A Quick Lesson in How to Political Pork-Barrel With Horse Racing Money – And How Today Queensland Racing Minister Pounds Stirling and His Bosses Have

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Our esteemed Racing Minister in Queensland, Pounds Stirling Hinchliffe, has made great play today about Palaszczuk Government will provide $2.6 million in infrastructure funding for 32 non-TAB race clubs across Queensland, creating or supporting almost 100 jobs.

Now I’m buggered if I know how an average of $75 000 per club per club for things like new pumps and sprinkler systems, a paint job for the swab stall, and fixing up the running rail that’s been bent for the past 8 years is going to create even 1 new job. I would have thought existing contractors would have come in and done the job, but who am I to question the genius of Pounds? After all, I only got a 120 point higher TE score than him when we both did our final year at Craigslea High, I should just shut up.

Good luck with that.

There are three things that Minister Pounds is an expert at though, and two of them of them we share and one of them we don’t.

Stirlo is an expert on property, and I’m not.

He worked for years for the Property Development Council of QLD before he entered Parliament, and then again worked for them during the dark after the Newman landslide when the voters of Stafford threw him out on his arse, before he was able to regroup and use Bill Ludwig’s patronage and his AWU numbers to secure pre-selection for the far away seat of Sandgate, which Labor had held for 55 years pre-Newman and were certain to win back.

(Your Hard Working Local Member in Stafford who was Putting Stafford First morphed into Your Hard Working Local Member for Sandgate, won the seat, bought a joint on the waterfront, and suddenly started putting the northern bayside area first instead).

Me on the other hand, I just win money on the punt and lose the tickets, and my daughter find them and tell me their trust has a bit of money spare, and ask me to buy them a house or unit, depending on the size of the numbers on the betting slip I’ve lost and they’ve found. You can’t no to your kids when they ask nicely, so using a dartboard, a bottle of Vodka, ten joints, realestate.com (did I ever tell you my mate used to own it) and a dart board as research tools, I buy them one sight unseen for cash at 3 o’clock the next morning, and if you think I’m making that up just ask any of my friends and they will set you on the straight and.

So Pounds has got me on that one.

He’s a better basketball player than me too – accident of birth, he’s 6 ft 5″ and I’m only six foot – but despite my limited ability I am a hoops fanatic and can match him in the knowledge department in that game.

I can match Pounds on pork barrelling too, although not having had any desire ever to sit on the padded seats of the House of Broken Dreams and listen to Jackie Trad tell lies about her personal integrity for an hour and a half straight, I just explain the rorts to people rather them implement them like the Minister does.

Pork Barrelling is a political term for slinging loads of cash at a marginal or opposition held electorate that your stats people think you might have a chance of winning, the idea being that if you throw money at the seat and tell everyone what a great job you are doing, then they might vote for you.

That’s what the $2.6 to racing is all about, or the lion’s share of it anyway.

Allow me to illustrate by highlighting the race clubs that have copped $50 000 plus of the $2.6 million in grants that Pounds has making mileage out of in the press today, and when doing so I ask you to just cast aside the fact that the money was already their by virtue of a country racing package introduced elections ago, and concentrate on how it is being distributed.

First up, we’ll look at the bowlers.

$265 000 went to Nanango to replace the Stewards tower and fix up the running rail.

Nanango is held by the LNP leader Deb Frecklington (ever heard of her? most haven’t), and the ALP couldn’t win it if you gave them 5 000 votes start.

What they can win though is the election if Frecklington stays the leader.

Secret internal polling conducted by both parties (I have seen it) says that the LNP is totally rooted at the election, and are going to cop a caning. Ignore what you read in the paper’s polls, they’re hooked, these secretly conducted independent polls are the real deal, which is why there is such a hoo ha going on inside the LNP at the moment as the riders jockey to decide whether to keep Frecko as the leader or not.

Labor want her to stay, desperately, because they knew they are a bird if she does.

Bang!

$265k to Nanango.

Bob Katter often plays the crocodile wrestling fool, but he has a mortgage on his Federal seat of Kennedy, far and away the smartest politician in Australia, and if you don’t believe me then come up my may and have a look at the quality of the inland highways and you will change your mind in two seconds.

Robbie Katter was a slow starter, but the lawyer son is a fast learner, and he has become a first-class pollie as well. The votes of his party’s 3 seats in Parliament ensure that Labor keeps control, even if a couple of members defect to another side, and his support for the government reaps great rewards for his constituents.

If the ALP were to lose a couple of seats at the election in 3 months time they would need Katter even more, because he won’t lose any, so they are desperate to keep him onside, and they’d also love to get his preferences if they can.

Robbie Katter holds the seat of Traeger.

Bing!

Three of the race  clubs in that electorate form part of the eleven that got $50 000 plus in racing funding. Two of them – Cloncurry and Mt Isa ($450k and $376k respectively) – ran the quinella for most money, and copped a third of the funding between them.

Callide has been a seat held by the LNP since inception, but factors like the influx of CSG workers and miners to the area, and having a useless local member in Colin Boyce MP, have given the ALP a thin sliver of hope of winning it if they can get the preference deals they need.

Their chances are slim, but far from impossible, because the LNP first preference votes have fallen from over 17 000 four elections ago to well under 10 000 at the last, while at the same time the size of the electorate has increased from 25 000 to 30 000.

That means that the vote has been peeling away from the LNP big time, and the ALP want to peel it more. So Chinchilla, Wandoan and Jandowae – all clubs in the Callide electorate – also landed three of the top 11 funding splashes.

Chinchilla at $254 000 – to upgrade the jockeys room and the club secretary’s room (WTF?) – got the lion’s share, and there is a very good reason for that too, and it’s not just the club’s need for flash accommodation for its officials.

That reason is that the only polling booths in towns in the Callide electorate that pull more than 1000 voters casting theirs are Gin Gin, Calliope, Biloela and the couple in Chinchilla. 

Labor already wins the primary votes over the LNP in Gin Gin (27% to 21%), Biloela (38-25) and Calliope (43-15), but the lefties get smashed in Chinchilla 36.5% to 21.5%.

If they want to have any hope of winning the seat, they need to turn the vote at the the Chinchilla polling booths.

Boom!

$245 to the local race club.

The seat of Gregory is similar to Callide in that the LNP first preference vote has been collapsing in recent years, from more than 14 000 four elections ago to just over 9 500 last time around.

The only polling booths that really matter in Gregory are the one in Emerald. They attract 3 500 punters with vote slips, while all the others get 2/3rd’s of sweet fanny all. If you want to win Gregory, you have to win Emerald.

Bong!

$220 000 to the Emerald race club for new sprinklers, a new swab stall and an upgrade of the running rail.

Labor held the western QLD seat of Warrego for near on 80 years until the death of the unionised shearing industry and the railways turned it LNP in 1976.

The LNP primary vote there has dropped from 14 000 to 12 000 in recent elections, which on its own wouldn’t give the ALP any chance of winning it, but in just two runs in the seat the Katter Party’s vote has doubled, and they now get as many punters putting them first as Labor does, which means that Warrego is an each way bet.

If Labor can peel some of the strong racing vote off the LNP, then if they can cut a preference deal with Katter it’s not inconceivable that one or the other with the preference votes might win. It’s an extreme longshot, but not impossible.

And anyway, even if they miss, this is non-TAB country funding, and despite the town holding heaps of recent TAB meetings, Racing Quensland has ‘forgotten’ to change its status from non-Tab, so it’s a sneaky way to save on spending to clubs already classified as TAB by slinging Roma cash for necessary repairs and an upgrade to the failing photo finish cameras out of the other fund.

Bazoom!

$155 grand to the Roma Race club.

Labor has only held Burdekin once since its inception, when a low-life snakey dog of a union official of my unwanted acquaintance and former work non-mate named Steve Rodgers won in it in upset in 2004 and lost it five seconds later, but despite having only won a maiden there last time around with a decent candidate in the form of ex-local mayor Mike Brunker the ALP topped the primary poll.

They got done on One Nation preferences, for Pauline is big out in that redneck area of the boonies, but if Katter enters the scene then it could be a different story and game on, because his party has only run once before (in 2012) and it polled the house down, running second.

It’s a longshot too, but when you are only playing with other people’s racing money it’s worth a sneaky shy at the stumps.

Bolero!

$76 000 to Bowen.

Last but not least, the seat of Keppel.

The race club in this electorate is the only one in a Labor held seat that got more than $50 000 from the racing club, and although you might look at the vote numbers from the past couple of elections and scratch your head and ask why, there is actually a very good reason.

That reason is the highly unpopular, but very ALP faction-connected local member Brittany Lauga.

Lauga is an abrasive, divisive idiot with the people skills of a slug, the work rate of a sloth, and the ethics and integrity of Jackie Trad, but none of that one’s brains or charm on the local hustings. People hate her in the electorate, and the more they see or hear of Lauga, the less they like of her.

Despite the good overall polling they are seeing, the astute in party HQ know that even if there was a swing their way across the State, the LNP will buck the trend in Keppel, not because their candidate is brilliant, but because Brittany Lauga is not.

So the ALP is desperately trying to prop her up, not because they like the utterly unlikable Lauga either, but because the party can’t afford to lose the seat. It won’t work, but you can’t only try.

Ba-bum!

$195 000 to the Yeppoon race club for some new pumps, a plastic running rail, and an upgrade to the Stewards tower.

And that dear friends, is the true story about how the country racing fund cash was divvied up and dealt.

When’s the next race start?

 

 

 

 

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