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 New Zealand Gallops News 
Thursday, May 11 2017

New Minister of Racing David Bennett hopesto make the most of the short time he has with his new portfolio before this year's election.

Bennett was handed his new role in Prime Minister Bill English's reshuffle of portfolios last month.

The Hamilton East electorate MP took over the racing minister's job after Nathan Guy vacated the portfolio.

Bennett previously picked up the veterans' affairs and food safety portfolios in December's ministerial shuffling.

Bennett steps into the racing fold at a time when the industry has been waiting patiently for the Racing Act to be amended to boost industry coffers.

Racing bosses are relying on the amendment to capture tax from overseas betting agencies which are offering New Zealand racing as a betting product without paying for it.

In March, then minister Guy unveiled plans for the Act's amendment which would
tax those agencies and said
the legislation would be put before Parliament as soon as possible.

He said a working group estimated in 2015 the lack of legislation cost New Zealand racing and sports organisations $45million in lost revenue.

Since taking over the racing portfolio, Bennett has confirmed the legislation is still being drafted.

While the industry has been waiting for years to see the Act's amendment before Parliament, Bennett hopes that wait could be over before this year's election on September 23.

''At the moment it is getting drafted up and we are hoping to get the first reading done before Parliament rises before the election.

''I think at the moment people just want to get it done.''

If the drafted legislation is able to be read in Parliament before the election, Bennett thinks the industry should have a good indication of its potential progress.

''Once you get it to first reading stage it is generally a pretty good idea of where the Bill could go in the end.''

The minister does not anticipate it will encounter too many challenges and he is hopeful other parties will help get it through.

''I think you probably find there will be pretty broad agreement between the political parties.

''Certainly, we want to work with the other political parties. I think it's vital that we do so.

''There are other parties that have shown a strong interest in racing over the years and we want to make sure we can work together for the best interests of the industry.''

Bennett is enjoying his time in the new role and said that growing up and being based in Waikato, a racing stronghold, meant he had met many people involved in the racing industry.

He had also met a number of racing figures through his work as the Hamilton East MP, he said.

Bennett also has a strong background in the industry through his parents, Allister and Mary Bennett.

''We have always had a family involvement in the racing industry, so that has meant I have known a few people in the industry already.''

''Dad was the president of the Te Awamutu Harness Racing club, so we grew up with horses around us.''

Posted by: Jonny Turner - ODT AT 11:12 am   |  Permalink   |  Email