Keane not the only person who hates the Melbourne Cup

Rhonda Kerr writes: Re. “Yes, I hate the Cup — and for good reason” (yesterday). Thanks for the very refreshing article. In addition the racing industry in Western Australia received $7.69 million in the 2014-15 budget, down from the 2013-14 estimated actual of $ 9.09 million and the actual for 2012-13 of $7.5 million. While the subsides to gambling and betting agencies and bookmakers of $99.2 million ( an increase on the actuals for the last 2 years) may seem excessive, it may be the operating costs of the TAB which is state government owned in WA. Otherwise the cuts to school funding might seem a bit mean.

I would also say there is a cost to the federal budget and taxpayers as I believe there is not income tax charged on the winnings of horse races. I do not gamble so cannot be entirely sure of this. Also, despite very difficult budget conditions in WA with  large government debt, the Minister For Sport and Recreation; Racing And Gaming, Terry Waldron was able to offer an additional  $791,190 allocated to eight race clubs across WA for infrastructure works.

Anonymous writes: My compliments on your riposte to the Cup and the racing industry. I had a part time job at a racetrack while at uni and it taught me two things: 1. Horse racing is cruel  2. Betting is a mug’s game. These days horse racing really is on borrowed time. People who actually like riding do equestrian, not racing. With a decline in betting revenue the industry should die.  It pays very low wages, has high rates of injury, and relies on addicted gamblers, most now old men.

I have a suggestion for an issue you may care to pursue.  Racetracks are often on valuable land, usually acquired from government years ago on too generous terms.  Recently the Cheltenham racecourse was redeveloped into housing near Woodville.  In terms of providing affordable housing near the city and public transport for young people I think this was a good idea.  But the interesting thing is what happened to the money for the land?  I understand that the State paid the racecourse owner, the SAJC in full (millions of dollars) for the land.  You should investigate what the SAJC did with the money.  Suffice to say, it was not a long term plan for an industry that badly needs to think about an exit strategy for its many aging participants.

Serco responds to hospital allegations

A Serco spokesperson writes: Re. “Serco and Fiona Stanley Hospital” (yesterday). Serco is dedicated to equal opportunities and having a diverse workforce. We are confident that the Serco team at Fiona Stanley Hospital is representative of the local community. From a patient safety perspective, employees working at the new Fiona Stanley Hospital need to speak and read sufficient English for their role to be able to perform their job to a high standard. In Serco’s Sterilising Service for example, where we recently hired 14 people, 10 different nationalities were represented. Eight of these people originally came from countries where English is not the first language but all of whom speak proficient English. Members of the team recruited by Serco to work at Fiona Stanley Hospital are employed because they are caring and committed to providing excellent services to patients.

On the future of the Palmer United Party

Peter Matters writes: Re. “The decline — and fall? — of the Palmer United Party” (Monday). If Clive Palmer decides to follow one single line and blocks every government attempt at legislation, he will a) regain his popularity, and b) eventually leave Abbott no option other than a double dissolution, thereby pleasing everybody other than a dyed in the wool reactionary.

Peter Fray

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