Life continues to get harder under Labor, with rising WorkCover premiums now looming as a serious threat to Victoria’s racing industry.
Nationals Member for Euroa Annabelle Cleeland has spoken in Parliament today, calling on the Minister for Racing and the Minister for Finance to help protect stud farms across the region from exorbitant rises in WorkCover premiums.
The horse industry’s rate for WorkCover contributions has surged by an astounding 65 percent in the past year – with absolutely no warning and after stud service fees were already set for the season.
In the 2021-2022 financial year the rate was 5.859 per cent, in 2022-2023 it was 5.75 per cent, and now for 2023-2024 it has jumped dramatically to 9.487 per cent.
Ms Cleeland said it was unacceptable that local breeders were being put at financial risk due to the Andrews Labor Government’s mishandling of the WorkCover system.
“Having spoken with several thoroughbred stud breeders, farmers and equine services providers, the rising cost of WorkCover premiums is suffocating the growth of the industry,” Ms Cleeland said.
“The fact nearly 10% of farm pay is allocated towards WorkCover is ridiculous.
“Many of these businesses I spoke with have yet to even file any WorkCover claims and these breeders are not facing the same risks as jockeys and track riders.
“It is completely unfair they are saddled with the same premium rates due to another example of this Government’s financial mismanagement.”
Training fees are increasing to cover costs, raising fears horse owners will be priced out of the sport and driven interstate unless they receive more support from the State Government.
Leading trainers have announced significant hikes in fees to cover WorkCover premiums, including daily surcharges, which is a painful hit to owners, who are the lifeblood of racing.
Coupled with inflation, the overall costs for owners and trainers are soaring as Victoria buckles under financial pressure.
“The current broken WorkCover system means less jobs, increased prices, and is adding to the cost-of-living crisis we are in the middle of,” Ms Cleeland said.
“It has already been such a struggle for these businesses to find staff, now they must weigh up if it’s worth keeping them on at all.
“This is an industry that contributes almost $5 billion a year to the economy and helps sustain almost 35,000 jobs across Victoria.
“We need to foster that, not make things harder for industry participants.
“I implore the Minister for Racing and the Minister for Finance to work together to fix this absolute mess before our horse industry moves to New South Wales.”