27 June 2018
Sleepy Minister depriving racing industry of support
The failure of the Minister for Racing and Gaming to understand the operations of the TAB and its relatively high cost structure could be depriving the racing industry in terms of its distribution from wagering, the State Opposition said today.
Shadow Minister for Racing and Gaming John McGrath said a study conducted by respected bank analyst Morgan Stanley showed the WA TAB has become bloated with operating costs at 55% of revenue, which is almost double that of Tabcorp and Tatt’s in other States.
“When questioned about the TAB’s significant cost base in Parliament today, it was alarming the Minister had no idea of the issue even though it had been highlighted in the media,” Mr McGrath said.
“The racing industry is being deprived of the support it deserves because the Minister is asleep at the wheel.
“The higher the cost structure of the TAB, the less it can provide the industry which is crying out for as much support as possible.
“The Minister needs to improve his performance and explain to the industry the basis of the TAB’s high operating costs and what he intends to do to address it. Otherwise the Western Australian racing industry and participants will lose out.”
Mr McGrath said Morgan Stanley estimated the TABs operating expenses made up 55% of its $340 million in annual revenue compared with just 21 per cent at Tabcorp and 23 per cent at Tatt’s.
“How can the state owned TAB compete with the likes of Tabcorp and the online bookies when its costs are double that of the other operators,” Mr McGrath said.
“The McGowan Government said in the recent budget it intended to end the uncertainty over the future of the TAB, yet the racing industry is still waiting for a decision to be made.
“It is high time the Minister showed interest in his portfolio and made sure the TAB was providing the best possible support to the industry.
“When the Minister was asked that he request the Treasurer use the powers available to him to have the Economic Regulation Authority review the operations of the TAB, he rejected the notion even though he admitted he was unfamiliar with the issue of the TAB’s high cost structure.
“It beggars belief that the Minister is not familiar with the operations of the TAB, but for him to flat out refuse to have an independent Government agency review its operations, in order to improve its performance and support the for the racing industry, shows a failure of leadership.
30 May 2018
Will the Minister support Australia’s oldest jockey?
The Opposition has called on the Minister for Racing and Gaming to show leadership and support Australia’s oldest, and one of Western Australia’s most respected jockeys, Danny Miller.
Shadow Minister for Racing and Gaming John McGrath said it was extremely disappointing that Racing and Wagering Western Australia (RWWA) had terminated Miller’s licence to ride without any explanation for the decision.
“I have discussed this with the Miller family and I share the family members’ heartache at the treatment of Danny,” Mr McGrath said. “Miller’s family says it has been left without any clear answers to the questions it has put to RWWA.
“RWWA has handled this terribly and the Minister needs to tell racing’s governing body to show some respect for a jockey who has entertained generations of racing enthusiasts, mentored hundreds of jockeys, made a significant contribution to the racing industry and volunteered his time to the industry.
“We are a sporting nation that celebrates our heroes, but RWWA is acting callously in the way it is bringing Danny Miller’s career to an abrupt end without entertaining the suggestion that he be given an appropriate farewell.
“Danny’s family is devastated at his treatment and has every reason to be so.
“When our cricket greats’ careers come to an end, they are celebrated. When the careers of our footy champs come to an end, they are paraded around the MCG.
“RWWA has not only immediately terminated Danny’s career without explanation, it has not even offered an appropriate farewell. It should have engaged with Danny and discussed his departure from racing on agreed terms.
“The way it has treated Danny Miller, a stalwart of the industry, RWWA is sending a message to all participants in the industry their contribution is not appreciated.
“If RWWA is not prepared to do the right thing by a long term servant of the industry, the Minister ought to get involved and tell it to show some courtesy in explaining its decision to Miller and his family.”
24 May 2018
Historic Goldfields harness club sidelined by RWWA
Shadow Minister for Racing and Gaming John McGrath has expressed disappointment at Racing and Gaming Minister Paul Papalia’s refusal to intervene in a recent decision by Racing and Wagering Western Australia (RWWA) that will end 100 years of harness racing in Kalgoorlie.
At a meeting in Kalgoorlie on Monday afternoon, RWWA officials told local participants it would not reconsider the decision stop allocating race meetings to the Golden Mile Trotting Club (GMTC) after the 2018 season.
RWWA says it will stand by its March 29 announcement despite receiving a business plan from GMTC with options to develop and expand the club to ensure its survival and sustainability.
Responding to questions from Mr McGrath in the Legislative Assembly Estimates Committee hearing this week Minister Papalia said he would not intervene on the matter.
“This is a disturbing decision by RWWA which, when formed some years ago, was charged with fostering the racing industry in WA,” Mr McGrath said.
“What we have seen in Kalgoorlie is a club being stripped to the bone.”
Mr McGrath said people in the regions saw this as the thin edge of the wedge for a sport that had always been community based, especially in country towns.
“RWWA shut down Geraldton, now Kalgoorlie. Which club will be next? Albany, Collie, Bridgetown, Williams, Busselton?” Mr McGrath said.
“We all know that Kalgoorlie has had problems with horse numbers in recent years but the club feels RWWA could have done more to assist and says that even with reduced field sizes, its betting turn-over both on and off track compares favourably with comparable tracks.
“This club is a significant part of harness racing in WA. Mount Eden, the best harness horse ever produced in this State, won his first race in Kalgoorlie, Dainty’s Daughter raced there, as did Yankee Rhythm and Bronze Whaler.
“There will also be a significant economic impact on the local business sector and wider community.”
6 March 2018
McGowan Government leaves racing industry in limbo
The McGowan Government needs to end the uncertainty around the sale of the TAB and make a formal commitment to the future of the racing industry in Western Australia.
Shadow Minister for Racing and Gaming John McGrath said the Government’s announcement today to further consult on the issue was nothing more than an exercise in kicking the can down the road.
“The consultation has already been done but the outcome of that consultation does not seem to support the political ends of the McGowan Government which in Opposition opposed the sale,” Mr McGrath said.
“A two-year process by the former Government that engaged with the Western Australian Racing Representative Group (WARRG) and other industry stakeholders has already concluded there is industry support for the privatisation of the TAB.
“As part of this process, $300,000 was provided to the WARRG to complete an Industry Requirements Report which allowed the racing industry to make an independent assessment on the benefits of a sale of the WA TAB.
“The outcome was that the WA racing industry formally adopted a position of conditional support for the privatisation of WA TAB in 2016.”
Mr McGrath said the former Government also undertook a number of regional consultation forums to allow race clubs around the state to have their say on the future of their industry.
“The end result of all this consultation was that the industry gave a clear directive that it wanted to work constructively with the State Government and to develop a post-privatisation framework,” Mr McGrath said.
“The former Government had a plan to sell the TAB but was blocked at every stage by the then Labor Opposition.
“The McGowan Government needs to stop re-inventing the wheel and creating unnecessary uncertainty in the racing industry.
“Once again I call on the Minister for Racing and Gaming and the WA Treasurer to immediately outline the Government’s vision for the TAB and the future of the racing industry.”
23 January 2018
JOINT MEDIA RELEASE WITH LIZA HARVEY MLA, SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT
Stadium cap backflip welcomed
Public pressure has once again prevailed, this time forcing the McGowan Government to overturn it’s ill-considered decision to impose a cap on crowd numbers at the Perth Scorchers final at Perth Stadium.
Shadow Minister for Sport and Recreation, John McGrath said Stadium was built to host 57,000 spectators at a cricket game, and should always have been made available to as many spectators as possible.
“The Scorchers have had an amazing season and it would be incomprehensible for the Government to limit the number of people who could attend,” Mr McGrath said.
“Western Australians are intelligent enough to work out how they would get to and from the stadium if they are aware it’s a sell-out.
“It has been disappointing the Government has taken so long to get to this position. There were many suggestions being put forward to resolve the challenge of moving 55,000 people to the Stadium at peak times, but all the Government wanted to do was talk about the problem and complain about history.”
Shadow Transport Minister Liza Harvey said the Government needed to turn its backflip into a double-backflip and allow other ride sharing services, such as Uber and Shofer, to access the stadium.
“If the Government is allowing taxis to access the stadium, it should also allow other ride-sharing services to access the stadium,” Mrs Harvey said.
“The Government needs to remove impediments for getting people to the stadium, not put roadblocks in place.
“We welcome the fact the Government is allowing the Stadium to fill to capacity; it is important they now expand the transport options available to people going to the Scorchers final.”
16 January 2018
Government must remove ticket cap if Scorchers host finals
The State Opposition has called on the State Government to immediately remove the cap on capacity at Perth Stadium in the event the Perth Scorchers host a final in the BBL07.
Shadow Minister for Sport and Recreation John McGrath said if the State Government was willing to increase Ed Sheeran concert ticket numbers from 40,000 to 55,000, it should also remove the cap on tickets for a Perth Scorchers final should they have the opportunity to host one at Perth’s new state-of-the-art stadium.
“Perth is now home to one of the world’s best stadiums but the continued politicisation of the venue by the McGowan Government risks our ability to continue to attract big ticket events.
“They are putting politics ahead of putting on the very best possible event. The Government’s claims the stadium is in the wrong location and the public transport is not up to scratch is a cop-out.
“They need to allow as many people to attend as possible and let people choose for themselves how they will get there.”
Mr McGrath said the Premier must explain why the Scorchers are being hit with an attendance cap while the Ed Sheeran concert was granted 15,000 more tickets.
“Since coming to Government there has been a herd of Labor MPs at every media opportunity jostling to have their face and name associated with the state-of-the-art stadium,” Mr McGrath said.
“Yet the same Labor MPs and the Premier have been tripping over themselves to make decisions which hold back this significant infrastructure project.
“The McGowan Government has sold out the Perth name, banned Uber, banned full strength beer, and unnecessarily delayed and increased the cost of the foot bridge. To now impose an arbitrary cap on a potential Scorchers final continues the stream of bad decisions by this Government”
“We are about to embark on a new era for sport in Western Australia – an era which if managed properly by the Government will put Perth on show to Australia and the world for decades.”
“The Liberals in Government promised a world-class venue, and this Sunday we will see that delivered.”
“It is time for Premier McGowan to stop the petty nit-picking, and obstructive decisions, take pride in this magnificent new asset, and make it available to as many spectators as possible if the Scorchers make the finals.”
5 September 2017
Labor creates uncertainty for racing industry
The McGowan government needs to get on with making decisions, and stop being a commentator on and rewriting history, Shadow Minister for Racing and Gaming, John McGrath said today.
Mr McGrath said the Minister for Racing and Gaming, Paul Papalia had falsely claimed the former Government arbitrarily announced it would sell the WA TAB without consultation.
“This is blatantly untrue and shows the Minister is more interested in political point scoring, than securing the future of and providing confidence to the racing industry,” Mr McGrath said.
“Not only did we consult with the industry, we funded the Western Australian Racing Representative Group to determine the needs of the industry. The WARRG undertook an extensive consultation program, which led to a well thought out policy that had the support of the industry.
“Throughout our term in Government, Labor had nothing constructive to offer the industry. Now they are in government, they are backflipping and starting the process all over again.
“This is a waste of time, money, resources and leaves the industry with uncertainty about their future.
“When they were in Opposition, Labor was constant negative, talked down the industry and said the industry would become a basket case. Little did we know, that was their plan, not just a flippant comment.”
“Labor put road block after road block in the way of industry and opposed the former Liberal Government’s well considered initiative, after a long period of consultation.
“They need to stop rewriting history and start talking up the industry and make decisions that instill confidence in the industry.”
31 August 2017
WA Racing Industry needs clarity from State Government
Shadow Minister for Racing and Gaming John McGrath says the McGowan Government must end uncertainty in the WA racing industry and declare its plans for the Western Australian TAB.
Mr McGrath said the State Government was leaving an almost $1 billion dollar sector swinging in the wind while it pandered to internal factions and union interests over the future of the state-owned wagering business.
“State Government Ministers are sending mixed messages about whether they plan to adopt the Liberal Party policy to sell the TAB,” Mr McGrath said. “More importantly, there has been no clarity from the Government on how the racing and wagering industry will be supported by the sale.”
Mr McGrath was also critical of Racing and Gaming Minister Paul Papalia’s dismissive comments about the industry’s peak consultation body, the Western Australian Racing Representative Group. “The WARRG was formed to bring together stakeholder groups identified under the RWWA Act to facilitate consultation and be an industry voice to Government. It wasn’t just an ‘alternative advisory body’,” Mr McGrath said. “The WARRG had come up with a detailed report on the needs and requirements of the WA racing industry, which is supportive of the sale, which Mr Papalia should not dismiss.”
“In turn the former Government also agreed in principle to quarantine 20 per cent of the sale proceeds for an infrastructure fund to support the industry,” Mr McGrath said.
“The State Government needs to understand that selling the TAB is not like selling land. It is an asset that has recurring funding obligations in an industry that has up to 25,000 participants and stakeholders. It is extremely crucial that the State Government presents a carefully analysed plan that accommodates the interests of the racing industry, as well as the potential acquirer and the state. The stakeholders can then make a judgment on the merits of a proposed plan.”
“The real problem is that the McGowan Government has to juggle the spectrum of philosophical agendas among its powerful union puppet masters as well as keep the Greens happy before it even considers the interests of the racing and wagering industry.”
“The racing and wagering industry has had its challenges in recent times, and deserves to be sustained and looked after,” he said.
Between 2015 and 2016, the industry:
- Created more than $821 million in real gross value-added to the WA economy;
- Generated total direct expenditure of $682.3 million;
- Had more than 24,400 people participate in racing; and
- Directly employed over 8,000 people.
11 August 2017
Member for South Perth Calls for Expansion of Ferry Services
The Member for South Perth, John McGrath MLA, has called on the McGowan Government to review the outcome of the interim report of the previous State Government’s Ferries Working Group (FWG), which was completed in December 2016, and progress its recommendations.
In a speech to Parliament on 10 August 2017, Mr McGrath, as former Chair of the FWG, highlighted the work undertaken by the group in identifying opportunities to introduce expansion of Perth’s ferry network. The FWG included broad representation from the Department of Transport, Transperth, Public Transport Authority, the former Department of Parks and Wildlife, Tourism WA, and the Department of Planning.
The immediate and short-to-long-term opportunities identified by the FWG include:
- A ferry stop at Guildford to cater for tourists taking commercial ferries who are interested in exploring heritage destinations as part of their visit to the Swan Valley region. Leading up to the 2017 state election, the Liberal Party allocated $3 million to build a jetty and landside facilities at Guildford. This was driven by the commitment to broaden the range of experiences for tourists travelling by commercial ferry by providing additional and required infrastructure.
- Introduction of a public ferry loop service linking places like Elizabeth Quay, Waterbank, Perth Stadium Claisebrook Cove, Crown Perth, Burswood Peninsula, Belmont Park and East Perth Power Station, as well a public ferry service between Canning Bridge, Matilda Bay and Elizabeth Quay.
- Funding considerations to provide a third public transport ferry to increase the current ferry service capability and serve the Perth Stadium and/or Elizabeth Quay during special events.
- An update of the Public Transport Authority’s concept design for Canning Bridge to provide for access to the foreshore and a ferry stop. This may need to involve an upgrade of the existing jetty owned by the City of Melville on Canning River near the Raffles Hotel as a temporary option prior to the development of a new public transport transfer facility on the eastern side of Canning Bridge.
- A further assessment/modelling of potential new ferry services to and from Canning Bridge to test viability. Mr McGrath emphasised that a ferry service from Canning Bridge into the city would “mean that the people who live in that part of Applecross on that side of Canning Bridge would not have to cross the bridge to catch a train that could be full by the time it gets there. It would just provide another alternative for travellers.”
- A regular, fast low-wash commercial ferry service between Perth and Fremantle.
In addition to tourism activities involving commercial ferry operations, Mr McGrath said: “Regular commuter use of ferries is set to continue to increase, especially when parts of Perth are developing towards higher density, which we see now in South Perth in my electorate and also across the river in Applecross, where there is a lot of development planned, so the population in those areas will grow.” Mr McGrath also said: “There is a growing push from the community for greater use of the Swan River for both commuter and tourism ferry transport. This has mainly been driven by the success of Elizabeth Quay and the arrival next year of the new Perth Stadium.”
As part of the next stage of the review, the FWG had also planned to formally and systematically consult local governments and institutions (such as the University of Western Australia) that have an interest in the expansion of the ferry network. This was to understand their plans and to obtain an understanding on how the State Government and relevant parties can work together to develop an expanded ferry network.
Mr McGrath emphasised that “our city is going to grow”, requiring a long-term vision for ferry transport, and called for the State Government’s commitment in this area.
8 June 2017
Renaming Perth Stadium – it’s just not cricket!
The State Opposition has called on the State Government to renege on its pre-election thought bubble to sell the naming rights to the Perth Stadium.
Shadow Sports Minister John McGrath said it was not appropriate to brand such a spectacular landmark with a temporary corporate name.
“Perth should be the name being broadcast into homes around the world every time an international event is held at the stadium,” Mr McGrath said.
“Selling the naming rights to what will be an iconic building was a cobbled together thought bubble Labor came up with when they were looking for opportunities to fund their $5 billion of election
promises. They should not cheapen Perth with this crazy idea. Perth Stadium should be integral to the Government’s destination marketing activities for years to come and the value derived from this will far exceed any relatively small revenue gains from
selling the naming rights.”
Mr McGrath said the Government should take the advice of the experts in tourism and make it clear immediately that Perth Stadium will not be rebranded.
24 May 2017
Member for South Perth Calls for Facility Upgrades for Local Secondary Schools
The Member for South Perth, John McGrath MLA, has called on the McGowan Government to not neglect the needs of two secondary schools in Como and Victoria Park.
In a speech to Parliament on 18 May 2017, Mr McGrath highlighted the reputation and achievements of Como Secondary College and Kent Street Senior High School, and their specialist programs in addition to the general curriculum. Como Secondary College was built in 1969, and Kent Street Senior High School in Victoria Park was built in 1940. Both schools have infrastructure upgrade needs that have been identified in an audit program conducted by the Department of Education.
On 23 May 2017, The West Australian reported on the Department of Education’s building inspection and assessment program that identified the need to replace or repair ceilings in a number of schools following a series of incidents. The former Liberal National Government took very seriously the Department of Education’s appraisal of the required upgrades in various schools, and initiated the plan to perform major upgrades of classrooms and build specialist learning facilities. This commitment to refurbish high schools built before 1985 was to be funded by the partial sale of Western Power.
Therefore, leading up to the 2017 state election, the former Liberal National Government committed funding of $20 million each to Como Secondary College and Kent Street Senior High School to deliver facility upgrades. This was an important, much-needed commitment as it would provide these two exceptional high schools with modern facilities more in keeping with the needs of secondary education in the 21st century.
Referring to Como Secondary College, Mr McGrath said in Parliament that it was a “once-in-a-lifetime chance” to get a real upgrade of the school’s facilities.
“It is a good school working out of a facility that is really old and tired.”
“That is why I was very pleased that that was part of our policy. Now, I just have to work with the new government and see whether we can get some funding to upgrade this great school.”
Mr McGrath calls on the McGowan Government to stop creating confusion, uncertainty, and chaos with its ill-conceived plan to relocate Perth Modern School, and focus instead on the urgent needs of many secondary schools in Western Australia with ageing facilities. The former Liberal National Government’s major school upgrades plan focused on the schools’ genuine needs, regardless of the electorate they are located in. Mr McGrath also calls on Labor not to politicise the issue and spend money only on Labor-held electorates.
5 May 2017
JOINT MEDIA RELEASE WITH STEVE IRONS MP, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR SWAN
Funding agreement will see Manning Road on-ramp proceed
Federal Member for Swan Steve Irons MP and State Member for South Perth John McGrath MLA have welcomed a Commonwealth-State funding agreement that will see construction of a southbound on-ramp at Manning Road and Kwinana Freeway go ahead.
The agreement struck will see the Commonwealth Government contribute $28 million and the State Government $7 million to undertake the $35 million infrastructure project.
Federal Member for Swan Steve Irons said the Turnbull Liberal Government was delivering its 2016 election commitment to deliver funding to build the Manning Road on-ramp.
“This is an issue that has the universal support of the community in Manning and will have a positive impact on road safety and congestion along the Manning Road corridor.
“Many residents have completed my surveys calling for this important piece of infrastructure and we have been pursuing this in the state and federal parliaments on behalf of the community.
“I am proud to have played a role in finally getting this on-ramp over the line and my focus now will be on making sure construction can begin as soon as possible.”
State Member for South Perth John McGrath said this was a project he had been fighting for since 2005.
“When I first raised this issue in 2005 it received overwhelming community support,” he said. “However, while the Department of Transport identified it as an important infrastructure, other projects seemed to be given priority.
“Following the Turnbull Government’s funding commitment in 2016, the Barnett Government also committed to fund this project during the recent state election campaign. However, there was no commitment from the Labor opposition, which was causing some concern for the residents and road users who desperately want to see this project proceed.
“We are delighted that this upgrade will now go ahead as part of this funding agreement.
“I have to acknowledge the support from my Federal colleague Steve Irons who came on board after he was elected in 2007 and was instrumental in getting federal funding of $28 million,” he added.
- The scope of works for the project includes:
- Construction of a single-lane southbound on-ramp from Manning Road to Kwinana Freeway
- Right turn pocket at the Manning Road / Clydesdale Street intersection.
- Realignment and widening of Manning Road
- Conversion/reconstruction of local roads to accommodate the on-ramp