Betting Tax Legislation Amendment Bill 2015

Dr HUGH McDERMOTT (Prospect) [6.01 p.m.]: I support the Betting Tax Legislation Amendment Bill 2015. The Opposition is pleased to support the gradual reduction in betting tax from the New South Wales racing industry, which is very important to New South Wales and especially to Western Sydney. Many people are employed in the industry in places such as Rouse Hill in Western Sydney and further out in Windsor where horse trainers and others work. In addition, thousands of people enjoy the sport and support it daily through their TABs, clubs and other places. A reduction in the tax rate will greatly benefit the people of Western Sydney.

I acknowledge the Leader of the Opposition, who spoke in great detail about Labor's policy to reduce betting tax. It was great to host the Leader of the Opposition in the Prospect electorate on Melbourne Cup day. We spent the morning not talking about the Melbourne Cup but about the way in which this Government has failed the people of Western Sydney. Those failings include the train timetable changes, the lack of infrastructure in Toongabbie and Pendle Hill, and the Government's lack of investment in our schools that has led, for example, to power surges and blackouts at Girraween High School. However, Melbourne Cup day was a great day. It was good to see local people in our TABs and clubs watching the race.

The Opposition believes that this simple tax reform will bring more jobs, particularly to regional areas, and will help many people. Consistency between different State taxes is a good thing; however, the reduction in tax should be paid directly to Racing NSW and to a trust fund managed by the Secretary of the Department of Justice on behalf of Greyhound Racing NSW until issues in the greyhound racing industry are resolved. Everyone has been shocked by what has happened in the greyhound racing industry and the horrific things that have been done to those poor animals. However, it is a major industry in New South Wales. It is also a working class industry. Many punters who bet on the dogs are from working class areas. When I was a union official in Newcastle a number of unions supported the industry and many officials trained dogs because it was a key part of the recreation of Newcastle steelworkers. I know that was also the case in Wollongong and manufacturing areas in Western Sydney.

Labor recognises that the New South Wales racing industry generates approximately $3.3 billion per year and more than 50,000 jobs are associated with it. That is why it is so important that this reform be put in place. Western Sydney is second only to the Hunter in the amount of economic activity that is linked directly to racing. There may be 50,000 jobs in the industry throughout New South Wales, but tenfold that amount of people enjoy all forms of racing. New South Wales has the highest rate of racing tax. It is around 2.5 times higher than Victoria and that is a real concern. It has caused our industry to lag behind. Breeders, trainers and others face a real challenge to compete interstate when our tax rate is so different. The Labor Party made an election promise to reduce racing tax and that promise must be honoured. Labor's plan is better than the Government's plan because, quite simply, it would reduce the tax at a much faster rate and provide a greater benefit to the industry. Labor's plan would inject $35 million into the economy by 30 June 2016 as opposed to the $19 million that would be generated under the Government's plan. The Opposition will put forward amendments to that effect. I support the bill.

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