Queensland’s former racing chief Bob Bentley says he shouldn’t be blamed for the sport’s governing body’s $13.8 million annual loss.
Racing Queensland Ltd declared the substantial loss at its annual general meeting in Brisbane on Friday. The loss is six times higher than what Mr Bentley predicted before he left.
Racing Queensland’s board chairman Kevin Dixon said the increased loss was a result of allocating money for urgent work at various tracks and releasing all prizemoney to race clubs.
There had also been a re-evaluation of Racing Queensland’s assets, including Rockhampton, Caloundra and Albion Park race tracks.
Mr Bentley said when he left after the last state election a financial report indicated the deficit for the year would be $2.2 million.
The late March resignations of key executive staff following the election would have increased the deficit by $1.2 million, he said.
Mr Bentley said the changes to the operational system introduced by Mr Dixon’s new board had come at a cost.
“The changes and magnified loss are the responsibility of the Dixon board, they have the mandate to make change as they see fit, only history can judge the results of changes made to how the industry operates,” he told AAP.
Mr Bentley said he’s not saying the Dixon board was right or wrong but it was unfair to blame his board for the loss.
He said there had been $13 million in cash held by Racing Queensland at the time his board resigned.
Mr Dixon said when he took over the projected loss, it had been $3 to $4 million, which wasn’t far off Mr Bentley’s estimate.
However, he said there had been an urgent need for maintenance at tracks across the state and his board had been committed to allocating all of the prizemoney available.
Mr Dixon said Racing Queensland would trade next financial year to have a balance sheet in the plus or minus $1 million range.
He said Mr Bentley eventually would have had to spend the money, and Racing Queensland was about running racing not being obsessed with making a profit.
Meanwhile, Mr Bentley and Mr Dixon are unable to comment on allegations Mr Bentley’s board allocated millions of dollars to a company without putting the work to tender because it is being investigated by the Crime and Misconduct Commission.