Don’t sell the TAB – MLA pleads

MURRAY-WELLINGTON MLA Murray Cowper wants Racing and Gaming Minister Colin Holt to commission an independent economic impact study to determine all the consequences of selling the TAB to the WA racing industry.

Mr Cowper predicted a TAB sale would have devastating consequences for the racing, training and breeding industries in WA, particularly in country areas.

He said the full measure of damage needed to be formally identified before there was any further discussion of a TAB sale.

�These sections of the industry have enjoyed a unique stability since the TAB was introduced by the Brand Government in 1961, with trainers, breeders, country clubs and WA all benefitting as the new agency replaced 206 licensed off-course bookmakers, �� he said.

�We need to know the real cost and likely disadvantages of disposing of a business that has successfully underwritten an entire industry for more than 50 years, as well as generating hundreds of millions of dollars for its owners – the taxpayers of WA.

�The State Government must now determine if it is prepared to sacrifice TAB-funded standards that are the envy of other Australian States, by bowing to a federal directive to sell the TAB.

�Country racing clubs, trainers and horse and dog breeders and owners share my concern that Minister Holt and his National colleagues have shifted their stance on the TAB from opposition to support for a sale, since he took over the portfolio.�

Mr Cowper said his Liberal colleagues in South Australia had warned that a SA decision to sell off its TAB had virtually destroyed country racing, and seriously eroded the breeding and training industries.

�We need to ensure that the same thing does not happen in WA, and we need to know the most likely consequences to our industry of selling the TAB.