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Pakula: Maturity needed in spring battle

Victoria's Minister for Racing, Martin Pakula, has called for a more mature approach to the battle for the Spring Carnival spotlight but said should that not be achievable, Victoria is more than willing to stand up for itself.

Pakula questioned whether the approach that Racing New South Wales had taken, under the leadership of chief executive Peter V'landys, was in the best interests of the racing industry at large.

"Peter says, and it's been the case in the past that there's been increased wagering returns in Victoria and New South Wales as a result of competition and that may be very well right," Pakula said. "I think it was the case on Caulfield Guineas Day last year.

"But then when you move The Everest to Caulfield Cup Day, or you have a situation as we appear to have on (Victoria) Derby Day, I think that goes a little bit beyond that.

"It creates a situation that's not necessarily in the best interests of everyone, which is his stated objective. I think there's room for people to have a more mature conversation about that."

After being run on the second Saturday in October in its first two years, The Everest will this year clash with one of the Victorian spring's 'Big 3' - the $5 million Caulfield Cup - on October 19.

The Melbourne Cup, picture VRC

Two weeks later, on Victoria Derby Day, Rosehill will host the inaugural running of the $7.5m Golden Eagle, a 1500-metre race restricted to four-year-olds that has already been identified as a spring target for Arcadia Queen.

A string of other high-prizemoney races to be held in New South Wales in October and November have also recently been announced.

Pakula told RSN927's Racing Pulse that Victorian racing was open to a conversation with New South Wales on a spring program that worked for all but did not rule out an alternate course of action if that proved impossible.

"There's always room for grown-ups to have mature conversations, but you've got to have two to tango," he said.

"I suppose time will tell whether that's a conversation those north of the border are willing to have.

"If there's a desire to have Victoria with a strong presence in autumn and New South Wales to have a strong presence in spring and there's a way an adult conversation can take place about how that can be done in a way that benefits everyone, then people from New South Wales will find no more willing participant than me.

"If, on the other hand, it's just everybody to the barricades and every man for themselves, then Victoria is well placed to participate in that kind of adventure as well, and we will if we have to."

Pakula also revealed that Victoria might not be done with enhancements for the spring ahead. On Tuesday the Victoria Racing Club announced the Melbourne Cup would this year be worth a record $8 million and Pakula hinted at further announcements.

"The VRC has responded with an increase to the prizemoney for the Melbourne Cup and I think that you'll find Racing Victoria will have more to say in the next days and weeks and we'll get on and run a magnificent Spring Carnival in Victoria and New South Wales will do as it sees fit," he said.

"It'd be fair to presume that you haven't heard the last from Racing Victoria about their plans for the spring and that's a good thing."

In other news Pakula has suggested that the state's Point of Consumption tax may be increased when the policy is reviewed.

The Victorian Government announced an eight per cent POC tax for wagering and sports betting in May 2018, with the New South Wales Government revealing their own POC tax a month later at a rate two per cent higher. Both tax policies took effect from the start of this year.

"Basically the whole difference of that additional two per cent that the New South Wales Government charges punters is passed straight through to the (New South Wales) racing industry so the Government takes no revenue from that additional two per cent," Pakula told RSN927 on Thursday.

"When we set our POC at eight per cent, which was done with agreement of the (racing) industry, we said we'd review it within the first 18 months and we're going to do that.

"It's not out of the question the Point of Consumption Tax will rise and that may deliver greater revenue outcomes to the industry."

Pakula believes state governments and the racing industry must remain 'judicious' when determining the right rate of POC tax.

"You've got to be a bit judicious about that (increasing the POC tax rate) because there's a point at which if the returns to punters starts to drop off then you end up having less wagering with no great benefit at all," he added.

"We have the lowest POC of the major racing jurisdictions, which is a good result for punters but there's been some revenue consequences as a result of that."

Additional reporting Carl Do Iorio - racing.com

 

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