Racing industry faces possible job losses after hard-hitting Messara review

NZ Racing Board chief executive John Allen cannot rule out job losses, as a result of the long-awaited Messara report into the local racing industry.

But Mr Allen has assured The AM Show that the recommendations contained in the review, released on Thursday night in Hamilton, are not set in stone and need to be further investigated before they are adopted.  

Australian racing guru John Messara carried out the review and Racing Minister Winston Peters delivered the "blunt appraisal" with a warning that things needed to change dramatically.

Among 17 recommendations was a move towards outsourcing the TAB's commercial activities offshore, but Mr Allen is at pains to calm that prospect.

The NZ Racing Board currently oversees the national betting operation, as well as thoroughbred, harness and greyhound codes.  

"The TAB's going really well," he insists. "We're growing our profitability and improving our customer numbers, and we've got lots of new ideas into the future, with the launch of a new platform over the next few months.

"What we're looking at, potentially, is working more closely with an international partner.

"I think some people feel that getting scale is really important and getting access to Australian experience is really important. That's what Mr Messara has recommended, that's what the Minister will be asking us to look at and we'll certainly be doing that."

AM Show host Duncan Garner suggested the TAB was "stuffed", but Mr Allen isn't buying that.

"That's a strong word, but it's certainly got challenges," he says. "The reality is we're competing for people's leisure time and there are lots more things that people do now than they were doing before."

Mr Allen concedes the review, which also suggests closing almost half of New Zealand's 48 racecourses, may mean job losses.

"There are very few industries that can guarantee long-term employment for everybody in an age of disruption and new technology.

"As a result of these changes, New Zealand could lost their jobs, but we've got a lot of work to do and many decisions still to be made, before we get anywhere near that point."


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