PATIENT: Ipswich Turf Club general manager Brett Kitching deserves to be on the receiving end of good news from the government about his redevelopment plans.
PATIENT: Ipswich Turf Club general manager Brett Kitching deserves to be on the receiving end of good news from the government about his redevelopment plans. David Nielsen

With racing infrastructure... it is certainly Ipswich’s turn

IT is definitely the Ipswich Turf Club's turn to receive a giddy up from $100 million plus of racing infrastructure funds.

The reasons are clear.

Ipswich Turf Club is the only thoroughbred TAB club in Queensland that hasn't had a cent of infrastructure funds spent on it in 25 years.

All other eight clubs have received millions of dollars. Ipswich, not a brass razoo.

The $14 million the club is seeking to make much needed upgrades to facilities relocate the Ipswich Greyhound Racing Club inside the race track with a one-turn track and is surely not too much to ask.

Plans had been drawn up in the past for the greyhound club move and promises from government had been made. The QT has reported on all of this and the issue became a political football.

The funds for what is likely to be a $14 million project would likely come from a $100 million dollar racing infrastructure fund, that was initially set up in 2010 to develop and maintain clubs that don't have the ability to do it themselves.

The money would go towards the construction of a greyhound track and a much need upgrade of facilities at the Ipswich Turf Club.

In 2008 it had been approved to do the development with a third party, but the third party fell over financially.

Then in 2010 Racing Queensland came out with a master plan, that initially also involved harness racing.

That resulted in an approval from Racing Queensland and the former Bligh Government but it did not get to treasury in time for approval.

The LNP came into power and there was approval to progress to a feasibility study which was put on hold in 2013 until Eagle Farm was redeveloped, which has only just finished resulting in racing recommencing at the track last month.

In 2015 Racing Queensland's all codes board approved the development, but then two weeks late they were dismissed in the wake of the greyhound live baiting scandal and a new interim structure was put in place.

Now there is stability in the echelons of power.

Steve Wilson has been appointed new chairman of Racing Queensland and a new board installed in the past week.

There is no point in playing the political blame game over what happened in the past.

That will achieve nothing.

Suffice to say, the great thing at this point in time is that the political will is there to get moving on this project.

Racing Minister Grace Grace has shown admirable leadership in her role and her support is crucial. Ipswich MP Jennifer Howard is also on board, as is Mayor Paul Pisasale.

Animal welfare will be enhanced, as dogs suffer far less injuries on a one-turn track.

The Ipswich Greyhound Racing Club wants and needs to move from its antiquated facility. Ipswich Turf Club wants to welcome the greyhounds and make the club a dual-code hub.

This makes financial sense. The upgrades to the turf club are also much needed.

Finally, it looks as though the Ipswich Turf Club is on the cusp of a big win. It is not before time.

General manager Brett Kitching has been patient and has stated a strong case over many years as to why the club needs to get this funding. Ipswich Greyhound Racing Club's Merv Page has also been vocal about the animal welfare benefits a move to a one-turn track will bring.



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