Handouts to the Racing Industry? So no more homeless then?!

By   /   January 31, 2018  /   22 Comments

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Deputy PM, Racing Minister, and de facto godfather, Winston Peters  announced on Sunday (28 January) that the New Zealand racing industry was due for tax-cuts for horse breeders and a taxpayer-funded all-weather horse racing track;

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Deputy PM, Racing Minister, and de facto godfather, Winston Peters  announced on Sunday (28 January) that the New Zealand racing industry was due for tax-cuts for horse breeders and a taxpayer-funded all-weather horse racing track;

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He’s promising the racing industry a multi-million dollar track that can be used even when its pouring with rain. Mr Peters says it is expected to cost around $10 million to construct.

It comes as several races throughout the country had to be abandoned.

The Minister says both taxpayers and the industry will be helping to pay for the new track.

Mr Peters is also promising tax relief for owners who are breeding horses for racing. He says the current legislation, which he delivered last time he was Racing Minister, isn’t working like it should.

This, at a time when homelessness in this country has been steadily rising since the 2006 Census;

The number of homeless people in New Zealand rose between the last two Census counts, a new study says.

The University of Otago study, which is based on Census data, said one in 100 were homeless in 2013, compared with one in 120 in 2006 and one in 130 in 2001.

The study used the Government’s official definition of homeless, which is people living in severely crowded houses, in motels, boarding houses, on the street or in cars.

Between 2006 and 2013, the rise in homeless people outstripped population growth.  New Zealand’s population grew by 4.8 per cent over this period, while the number of homeless grew by 25 per cent.

As Prime Minister Ardern said on TV3’s The Nation on 21 October last year;

“When you have a market economy, it all comes down to whether or not you acknowledge where the market has failed and where intervention is required. Has it failed our people in recent times? Yes. How can you claim you’ve been successful when you have growth roughly 3 percent, but you’ve got the worst homelessness in the developed world?”

For Winston Peters to be offering tax-breaks and taxpayer funded covered racetracks, at a time of critical need for boosting funding for housing, hospitals, mental healthcare, and other services is a return to the corporate cronyism we’ve experienced for the last nine years under National.

National’s corporate cronyism has included;

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There is probably more. National’s nine years in office has been less free-market and more corporate welfare than Muldoonism at it’s height. They’ve simply been more adept at hiding it.

In 2013, when it came to throwing taxpayers’ dollars at The Hobbit, Winston Peters was scathing at National’s corporate welfare  largesse;

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Peters even demanded that Warner Bros repay taxpayer’s money;

“Now the first movie has grossed more than $1 billion, Warner Brothers should repay the $67 million subsidy the movie moguls sucked from Kiwi taxpayers.”

After all the criticisms from Labour and NZ First at National’s corporate welfarism, the Coalition government has succumbed to the same folly of throwing money – our money! – at multi-million dollar businesses.

For an industry sector that turns over $1.6 billion, it beggars belief that they have their corporate hands out for taxpayer largesse and tax breaks. What other industry will be receiving tax breaks? Tourism? Wine and beer producers? Why not our nascent computer-gaming industry? Or Rocketlabs?

Key must be laughing his head off at this fiasco. After all the ‘stick’ given to Key and his National government for their corporate welfare, the Labour-led coalition have engaged in the same practice – only three months into their first term.

Was there no one with sufficient political nouse in Labour or NZ First’s Parliamentary offices to express reservations over this daft plan? That giving tax-dollars and tax-breaks to a “sport” enjoyed by predominantly affluent New Zealanders is not a particularly good idea? Especially when Labour and NZ First (and the Greens) made so much of New Zealand’s housing crisis during last year’s election campaign?

In effect, Peters has just handed the National Opposition a bloody big stick with which to whack the Coalition over their  heads. English and his minions will be gleefully strategising over how they can best use this corporate welfare to attack the Coalition.

National’s strategists have already started by launching this attack-website carrying negative messages;

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Side-note: Interestingly, the website is done in Labour Party colours – not National’s own blue livery. The National Party is not even directly mentioned anywhere on the main page. (Though the “Privacy Policy” link will take you to the National Party website. The authorisation statement is by “G. Hamilton”, National’s General Manager – though few people would know that.)

The racing industry has complained that a covered race-track is essential to allow all-weather events to be held. If so, let the racing industry pay for it. The “Sport of Kings” should not be paid from the taxes of hard-working New Zealanders who expect essential services in health, education, conservation, housing, mental health, policing, etc from their hard-earned tax-dollars. Not enhancing horse-racing facilities.

For perhaps the first (and hopefully the only) time, I find myself nodding in agreement with far-right blogger and former Libertarian/ACT candidate, Lindsay Mitchell, when she wrote her own critique of Peters’ plans;

Today [28 January] Racing Minister Winston Peters apparently promised an all weather track at the cost of $10 million (double it for starters) and either promised or called for tax breaks because the industry (breeding in particular) brings in so much money.

If tax breaks can make one industry stronger, then they can make any industry stronger.

Government picking winners is a recipe for corruption and injustice. We cannot expect New Zealanders who have not a skerrick of interest in the racing industry to disproportionately pay taxes to advance it.

Tax breaks are not subsidies if they are applied universally. Reduce tax period.

You are a guardian of public money Winston. Not a private investor.

On the upside, I am looking forward to our Prime anti-poverty crusader getting it in the neck today over her government’s support for “rich pricks”.

I, for one, will not be defending this policy from criticism from the Right. Because with thousands of New Zealanders homeless and struggling in poverty, it is indefensible. Absolutely, utterly, indefensible.

If the Coalition government wants to assist the racing industry, and they are incapable of raising their own funds, then a suitable compromise is  available. The State could easily borrow on behalf of the racing industry and on-lend to the appropriate racing club. Governments with good credit ratings can generally borrow at lower interest rates than from the commercial banking sector.

But it would have to be paid back.

The responsibility of this Coalition government is simple: Putting roofs over homeless families.

Not roofs over race tracks.

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References

NZ Herald:   Jacinda Ardern arrives at Ratana Pa in first visit by Labour PM since Clark

TVNZ:   Winston Peters announces a multi-million dollar all weather horse racing track is on the way

NZ Herald:  Homelessness rising in New Zealand

Mediaworks:  Homelessness proves capitalism is a ‘blatant failure’ – Jacinda Ardern

Fairfax media: Government denies MediaWorks loan

NZ Herald:  Filling the Cup – cost $500m and climbing

Radio NZ:  Farmers’ ETS exemption progresses

Fairfax media:  Federated Farmers say moving to ETS will cost primary industry $83m

Radio NZ:  Saudi sheep deal – MFAT didn’t provide legal advice on lawsuit risk

Interest.co.nz: Key says Government won’t add to NZ$30 million of support given to Rio Tinto to keep Tiwai Pt open

Fairfax media: $191m in public grants paid to Hollywood for Hobbit trilogy

Fairfax media:  Government called on to stand by existing irrigation contracts

Radio NZ:  Government defends Hobbit subsidies

Fairfax media:  Peters – Hobbit subsidy should be handed back

Otago Daily Times:  Peters signals intention to make ‘positive changes’

National Party: Let’s Undo This

Fairfax media:  Winston Peters back at helm of racing as a return to the old days is heralded

Youtube: Bad Taste

Other Blogs

Lindsay Mitchell:  Winston picking winners

Previous related blogposts

National Party Corporate welfare vs real welfare

National ditches environmental policies

ETS – National continues to fart around

“National Party Corporate welfare vs real welfare”

Corporate Welfare under National

The Corporate Welfare of Tiwai Point – An exercise in National’s “prudent fiscal management”?

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22 Comments

  1. Sam Sam says:

    It’s no different from rising land value in urban areas. Land gets expensive when people want to start doing things with it and the stuff around it. Why should rural nowhere be different? You want to put a multi-billion dollar line right through my piece of happiness? Well, you just drive up my land value as a point of connection between two metroplex areas. Either my land is worth absurd amounts of money, or your project isn’t worth completing. Make me a compelling offer or GO AROUND.

    Especially considering that Waikato isn’t all that intense. Racing track is a ‘this would be nice’ project. Not a ‘this is critical’ project.

  2. Afewknowthetruth says:

    To expect politicians to actually do what they say they will do whilst campaigning for votes is to exhibit extraordinary naivety.

    Betrayal is the byword of the age we live in.

  3. Helena says:

    Bullet, betrayal, bribe. Hmm, do I have that in the right order?

  4. mary_a says:

    Yep, I’d say this could have been Winston’s bottom line (or one of them), during negotiations.

    Horse racing encourages gambling, a blight which causes huge problems in communities. Then there is the animal abuse involved.

    Very disappointing, not to mention disturbing, that this big monied industry is being supported by government, something I did not vote Labour in to do, not when far to many Kiwi families are living in impoverished conditions, desperate for assistance to help them survive! Then there is Health and Education and Police which need more money to improve services. Priorities first please.

    An all weather race track indeed! WTF!!!

    • Sam Sam says:

      For ten million dollars they kept part of the deal secrete? I don’t think so.

      It’s probably got something to do with power sharing post baby bump. But that’s speculation.

      So far the coalition government has whacked the opposition over the head with Defence issues, Finance, Statistics, Climate Change and TPPA. And some other stuff but this is the stuff that makes the news. So expect the National Party to eat it over the next year. Just eat it.

      On the other hand Jacinda will get max media coverage and her polls boost more. If the Coalition Government is to remain strong then Labour is going to have to give its support parties some clean air.

  5. Historian Pete says:

    This is indicative of the values of the New Zealand First Party. And then we have the signing off of the TPP by Labour . The onus is now on the Green Party to push harder for policies that actually will benefit those who are most in need. If this keeps up I am going to be swinging from being a Labour voter to the Green Party. And I won’t be the only one !

  6. Confused says:

    But the esteemed leader of this very blog has been saying ever since the election that this government is revolutionary progressive and that any day know Winston Peters is going to rip off his T-Shirt to show a Rage Against the Machine t-shirt and Che Geuvaras face tattooed on his arm?

  7. Marc says:

    Come on, Frank, there is NO more homelessness, the government led by Jacinda Dear is now popular with MSM, because she will have a BABY soon. Whatever else happens, that is at best of secondary concern.

    Child poverty, homelessness, people struggling on low pay or benefits, or unable to find suitable housing, those matters are NOT important anymore, they are thus more or less ‘resolved’, in the public perception, as the MSM are waiting for BABY ARDERN.

  8. Marc says:

    Labour signed up with NZ or ahem Winston First, so they need to consider his interests, and without Winston, they would simply NOT be in government. The equation is simple, and the polls, see Newshub tonight, the Sleepy Hobbits just love Jacinda and Baby to come, no matter what else happens.

    Have a beer and relax, that is what most here do, they could not care less about racing industry, child poverty or what else there is, as long as it is not in their face.

    Welcome to NZ Aotearoa 2018, we are NO better than USA and other so called ‘developed’ countries, having all nothing better than “organised insanity”, watch the climate action space for that also, all is ‘well’, according to most. Do not complain, go to the beach, and buy more ice cream, problems solved.

  9. let me be frank says:

    “Today [28 January] Racing Minister Winston Peters apparently promised an all weather track at the cost of $10 million (double it for starters) and either promised or called for tax breaks because the industry (breeding in particular) brings in so much money.”

    Think someone forgot to add a zero or so

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/97256364/costing-christchurchs-field-of-dreams-why-half-a-billion-for-a-stadium

  10. countryboy says:

    The thing that makes me roll my eyes is, well my eye muscles I suppose, so yes, that. But the OTHER thing that makes me roll my eyes is that there are still many that think the Suit Fungus that is peters is bonafide. Like hair oil. You can’t come away from peters without wanting a shower and a change of clothes. Who’d a thought that lying stunted a fellow?

    Peters is an important cog in the dysfunctional wheel that was the local chapter of the Global rise of neo liberalism.

    He’s the guy who appears to get things done when nothing gets done at all. Unless, of course, you call protecting those who fucked us over, ripped us off, ruined our country and most of us along with it by using clever, Machiavellian logical fallacies is ‘getting things done’.

    ‘Agri-business’ @ Frank Macskasy? Please clarify?
    Surely, you don’t mean the dirty, filthy farmer do you?

    If I build a block of flats on a piece of land that was once used to grow food? Is that not an agri-business? Or do you mean cowsploiters who’ve sucked all the water out of Canterbury’s aquifers, and now Ch Ch has to chlorinate its water?
    You know who’s behind that @ Frank Macskasy? It’s not farmers. It’s not their animals. It’s not clever chickens with an evil streak. It’s not aliens with a perverse sense of humour. It’s neither Dot Nor Dick down in the Darfield Dairy.
    It’s the BANKS @ Frank Macskasy. They rule the roost. They push the agenda.
    The Banks are directly responsible for destroying holistic and sustainable agriculture and in so doing are burning down our planet. The only one we have.

  11. LeGrandeFromage says:

    I wonder how many donations he’s received from the same sources he’s now treating with such generosity… with other peoples money of course.

    Still…. is anybody even remotely surprised?

    Other than the sainted Jacinda of course… because she’d never stoop to such seeming comical corruption.

    • I wonder how many donations he’s received from the same sources he’s now treating with such generosity… with other peoples money of course.

      Interesting point, LeGrandeFromage. A closer look at NZ First’s declaration of donations for last year, and the next 2020 election might be helpful.

  12. Castro says:

    There’s going to be civil war in No Zealand, and “we” are sleepwalking straight into it. Honesty is a virtue, but nobody wants to hear the truth 🙂

  13. Observer Tokoroa says:

    The caustic abuse poured on Jacinda Ardern (and her baby), indicates that she is a real political threat to the wealthy thugs we call the national party and their deeply low IQ followers.

  14. Priss says:

    How this got past Labour’s strategists is beyond me. After 9 years berating the Natzis for their rank corporate welfarism, this govt is now prepared to do the same thing??

    If the racing industry can’t stand on it’s own feet, it should go. I don’t want MY taxes spent on this activity.

    Thank you Frank for highlighting this.

  15. Tamati Tautuhi says:

    The Government strips a lot of money out of the horse racing industry, an all weather track will improve the standard of racing in the industry particularly at the times of year when we have adverse weather
    conditions ?

  16. Andrea says:

    Meanwhile, at an Auckland Harbour site near you – the Americas Cup! For millions of both ratepayers’ and tax payers’ dosh. For the pleasure of a few.

    Or in the wilds of Christchurch – a stadium! For the pleasure of some of the community.

    Or in the depths of Auckland – another stadium! For the advantage of a few. (We aren’t all cricket or footy fans…)

    Winston Peters is Minister for Racing. He’s doing his job for an export industry. If he’s canny – perhaps he can get additional funds from the Middle East, or America, or Europe. You know; places where the buyers are.

    This is not a temporary marquee, is it? It’ll be around for a while. So long as the footy folk don’t get attached to it, it could be used for other purposes – even Mystery Creek events when the weather is inevitably poor.

    Greasing the steps to gaining more housing in a big hurry is simply going to lead to the usual Kiwi rorts. More leaky homes, anyone?

  17. […] blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 31 January […]