IT IS like a lethal grenade sitting on page 70 of the current Racing Queensland Annual Report – and, somewhat surprisingly, has to date elicited not a comment from anyone.

It reads: “Australian Tax Office issued Racing Queensland with default assessments with respect to superannuation contributions allegedly payable to certain jockeys in relation to the quarters commencing 1 July 2009 and concluding on 30 September 2014.

“Racing Queensland has lodged an objection against the default assessment and the ATO is considering the objection.”

And how much – or how many millions – are involved is a question you might well ask?

Some idea can be gained by one North Queensland jockey, who rides barely once a week and is somewhat restricted by weight. He has been told to expect ‘around $30,000’ in back payments.

The mind boggles as to what the final figure will be for all jockeys statewide. Some suggest it could be in the millions.

While the official line from the ATO is that the matter with RQ is still not settled, jockeys who joined an action undertaken by Sunshine Coast-based Vertical Super Solutions have already received one payment. One jockey is believed to be entitled to as much as $100,000 in back super and penalty interest.

Spokesman for the firm, Shane Harding, said he has 25 Queensland jockeys in his action to recoup the unpaid super. Their claims alone total $800,000.

“I have only seen a couple of notices and it seems the September 2009 quarter has been paid in full and about 10 per cent of the December 2009 quarter has been paid as well.”

Queensland Jockeys’ Association president, Glenn Prentice, said the QJA cannot be involved. Jockeys must apply to the ATO themselves.

Claims can only go back to the five-year period from September 2009 to September 2014. Eligible jockeys are entitled to up to nine per cent of race and official trial fees. Prizemoney is not included.

Harding has told his clients they should be receiving 20 quarters (five years X four quarters) of contributions – but has warned that it could take time.

“The action has not been fully settled between the ATO and RQ just yet, but I am very encouraged that the first payment has been made by RQ.

“It has been a brand new type of claim for everyone involved and we can set some legal precedence which is fantastic for the jockeys, especially those who commenced their riding careers around 2004”. 

This is yet another looming financial disaster for Racing Queensland – or the entire industry really that relies on competent administration by the control body.

However, while the current Board is not to blame in this matter, it must bear the cost.

The Eagle Farm fiasco and the delay on the Tabcorp-Tatts merger verdict is only part of the mega financial problems RQ currently faces.

The failure to deliver a verdict of the two totes is particularly sorry news.

And reading between the lines it is much to do with the ACCC which inexplicably allegedly encouraged the corporate bookmakers to make a case to oppose the merger.

It was no surprise – in fact it was expected – that Racing Victoria would voice opposition. Certainly it wouldn’t want Queensland ‘trampling into their lucrative lucerne patch.”

For in recent years, while Victoria has announced whopping stakes money increases due mainly to the Tabcorp grants, Queensland has wallowed in its wake. That they would be sharing some of those annual spoils was not – and is not – on the RV to-do list.

The hearing into the merger adjourned last Friday with an announcement that the verdict would not be released until September, which is a major disappointment for Queensland.

Most thought the merger was a formality. It would pave the way for the establishment of a National Tote, deemed essential to rival the corporate bookmakers.

These bookies have come from the UK and clearly conquered the Australian off-course gambling industry of which our racing solely relies on.

Of particular disappointment too, was part of a submission by Melbourne Racing Club executive Josh Blanksby, who told the Competition Tribunal hearing that “pubs and clubs could remove the Tabcorp (TAB) retail wagering service and rely on punters to place wagers through the telephone or on digital applications”.

Can you believe that?

It prompted the Melbourne Age to write: That concept would face stiff opposition from administrators, racing participants and the State Government given the revenue racing earns from TAB dwarfs what is received from corporate bookmakers.

Blansky (or is it blank space?) was commenting on the ambition of, the broadcast arm of Racing Victoria, to create a racing channel for hotels and clubs in competition to rival the long-standing Tabcorp-owned SKY CHANNEL service.

However,'s ambitions would not have the support of Australia's 5000-plus hoteliers. “The Australian Hotels Association supports a single provider of racing vision into retail venues,” CEO Stephen Ferguson said.

There is no argument that SKY could do with some healthy opposition or at least some fairness in its racing coverage that is dominated by NSW events.

No doubt!

But it is the merger that is an absolute necessity, especially for Queensland – in spite of what the ACCC and its corporate bookie buddies might pontificate.

But those passionate about racing – not just the gambling side of it – already fear the worst.



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