Report by CEO Peter McGauran
TBA is active in representing the industry on several issues of vital importance to breeders. This involves sustained engagement with Federal and State Government Ministers and Officials on issues such as AQIS fees and quarantine facilities, new breeding investment tax laws, the encroachment of coal mines in the Hunter Valley and EI vaccination.
Breeders’ Contribution to Racehorse Ownership study
TBA has now released the first-ever comprehensive study into the level of breeders’ ownership of racehorses. The findings reveal a level of racehorse ownership far in excess of previous estimates with 84% of breeders owning wholly or in partnership 63% of racehorses in work. This translates into approximately $250m in training fees paid by breeders each year. These are remarkable figures and will end once and for all the notion that breeders take more from racing than they give. Governments, racing authorities and other decision-makers have received copies of the report and TBA will be utilising its findings to ensure breeders’ views are fully taken into account in future decisions affecting the racing industry. The full report can be accessed at www.tbaus.com/newsitem?id=137
Following legal action in the Federal Court challenging the Australian Stud Book’s rules relating to Artificial Insemination (AI), TBA has confirmed its opposition to the practice of AI, and has successfully applied to join the case as a party. The action has been brought by Mr Bruce McHugh persuant to the provisions of the Trade Practices Act alleging that the rules are a restraint of trade. The outcome of the case will largely depend on whether or not the non registration of AI horses lessens competition and this will involve a great deal of expert analysis and evidence from economists and industry representatives which TBA is well placed to provide. The case has been listed for a six week hearing in August, 2011.
Vaccination against Equine Influenza
TBA has prepared a scientific and economic case for Equine Influenza (EI) vaccination and believes that vaccination for Thoroughbreds is essential to enable the movement of horses for breeding and racing in the event of another EI outbreak. TBA has presented the case for vaccination to Ministers and Officials in all States and the Commonwealth. TBA welcomes the recent announcement by the Federal Minister for Agriculture, Tony Burke, that the Commonwealth would support voluntary EI vaccination. Such vaccination would allow Thoroughbred horses to move during any future EI outbreak enabling the continuation of racing and breeding. However, Minister Burke’s decision is contingent upon the horse industry as a whole agreeing to the introduction of a horse disease levy under a signed Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA) whereby Government and industry would share the costs of eradication. Every livestock industry other than the horse industry has a signed EADRA. Many of the pleasure horse sectors oppose an EADRA as they do not wish to pay a levy should a disease break out in the horse population. TBA and the Australian Racing Board have made a joint submission to the current Senate Enquiry into EADRA in support of a horse disease levy. TBA’s submission is that any levy imposed under EADRA should be as broadly based as possible so that the financial responsibility falls on the majority of horse owners not just a few.
The reporting date of the Senate Enquiry is 30 August 2010 and the ARB/TBA submission is available at at
The Federal Government announced in the May 2009 budget a tightening of the deductibility of breeding losses against non-breeding income for persons earning more than $250,000. If unchanged, the proposal would undoubtedly deter some individuals from investing in our industry. With the assistance of prominent taxation advisors, TBA lodged a submission with the Commonwealth Treasury in July 2009 highlighting the worst aspects of the legislation and seeking amendments to the draft tax legislation. TBA also gave evidence before the Senate Economics Committee at its Melbourne public hearings in October 2009. The net effect of the lobbying by TBA and the National Farmers Federation (NFF) was to ameliorate the worst impacts of the legislation which has now passed into law. It allows for the Tax Commissioner’s discretion to provide relief from these rules in certain circumstances, notwithstanding taxable income. These are:
Events outside the control of the operator have prevented the activity from meeting one of the tests or returning a profit. This may include bushfires, drought or other natural disaster; or
Because of the nature of the business activity, there is a period of time before it can pass one of the tests or make a profit. This lag period is due to the nature of the business activity.
An application under these discretionary powers has already been made and has been successful. TBA will continue to monitor the situation and lobby the Government as necessary.
Hunter Valley Coal Mining
The Hunter Valley Thoroughbred industry is fighting the rapid incursion of mining into prime breeding country. The future of the Hunter Valley is an issue of national importance to the Australian industry and TBA has been working with The Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association (HTBA) and affected studs to formulate a strategy to counter the push by the mining companies. The HTBA and major studs have ownership of the issue and have employed a project manager to act on their behalf with the full co-operation and support of TBA.
In May, the NSW Government announced that the Bickham open-cut mine in the Upper Hunter would not go ahead. The mine plan was blocked because of the threat it posed to the region’s thoroughbred industry and risks of water contamination. NSW Premier Keneally said, “This decision gives the state’s thoroughbred industry the increased certainty it needs to continue to harness the dynamic global market, of which it is a leader. We will not jeopardise the growth of this important Australian export industry. Furthermore, this mine is simply not compatible with the unique rural characteristics of this locality, including the horse-breeding industry.”
Halting the Bickham mine – whilst an unprecedented victory for any agriculturally based industry – is only the first step in achieving sustainable long term land management across the Upper Hunter Valley. Read more at www.htba.com.au
Wagering - National Horse Racing Alliance
TBA has participated in a group of racing industry participants known as the National Horse Racing Alliance (NHRA), which represents a large number of owners, trainers, breeders, bloodstock agents and organisations.
Since forming in late 2009, NHRA has argued that future investment and employment in the racing industry is largely dependent on wagering operators paying an appropriate product fee based on betting turnover rather than gross profit. The NHRA has been formed to give industry participants a national voice and influence on issues affecting their livelihoods.
The inaugural members of the NHRA include Thoroughbred Racehorse Owners Association (TROA), NSW Trainers Association (NSWTA), Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA), Inglis, Magic Millions and the Federation of Bloodstock Agents Australia (FBAA). TBA believes that racing revenue issues are of vital concern to breeders and have major implications for the future viability of the breeding industry.
In December 2009 in both its oral and written submissions to the Productivity Commission, the NHRA highlighted the need for certainty based on a fair return to those trainers, owners, jockeys, strappers, farriers, transport drivers, breeders and numerous others who produce the racing product. A product fee based on anything other than turnover was too great a risk and provided unreasonable levels of uncertainty.
Important Risk Assessment (IRA)
The Federal Government undertook an import risk assessment (IRA) for imported horses throughout 2008-2009. TBA commissioned leading scientists to examine the draft IRA to ensure that the quarantine system was in no way weakened whilst the efficiency of the international trade in horses was maintained. The scientists largely endorsed the draft IRA and recommended only a couple of minor changes to the protocols surrounding some diseases. TBA made a submission to this effect to Biosecurity Australia in the period allowed for public comments. Biosecurity Australia released the final IRA in March bringing certainty and transparency to import procedures and requirements.
Federal Membership Campaign
TBA has considered at length the need to increase its membership in order to improve its representation of the interests of Australia’s 8,500 breeders regardless of their size or role in the industry. This is especially important when engaging with government, racing authorities and other decision-makers. To date, some 2,700 breeders have taken up TBA’s offer of Associate Membership. We seek the involvement of each and every breeder on issues that will materially affect their commercial and animal husbandry interests. In conjunction, TBA state organisations have recently undertaken membership drives based on services that they are able to offer members in their own state. Whilst this is ongoing and the necessary work of a state based organisation, TBA has adopted a policy of offering Associate Membership to all breeders without cost. Application forms are available online at www.tbaus.com or from the TBA office.
Aushorse Marketing Pty Ltd
Aushorse Marketing is the promotional and marketing subsidiary company of TBA, charged with generically promoting the Australian Thoroughbred in key overseas markets. Australia has a world leading breeding industry widely known for producing race winners at all levels around the globe and these glowing results support Aushorse’s aim to increase the number of overseas buyers at our sales. Last year, Australia exported some 2,500 horses for an income of approximately $135m. This benefits many small, medium and large breeders in all States and is essential to the overall viability of Australia’s breeding industry.
Within Australia, Aushorse is strongly focused on introducing new owners to the fun and excitement of horse ownership through strategic partnerships with race clubs and other stakeholders including Magic Millions and Inglis.
Aushorse operates from an office shared with TBA at Randwick racecourse.
On these or any other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me at any time. I would welcome your views and assistance. TBA is a grass roots industry body that exists only to serve the interests of breeders regardless of size or location. Have your say and contact us on the details below.
CEO Thoroughbred Breeders Australia