Government Support Package - Statement from Executive Chair, Dean McKenzie

12 May 2020

RITA welcomes the Government’s announcement today, and particularly, the tireless advocacy of the Racing Minister, Rt. Hon Winston Peters during this time.

Covid19 has presented the racing industry with one of its greatest challenges in its 150 year lifetime. Without today’s announcement, the industry faced the serious prospect of confining all those years of New Zealand culture to the history books.

With TAB customer numbers down 35 percent, monthly revenue down almost 50 percent frompre-Covid forecasts and continued uncertainty for a full resumption of racing and sport, the support provides a much needed lifeline to ensure the TAB can come out of this and continue to generate critical revenue for racing and sport in NZ.

Most of the country only sees the glitz and glamour of racing - the reality is that this industry contributes $1.6 billion to New Zealand’s GDP and supports 14,000 grassroots jobs behind the scenes, with many based in our regional economies. The money to sustain this comes from the TAB and animal owners.

Ultimately, all industry participants are dependent on the confidence of animal owners to continue investing. Today’s announcement will be received by the sector as a welcome boost of encouragement, and with positive ramifications for all those drawing their livelihoods from racing.

However today’s announcement doesn’t change the fact that Covid19 has highlighted some serious underlying structural issues within the industry. In line with the direction of the Government’s reform programme, more tough decisions will be required going forward, and the industry must continue reforming now more than ever in order to be sustainable. 

RITA will be continuing to consult with staff on critical proposals aimed at ensuring the sustainability of the organisation and developing it into becoming a more commercially focused, leaner and more efficient business, so it can continue to fund racing and the wider NZ sporting community