The ATC is actually Not-for-Profit !
It should be noted above all else, that the Australian Turf Club is a not for profit organisation “established for the encouragement of horse racing, and other incidental related purposes and to carry on any other activity which is calculated directly or indirectly to enhance or further the interests of registered horse racing” according to their Constitution . Their Charter certainly does not include residential property development and so it shouldn’t, nor should be there a need to maximise the profit on the disposal of any “surplus land”. The thoroughbred racing industry is already extremely lucrative and projects should be funded by their ordinary activities or borrowings against their existing assets. Any surplus assets should simply be donated to other not for profit organisations or otherwise returned to the people of NSW, such is the “winding up” clause in their Constitution. Is it appropriate then that the ATC should be allowed to sell it all before that happens ?
How was Canterbury Park acquired in the first place and was it actually purchased and at a fair price?
Following the excellent work of the now Professor Wayne Peak in his PhD thesis ” unregistered Proprietary Horse Racing in Sydney 1888-1942“, it is evident that the original purchase of Canterbury Park (and many other privately owned courses in Sydney for that matter) by the Sydney Turf Club in 1943, did not just take advantage of the distressed state of independent race clubs at the end of WW2 but actually had a big hand in engineered it in the first place. The new legislation at the end of WW2 and the distressed state of the current owners ensured these Courses were acquired on such favourable terms that that no private company could ever replicate such a deal. In short the State government at the time took away their licenses to operate, took advantage of the fact thee course were in very poor condition and the investor had suffered many years of little or no income from owning them. It is no wonder these distressed owners & investors were more than willing to offload them at any price and the newly formed, government backed STC was there to pick up the pieces without any other competition and for a song !
The $174 million Merger incentive
According to the book “THE ESSENTIAL CLUB a history of the Sydney Turf Club 1943-2011 ” by Gary Lester, the Hon. Kevin Greene, Labor Minister for Gaming and Racing sealed the up to then unseal-able deal to entice the STC to merge with the AJC to form the ATC by way of a $174 million injection of funds as a non-repayable loan. The money was mostly aimed to prop up the AJC balance sheet to the tune of $150 million, and the STC, who were up to then in good financial shape, were granted the extra $24 Million for new projects.
What of all the other public money used to support the Racing industry over the years ?
“There has been a long standing practice since before the privatisation of the TAB to provide infrastructure to race clubs by what are termed “Interest Free Interminable Loans” (IFIL). The rationale for this funding mechanism is that the loan is repayable if a race club sells its assets and ceases to conduct racing.” Quote from “Three Year Statutory Review of the Australian Jockey and Sydney Turf Clubs Merger Act 2070” page 54. I think that says it all, there will be hundreds of millions of dollars given as IFIL’s that the public will never get back, surely the hand back of Canterbury Park to the people should be enough to call it even?