Under the proposal, 35 per cent of the proceeds from the sale would go towards a racing industry infrastructure fund. (Facebook: Perth Racing)
After years of uncertainty over the future of the TAB, the WA Government will push ahead with the sale of the state-owned betting agency in a deal that could deliver up to $500 million.
The Government said 35 per cent of the proceeds from the sale would be put towards a new dedicated racing industry infrastructure fund, as part of a broader reform package.
Treasurer Ben Wyatt said the proposal was not an exercise in “budget repair”, but was designed to secure the future of the industry, which he did not believe would survive without intervention.
“This is the most significant reform proposal in a long period of time and, in our view, clearly the most generous package for industry in the country,” he said.
Treasurer Ben Wyatt and Racing and Gaming Minister Paul Papalia said the sale of the TAB was not an exercise in “budget repair”, but designed to secure the future of the industry. (ABC News: Eliza Laschon)
Mr Wyatt said the second component of the reform package was a move to streamline wagering taxes.
That will see two existing taxes —the racing and wagering WA tax and the bookmakers’ betting levy — abolished and replaced with a point of consumption tax.
“The reason why every state in the nation has gone down a point of consumption tax path is because it means that those [online and] foreign-owned corporate bookmakers will for the first time be paying tax in Western Australia,” Mr Wyatt said.
The WA racing industry will receive 30 per cent of the total revenue collected from the consumption tax.
Sale to test the market
The Treasurer was reluctant to speculate on how much the Government would likely receive for the “long-term, 50-year-plus” TAB lease, but the ABC understands it is expected to fetch up to $500 million.
“Over time there’s been a lot of figures mooted that range from around $200 million to $1 billion,” Mr Wyatt said.
“We’ll now test the market. There will be some interest now.”
Racing and Gaming Minister Paul Papalia said smaller, country race clubs would benefit from the reforms.
“The thing that looks after the little country race clubs is the 35 per cent of net (sale proceeds) going to an infrastructure fund,” Mr Papalia said.
Legislation will be introduced into the WA Parliament this week to sell off the TAB and streamline wagering taxes. (AAP: David Crosling)
One of the ‘biggest backflips in history’: Opposition
Opposition Racing and Gaming spokesman John McGrath described the sale as one of the biggest backflips in the history of the WA Parliament.
“When we, as a Liberal Government, wanted to bring in the sale of the TAB four or five years ago, we faced enormous opposition mainly from the Labor opposition,” Mr McGrath said.
But he welcomed the move, and said it gave the industry a guarantee it would not be worse off.
He would not be drawn on a party position, he said, until his party had a chance to see the detail.
Nationals MP Colin Holt agreed, saying it was about time the Government acted.
“We’ve been waiting for them to move on with the job that we set up,” Mr Holt said.
Mr Holt said the Nationals supported the legislation “in principle”, but would also wait to see the detail.
The 15 per cent point of consumption tax was included in the McGowan Government’s first budget.
Legislation will be introduced into Parliament this week to have the system in place by January 1, 2019.