THE dream of Australian Turf Club chairman John Cornish of high-rise development along the High St side of Randwick racecourse to provide funding for the racing industry is over.
It was skittled by Racing Minister George Souris in a press release last Tuesday when announcing amendments to legislation regarding the appointment of new trustees for the track.
In part Souris said: ‘‘ The amendments will provide an appropriate level of control over any future commercial uses of the lands to ensure they be used principally as a racecourse.’’
Bang, there go the plans in one swoop. Can you blame the minister? Seriously, who thought a state government, whether it be Labor or Liberal, was ever going to allow high-rise development on Crown land?
What would have come next? Perhaps approval for the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust to develop blocks of flats on Moore Park or approval for a shopping centre in Centennial Park? CORNISH is in a difficult period of his tenure as, whether he believes it or not, there is discontent among members, particularly those on the Sydney Turf Club side of the merger.
The thinking seems to be that part of the committee is worried about the building of the two new stands at Royal Randwick and nothing else.
The building of the new stands should be easy. Kevin Greene, the previous Labor sports minister, made available funds of $150 million so that is the hard part over.
One committeeman can be put in charge of the building while the chairman and the rest of the committee get moving on more pressing issues.
What is being done to arrest the decline of bookmakers and attendances at the track, what is the business plan to maintain prizemoney if racing loses its upcoming High Court case against the corporate bookies, where does the club stand on the pressing issue of TV rights?
The word from Macquarie St is the minister is pushing to have his Hunter Valley mate John Messara join the committee.
Souris needs to be careful that his job is to regulate racing not to run it, but, in the present climate, co-opting Messara might not be a bad thing, particularly if rumours are correct Mark McInnes is finding it hard to juggle his time on the committee with the pressures of running Solomon Lew’s Premier Retail group in this trying time for the shopping industry.