Shadow Racing Minister John McGrath says the industry will suffer financially from loss of race meetings unless a statewide co-ordination of racetrack maintenance and upgrading is put into place.
Mr McGrath was commenting on the upcoming closure of the Northam track for three meetings due to a black beetle infestation.
“This is embarrassing for the racing industry to have a situation where stakeholders will be deprived of an opportunity to race their horses,” he said. “That will affect everyone in the industry, including, owners, trainers, jockey, breeders, stablehands, bookmakers and raceday staff.
“The TAB loses revenue every time a meeting is cancelled.”
Mr McGrath called on Racing and Wagering Western Australia to set up a structure that would assist provincial and country clubs with track maintenance.
“We have a situation where the most expert person on track management, Geoff Murphy, is employed by Perth Racing, which also has the most modern equipment for use at Ascot and Belmont Park.
“As far as I am aware RWWA, which is responsible for the management of racing in WA, does not have a track and maintenance manager.
“I agree with trainer George Daly that Murphy, or someone with his expertise, should have a role in supervising maintenance at all provincial TAB courses.
“Some of these country courses are maintained on a shoestring budget and that’s not good enough for a multi-billion dollar industry. If it wasn’t for the work of volunteers, these tracks wouldn’t even open their gates.
“Yet people from all around Australia and in other parts of the world bet on these meetings. They attract our best trainers and jockeys. They shouldn’t have to put up with inferior surfaces.”
Mr McGrath said the closure of Northam would place greater pressure on Belmont Park.
“I have seen this situation coming for some time. That’s why I always thought Lark Hill should have been developed as a racetrack that had the capacity to take overflow meetings from other clubs.”