Without the injection of $130,400 announced this week in the state budget, Surat Diggers Race Club secretary, Margaret Neil said the southern Queensland club may not have been able to hold another meeting.
Its jockey facilities weren’t big enough and repairs were badly needed for stewards and photo towers, as well as the secretary’s office, a nearly insurmountable task for a small club with a volunteer member base.
“We do have a duty of care, even as a small club that races once a year,” Margaret said.
She, along with many other small race club members, welcomed news of the capital works program that will fund infrastructure improvements at their tracks.
Racing Minister Grace Grace announced a $6 million Country and Regional Capital Works Program, with spending across all three racing codes from all regions.
It includes $4.4 million allocated to address infrastructure needs raised through a submission process. Racing Queensland (RQ) identified a further $1.6 million of projects through an extensive review process, with a total of 113 clubs benefiting.
Twelve clubs in the Downs thoroughbred region will share $622,000, while the 17 Eastern Downs venues will receive $551,000.
Some $657,000 will go to 10 Capricornia venues and there will be $527,000 for 14 North West clubs.
The 13 Central West clubs share $313,000, Far North Queensland’s 10 club have been allocated $512,000, and 13 Leichardt venues $395,000.
Ms Grace said the program would begin to address infrastructure requirements immediately, with phase one to be completed within 18 months.
“Our clubs in country and regional areas are a key part of their local economies while also providing a strong social connection. They need to be supported and I know these projects will make a difference.”
Two transportable starting barriers will be built and shared between a number of clubs in the Central West and Downs regions, which Aramac’s Gary People’s said prevented a duplicate spend.
“A lot of them are old and wouldn’t be compliant in time, so this is a big ticket item,” he said.
Racing Queensland CEO Dr Eliot Forbes said the Country and Regional Capital Works Program was for projects under $1 million with a separate process for those over that amount.
“The process was detailed and collaborative to ensure fairness and a level playing field for all involved,” Dr Forbes said
“Racing facilities were visited across the state with interviews conducted and venue assessment reports produced.
“We also consulted with industry stakeholders regarding club and industry infrastructure requirements as well as conducting analysis of previous club infrastructure investment to identify trends.”
Following Ministerial approval of the package, RQ will undertake due diligence before proceeding with implementation.
RQ will project manage the infrastructure upgrades to ensure efficiencies of cost and scale while also maintaining regular reporting of project stages.
The fund includes a contingency amount of $500,000.
Who got what – the biggest winners:
- Surat Diggers – $130,000
- Julia Creek – $115,000
- Mount Isa – $133,417
- Kilcoy – $114,900
- Monto – $106,666
- Beaudesert – $178,550
- Rockhampton – $368,000