In a report in the Courier-Mail on August 13, 2017 the then racing Minister Grace Grace was quoted as saying in Parliament that, ‘I reckon I am probably one of the best Racing Ministers they (the racing industry) have ever seen in recent times. Let me tell you, we are delivering in spades.’
Just four months later, in December 2017, Grace was gone from the position of Racing Minister as Sterling Hinchliffe stepped into the Racing Minister hot-seat.
Now, after the recent state election in Queensland, it has been announced that the game of musical chairs has come full circle. Hinchliffe is gone and Grace is back in the saddle as Racing Minister … so we get another opportunity to see whether she can live up to her own hype.
Her form arguably suggests that she needed her first-up run in the job and the hope is there that she will show natural improvement.
But, in truth, she has a bit to overcome on the relationship front before even getting into the nitty-gritty of specific issues.
Most Racing Ministers in Queensland in recent times, some by their own admission, have entered the scene with so little knowledge of the racing industry, sprouting inane comments, that they quickly lost the support of the majority of racing stakeholders, thereby creating a turbulent and an arguably largely counterproductive relationship between the two parties.
Smoothing those waters will be a two-part trick, but the onus really sits on Grace’s shoulders to turn that around.
It might be something of an unwanted portfolio, but the fact is the way is open … in fact has always been open … for a Racing Minister to really make a name for themselves by absolutely aligning themselves with the industries needs and by making sure those needs are funded and catered for in a friendly timeframe … ie. not in an overly lengthy one that itself becomes a problem as has often been the case for so many years.
A Racing Minister will never be all things to all people … but they also should not be a roadblock.
There is plenty already going on in the Queensland racing scene which has gained some momentum … the Gold Coast Turf Club’s $31 million redevelopment, which the state government approved prior to winning the election, has to be moved along and the government also has to deliver on the promise of changing racing’s judicial appeal system to a more practical and acceptable format as soon as possible … just to name a few big items that are pending.
In other words, Grace has to roll her sleeves up and get out of the blocks in manner which will show her clear intent to make a positive difference to the racing industry.
If we get the … same old, same old … it won’t be good enough.
And the second part of that two-part trick.
If Grace does come to the party … and, yes, I know that a lot of people will not be holding their breath … racing stakeholders will have to set aside their prejudice against the Racing Minister’s office and take it on as a partnership, because only when that relationship has solidified into a team effort, will racing in Queensland really thrive.
It is a worry that, in her portfolio change, Racing Minister is an add on role.
Grace was previously the Minister for Education and Minister for Industrial Relations (12 Dec 2017 – 11 Nov 2020) and she now is Minister for Education, Minister for Industrial Relations AND Minister for Racing.
Will racing get lost in that pool of work?
Grace will let us know the answer to that by her actions … and really, you want to wish her well because hers is a most important role in the industry.
Nobody would mind if she moved beyond the, ‘I reckon I am probably one of the best Racing Ministers they have ever seen in recent times’ … after-all, what field was she beating there … and instead become one of the best Racing Minister’s ever … not by her own assessment, but by the assessment of those she is there to serve.
Now that would be an achievement.