Next steps for racing industry reform

  • Rt Hon Winston Peters
Deputy Prime Minister Racing

Racing Minister Winston Peters says the Government will introduce two new pieces of legislation this year to revitalise the domestic racing industry.

Cabinet this week considered its response to the ‘Messara Review of the Racing Industry’ as well as advice from the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on Racing.

“The New Zealand racing industry is in a state of serious decline. The Coalition Government supports the overall intent of the Messara Report and is committed to reforms. We know we have the grass, the race animals, and the people to help the industry achieve its potential,” said Mr Peters.   

“As a result, Cabinet has agreed to a stepped approach with the introduction of two Bills to amend the Racing Act 2003.”

The first Bill, due to be enacted by 1 July 2019, will put into immediate effect a transitional governance arrangement.  This Bill proposes the New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB) be reconstituted as the Racing Industry Transitional Authority (RITA) to drive the transition of the industry.

This Bill will also bring some financial relief for the industry by making offshore betting operators contribute to domestic racing and sports codes from the bets they take from New Zealanders.

“It is essential to have this transitional governance in place.  RITA will have a legislative mandate that encompasses change management as well as the current business-as-usual functions and powers of the NZRB,” said Mr Peters.

“As a result of RITA’s work the government anticipates a second racing amendment Bill to proceed later in 2019.  It will implement the remaining reforms including post-transition governance,” he said.

The Cabinet papers are being proactively released as well as the MAC interim report. They can be found here:


Note to Editors:

The racing industry is integral to the economic and social fabric of New Zealand. At a local level, racing has been an important social and community activity. The industry contributed $1.6 billion to the NZ economy in 2016/17.

In August 2018 the Messara Review of the New Zealand Racing Industry was publicly released. It confirmed the racing industry is in serious decline and has reached a tipping point. It made 17 major recommendations.

A Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) was appointed by Mr Peters to provide advice on the Messara Report and work with government officials on advice to Cabinet.  Revitalising the racing industry will lead to increased employment, exports, and a general increase in the industry’s already significant contribution to the NZ economy.

Bill No.1 will provide the Government’s first legislative response to the Messara Report. The current legislative framework for the New Zealand Racing Board does not enable the necessary changes required.

With Bill No. 1 it is proposed that the NZRB is reconstituted as RITA, with changed membership and an amended legislative mandate that encompasses change management alongside the day-to-day operations of the racing industry.

Subject to the passing of Bill No.1 it is proposed that the transition commence on 1 July 2019, with the future transition to the final industry structure to take place at a time determined by Bill No. 2.

Bill No. 1 also seeks agreement to include several proposals that address the industry’s need for supplementary revenue to ensure long-term financial sustainability.

The agreed provisions include proposals from the Racing Amendment Bill 2017 which aim to make offshore betting operators contribute to racing and sports codes from the bets they take from New Zealanders.

Bill No. 2 will proceed later in 2019 and will cover issues which will implement the remaining reforms, post-transition governance and other changes.

Further analysis of Bill No.2 is underway by officials pending decisions from RITA.