The message that Thoroughbred breeding plays a vital role in the rural economy and Australian society was echoed by Australian government ministers and senior politicians at a Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA) event in Canberra Monday evening. Defence Minister Marise Payne and Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten were both on hand at the gathering to reminisce about their interest in breeding and racing, as well as trainers James Cummings and Peter Moody who spoke about how the Thoroughbred industry has shaped their lives.
Breeders from all over Australia attended the event, among them Tom Magnier of Coolmore Stud, Antony Thompson of Widden Stud, Ron Gilbert of Highgrove Stud, Chris Watson of Mill Park, as well as Mark Webster of Inglis and Vin Cox and Barry Bowditch of Magic Millions. Also in attendance were foreign investors Zhang Yuesheng of YuLong Park, China, and Justin Fung, who heads Aquis Farm.
“We held our first Thoroughbred Breeders’ Australia event in Canberra last year and got a great turnout, but tonight surpassed our expectations,” said TBA chief executive, Tom Reilly. “We had our pitch prepared to sell our industry: jobs in the regions, investment from overseas, export opportunities, but by the time we got up to speak, leading politicians from all sides had made the point for us. It was very gratifying that so many politicians were so well informed that they advocated so strongly on our behalf.”
Defence Minister Payne called the TBA forum “a really important event on the parliamentary calendar,” and politicians thanked breeders for hosting the event.
“Thank you for what you contribute to the economy in Australia,” said Minister Payne. “Thank you for what you contribute, because your industry is a vital one to Australia.”
“Racing has events that create great interest and put us on the map, especially in Melbourne during the spring,” said Bill Shorten. “But without breeding, without the hard work that goes on at farms across Australia, we don’t have those races which are such a part of Australian society.”
Some of the other politicians who attended the event included Trade Minister Steve Ciobo, Veterans Affairs Minister Dan Tehan, Shadow Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese, Small Business Minister Michael McCormack and Hunter MP and Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon.
“What an extraordinary job the breeding industry does in rural and regional Australia,” said Government Chief Whip Nola Marino, a co-convener (with Fitzgibbon) of the Parliamentary Friends of Primary Producers, which hosted the event with TBA and who also breeds and races horses in her electorate of Forrest, south of Perth. “It underpins, like so many agricultural industries do, so much of our regional economies.”
TBA representatives had spent the past several days in Canberra meeting one-on-one with Ministers, Opposition representatives, key advisers and senior bureaucrats, briefing them on key issues in the industry.