Australia’s Horse Racing and Breeding Industry Needs Strong Political Representation

Australia’s Horse Racing and Breeding Industry Needs  Strong Political Representation

If you are involved in or you are fan of horse racing in Australia, it is important to think hard before you vote in the upcoming election.

Given the size of the industry in the country it is well and truly underrepresented in the political arena.

From the breeding shed to the winners circle, politicians have done very little for the people involved in racing.

While you may think the industry is bulletproof recent data shows there are significant challenges ahead, challenges that require Industry and Politic action.

The Racing industry in Australia incorporates a diverse range of businesses including horse breeding/farming, horse racing (thoroughbred and harness), greyhound racing, and management of the facilities used specifically for those activities.

In 2013–14, horse and greyhound racing contributed approximately $1.5 billion to the Australian Gross Domestic Product. Further value-added income for the economy is generated by breeding, horse sales, prize money and wagering.

Industry figures indicate there are 79,631 Racehorse Owners, 18,502 Trainers, Jockeys and Track Riders, 30,000 registered greyhound racing participants and a number of volunteers and hobbyists involved in the industry. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that in 2016 the industry included 3,459 horse farms and 1,908 racing businesses collectively employing 13,061 people.

The Racing IRC’s 2018 Skills Forecast identifies a number of factors which provide challenges and opportunities for the Racing industry, and have implications for the industry’s workforce. These include:

  • The industry workforce is aging. The proportion of employees in each age group category over 50-years-old increased by 2% in 2016 when compared with 2006.
  • Demand for high-quality and superior bloodline foals from the Racing industry through Trainers and Racehorse Owners is a key driver for the sale of racehorses, breeding and stud horses. Participants in the industry believe it remains resilient, despite a decline in foal numbers over the last five years.
  • The industry is subject to market forces which drive event attendance and wagering. Competition from other sports and other forms of gambling can affect attendances at racing events and the number of consumers who bet on horse races and greyhound races, and the industry is constantly challenged to find ways to increase attendance and consumption.
  • Animal welfare practices remain a present challenge for the industry. Positive results in re-homing programs for retired racing animals have been achieved. More opportunities exist for the industry to develop animal welfare measures and practices, provide more transparency and strengthen communication to the wider community.
  • Initiatives to modernise practices in relation to the contractual relationship between owners and trainers, integrity of sales and social and workplace obligations have included: consideration in some areas of the introduction of a Security for Training Fees System outlining components including Standard Training Terms and Standard Joint Owner Terms; a register that will publish all the beneficial owners of a horse offered for auction; and new rules relating to anti-racial vilification and inappropriate social media.

To address the skills needs created by these challenges and opportunities, the above Skills Forecast has identified the top skill needs and priority skills for the racing industry.

The top priority industry and occupation skills include:

  • Retraining and re-educating ex-racing animals, (horses and greyhounds) to be retired and live safely outside of the racing industry
  • Race Horse breeding skills
  • Greyhound health assistant skills
  • Skills in incident management involving horses or greyhounds
  • Skills in greyhound training.

The industry priorities for generic skills include:

  • Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) skills
  • Learning agility/Information literacy/Intellectual autonomy and self-management skills
  • Communication/Collaboration including virtual collaboration/Social intelligence skills
  • Financial skills
  • Customer service/Marketing skills.

It is time for the industry to band together and push for more political support.

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S. Jack Heffernan Ph.D. Funds Manager at HEFFX holds a Ph.D. in Economics and brings with him over 25 years of trading experience in Asia and hands on experience in Venture Capital, he has been involved in several start ups that have seen market capitalization over $500m and 1 that reach a peak market cap of $15b. He has managed and overseen start ups in Mining, Shipping, Technology and Financial Services.

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