It’s Fair Dinkum, this Breeding

It’s Fair Dinkum, this Breeding

“It is a fair dinkum, very serious business and industry,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison when opening a Thoroughbred Breeders Australia and Parliamentary Friends of Primary Producers gathering at Parliament House Canberra, and was joined by fellow Members of Parliament.

The Prime Minister declared that horse racing was a crucial part of Australian culture. Racing was synonymous with the identity of Australians, pledging to help ensure it remained a crucial part of the country’s fabric with ongoing drought support.

“It is one that provides significant economic and employment opportunities especially for rural and regional Australia,” stated The Prime Minister. “This is a very big deal when it comes to the livelihoods and lifestyle of Australians.

The Australian thoroughbred breeding industry is the second largest in the world, with an interim economic report showing breeding alone sustained almost 9,500 jobs across Australia. The racing industry contributes over $8.5 billion to the national economy and provide some 69,000 full time jobs.

Hunter MP, and Shadow Agriculture Minister and co-convenor of the Parliamentary Friends of Primary Producers, Joel Fitzgibbon said the event had continued its history of reminding us the racing industry begins on a farm.

“An industry worth itself much more than $1 billion to our economy and a thoroughbred breeding industry that sustains about 10,000 people across the country – that’s what we want you to be thinking about tonight.”

“Next time you’re at Randwick, Flemington or Moonee Valley think about where it all begins,” said Mr Fitzgibbon who was happy to claim the association with Winx, who was bred at Coolmore Stud in his Hunter Valley electorate.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who has Flemington and Moonee Valley in his electorate, said his side of politics heard the industry “loud and clear” on issues like drought relief and labour shortages.

“I understand that in this industry for a small number of people we need to bring in people from overseas,” the Labor leader said. “We don’t have the skills here, we don’t have the people here that we need to have a visa system that brings people in.”

Mr Shorten noted that racing is a great industry that couldn’t be taken for granted, noting the importance of farming and racehorse ownership.

Deputy Prime Minister and keen racing fan Michael McCormack attended, along with Deputy Nationals Leader Bridget McKenzie, Agriculture Minister David Littleproud and Special Drought Envoy Barnaby Joyce, Labor senator Anthony Chisholm and Liberal MPs Tony Pasin, Warren Entsch and Nicole Flint also were at the event.

Chief Government Whip Nola Marino and co-convenor of the Parliamentary Friends of Primary Producers said the bipartisan event united politicians. “This industry is really, really, important, employing 69,000 people. All the stud breeders around this room, you know what you mean to rural and regional Australia.”

Winx’s co-owners Debbie Kepitis and Peter Tighe were the function’s star attractions, alongside the champion mare’s three Cox Plate trophy’s, as she shoots for a record fourth Cox Plate and 29 consecutive race win.

Mrs Kepitis’s famous Ingham family raced the champion Lonhro, before the Australian-bred Winx took the world by storm. “Lonhro was bred here. But nothing makes me more proud than it’s an Australian product and also to think that I’ve got a better one than my dad and uncle – and my dad’s jealous.”

Melbourne Cup winning jockey and now trainer Michelle Payne, reflected on her stardom aboard Prince of Penzance. “The love of the animal and growing up with them, learning to work with them and building that association is what I absolutely love about the industry,” she said.

TBA chief executive Tom Reilly expressed “We come to parliament house to talk about breeding and share the industry’s story, and tonight we had all sides of politics line up to pledge their support.”

“It is testament to the fact that breeding and racing are truly part of the fabric of Australian society that so many politicians are here tonight,” with Prime Minister Morrison saluting “here’s cheers to the racing industry” in lifting his limited edition Winx Carlton Draft beer.

By Bernard Kenny