who are currently administering the Queanbeyan Club through its financial troubles, and will request an official travels to Queanbeyan to directly audit the clubs administrative process.

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