Racing minister criticism unfair, ITC not to blame
BASED on the facts, the Queensland Minister for Racing has been unfairly criticised in some recent commentaries.
Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe has been blamed for delays in approving the second stage of the necessary Gold Coast Turf Club infrastructure expenditure, with delays and a blowout in costs on the Ipswich infrastructure project cited as a key reason.
A couple of points need to be made clear in relation to such claims.
Firstly, the Ipswich project was the last expenditure to be made among the then nine TAB clubs from the clever Industry Infrastructure Scheme set up more than a decade ago by the then Bob Bentley led Racing Queensland Control Body.
Prior to and subsequent to both Government and RQ Control Body changes in 2012, there were Industry Infrastructure Scheme spends up until 2015 made at Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Toowoomba, as well as the then non-TAB track at Beaudesert.
Ipswich Turf Club, as well as harness and greyhound codes, were those that missed out to that point.
Secondly, the approval of the latest of the Industry Infrastructure Scheme projects at Ipswich was made by then Labour Government Minister for Racing Grace Grace in March of 2017. The Racing Queensland (RQ) control body was charged with the responsibility of executing that approval.
The three years of delays and resultant cost blowouts for the Ipswich Turf Club Project have been difficult to bear for all parties, however these cannot be blamed on the current Minister for Racing who has been in the seat for two years.
It has been well documented how hard over this time the Minister has worked to prompt the RQ Control Body to complete the Ipswich Project. The responsibilities are for the State Government to approve, and the RQ Control body to execute.
No-one denies the importance of the Gold Coast Turf Club with the Magic Millions Day now the highest ranking turnover race meeting in Queensland, along with the glitter strip continuing astounding growth into a major International tourist city. Further facility development at the Gold Coast is critical for racing in Queensland.
However, surely the most pressing infrastructure issue for RQ would be to finally finish the Ipswich project - the last thoroughbred TAB track to be approved, and a project which has been three years in implementation to date.
Having said that, it must be noted that completion of the Ipswich project is getting ever closer with high hopes of a mid-2020 full completion date. Track works are 95% finished, the new jockeys, stewards, and Grange Lounge building has been transferred to ITC ownership, and new carpark and race day stalls works are underway.
Long-serving club legend
THE funeral for former Ipswich Turf Club chairman Dr Kevin Versace is on today and the wake at the Ipswich Turf Club's new Grange Lounge was fittingly the first hospitality function in that new space.
Kev Versace as he was known to his mates at the Ipswich Turf Club was highly regarded at the club where he was chairman from 1986 to 1988.
There have only been three subsequent chairmen voted to lead the club since Dr Kevin Versace's time, all with similar legendary status in Bob Bentley (five years), Dan Bowden (five years) and current chair Wayne Patch (18 years and counting).
Employed as an Ipswich Dental Practitioner, Dr. Kevin Versace was a member of the Ipswich Turf Club for a half century.
He had held the number 1 member's badge assumed after the passing of his long-time friend Dr. Kev Brennan who had taken that number following the passing of another close friend Dr Mervyn Fish a decade earlier.
The new number 1 member is Merrill Kruger from the famous Ipswich Racing Kruger family. The generation before Merrill was Perc and Ted Kruger who bred and raced the great filly Eye Liner back in the 1960s, and who were strong supporters of the Ipswich Turf Club over a long period of time.
Condolences go from all at the club to the family of Dr Kevin Versace as his contribution to the ITC is remembered.
As the current Management Committee consider media rights negotiations, Dan Bowden noted how among his achievements, Kev Versace was instrumental in bringing Sky Channel to the Ipswich racetrack during his tenure with the club all those years ago.