HUNTER Valley owners, breeders and trainers are rallying behind a 14-day ‘‘no-show’’ protest over TAB turnover distribution, which could bring greyhound racing in NSW to a standstill.
The Our Fair Share group has been lobbying the NSW government to revisit a 99-year inter-code agreement signed in 1997, which determines the breakdown of crucial funding from the TAB to greyhounds, gallops and harness racing.
Under the agreement, greyhounds receive 13 per cent, harness racing 17 per cent and thoroughbreds 70 per cent.
However, greyhound racing now generates almost 21 per cent of TAB turnover, while the other codes’ contributions have dropped.
The independent Cameron Report in 2008, which examined wagering and the sustainability of the NSW racing industry, called for a distribution scheme that reflected the performance of each code, but the state government has not moved on the key recommendations.
Owner-trainer Bob Whitelaw, the Newcastle representative of the Our Fair Share group, said the industry in NSW was facing certain doom because of rising costs and the stunted flow of TAB funding.
Whitelaw, who has been in the industry for 40 years and runs a breaking-in and education facility at Abernethy, said the inter-code agreement and pressures of inflation were driving people out of greyhound racing.
‘‘It’s just ridiculous,’’ Whitelaw said.
‘‘It basically means here I am working 21 hours a day for 13 hours’ pay … for another 99 years.’’
From Monday, participants supporting the Our Fair Share campaign will not nominate their dogs for NSW meetings for the following 14-day period.
Whitelaw said the group had an indication that 86per cent of trainers in the Hunter Region were backing the protest, which will affect the December 1 meeting at The Gardens in Birmingham Gardens.
The Our Fair Share group held information sessions at Cessnock and the Central Coast over the past month, which attracted more than 200 people, but stepped up their campaign yesterday at the Maitland meeting.
Swan Bay trainer Charlie Lamb, who will race his team in Melbourne during the no-show period, handed out information leaflets on the protest to participants at Maitland Showground.
‘‘We shouldn’t have to do this, but it’s not right what’s happening.
‘‘There’s not much future in the industry if they don’t fix this.
‘‘The prize money’s not going to increase and they’ll just put on C-grade races.
‘‘We’ll be racing for ribbons,’’ he said.
PROTEST: Alan Proctor and Charlie Lamb distributed flyers at the Maitland Showground. Picture: Marina Neil