NSW Government Reaffirms Funding Support

THE state government has reaffirmed its commitment to the NSW greyhound industry by declaring the remaining CPG funding is on the table.

THE state government has reaffirmed its commitment to the NSW greyhound industry by declaring the remaining $18.3 million in funding from the Capital Grants Program (CPG) will go towards making tracks safer.

In 2017, amidst sweeping reform for the industry, the then coalition government pledged $30 million in conditional capital grant funding to upgrade racetracks across the state.

Since the CPG was brought to life, $11.7 million has been allocated, with some of the more notable projects, the wildly successful $5 million redevelopment of Grafton and $1.5 million in upgrades to Richmond.

But while the remaining $18.3 million in CPG funding is assured for the industry, it won't be going towards the soon to be completed $6 million redevelopment at Taree or proposed $3 million rebuild of Lithgow.

The Office of Racing, which manages the CPG, has refused to sign off on the two projects, due to suggestions Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) failed to follow due process through the application process.

Those with knowledge of the situation have suggested that the projects commencing prior to funding being signed off on was a significant driver for the applications being spurned.

It's a position refuted by GRNSW.

Work well underway at the new Taree track

The decision has left GRNSW in the unenviable position of paying for Taree out of its own cash reserves while serious questions now hover over the future of the Lithgow project.

Slated for a $3 million rebuild to “bring it up to TAB racing standard” in the wake of the closure of Bathurst, GRNSW CEO Rob Macaulay announced this week that more conservative measures would now be undertaken.

“This project has been in for funding approval with the government for six months,” Macaulay said in an address to participants.

“Our participants in the Central West have been very patient. We've decided not to wait – whilst we continue to chase funding approval, we're going to resume TAB racing at Lithgow in the next two to three weeks. We have finished all of our kennel works and will now replace the boxes and get on with racing.”

With work to begin soon at a cost of around $300,000, it's hoped TAB racing can begin at Lithgow in about a month.

Powerbrokers at Greyhound, Welfare & Integrity Commission (GWIC) are far less optimistic.

In response to the recent controversy around the CPG funding, Minister for Gaming and Racing David Harris was staunch in his commitment.

"Funding for the remainder of the Capital Grants Program – $18.3 million – is provided for in the NSW State Budget," Minister Harris said.

"Applications need to be made in accordance with the Greyhound Racing NSW's Operating Licence and requires consultation with the Greyhound Welfare & Integrity Commission.

Racing Minister David Harris has reaffirmed his commitment to the Capital Grants Program

"The NSW Government has strict financial probity measures in place to ensure public money is spent to achieve best outcomes for the people of NSW.

"The NSW Government is committed to supporting a competitive, responsible and sustainable greyhound racing industry, with the highest standards of animal welfare."

The status of the CPG comes in the same week that Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) finalised its ‘2024 Track Safety & Welfare Strategy'.

Formulated in consultation with GWIC, the strategy blueprints the sport's overall approach to bringing all of the state's racetracks up to minimum standards by 2028.

But with significant investment required to meet these standards, and an agreement that remaining CPG funding will go into current racetrack infrastructure, the ability to financially support new projects is highly questionable.

In the past year, new projects have been proposed at Lithgow, Dapto, Orange, Goulburn and Tamworth at significant expense.

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