Parliament yesterday ended its Select Committee hearings on Winston Peters’ racing reform legislation with more protests about the legislation’s proposal to close the Dargaville Racing Club. Peters grew up near Dargaville and went to school there and recently boasted of his connections to the area during a Provincial Growth Fund announcement in the town. He advised his audience that they should ensure the voice of Northland, “and, dare I say it, the provinces is heard every time critical decisions are made.”
Unfortunately, the Mayor of Kaipara District Council, Jason Smith, told the Select Committee that was precisely what had not happened over the proposal to close the race-course. No one locally had been consulted about the proposal to close the course, sell the land and give the profits to the racing industry. The matter is particularly awkward for NZ First because Dargaville is a stronghold for their vote in the Northland electorate; a must-win for Shane Jones to give the party a good chance of getting back to Parliament.
But as RadioNZ has recently revealed, the NZ First Foundation is also the recipient of substantial donations from a number of prominent figures in the horse racing industry. The industry generally supports the reform proposals. Nevertheless, the outcry from Dargaville is strong. In an open letter to Peters, the chair of the Dargaville Racing Club, Tim Antonio said “no club, and no person, in any industry, in any town or city should live in fear of the seizure of their assets by the state. “It’s not the Kiwi way. “Maybe in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe; maybe in Pol Pot’s Cambodia but not in New Zealand, under a democratically elected government.”
Yep Peters and the Government have proposed that the state seize the asset of local racing clubs. This is good for his wealthy racing elite donors but basically theft from local provincial clubs.