free speech

How do you distract peoples’ attention away from real issues or as I like to call them, “ bread and butter issues “ ?

You post a profit, pad out information forums and AGMs leaving little or no time for matters to be raised and then bring on the drinks and party pies while people are still trying to ask questions. Throw in the confidentiality clauses about income and liabilities and . . .

Welcome to the Australian Turf Club.

I appreciate and acknowledge the fact that the ATC has reduced debt and also the free time the Committee give to the Club, however, as I have said before, it’s still not a bad gig.

So, the ATC is amalgamating ( aka, taking over ) the Rosehill Bowling Club with massive plans for redevelopment, including hotel(s), clubhouse, bowling greens, etc. In principle, I don’t necessarily have a problem with the amalgamation because I think that the poker machine licence will be an asset and will be absorbed into the Club’s present poker machine quota, but I personally believe the land will either be sold to save the club the hassle of funding the redevelopment or a better option, have a developer build residential high rise, but also build facilities that will be owned and controlled by the club. The developer gets the residential high rise as profit and the ATC gets assets in the way of “ outside race day “ facilities, like a hotel, bar and restaurant.

WHAT I DO have a problem with, is the getting from point A to point B – the Memorandum of Understanding document and then the final outcome.

In the document, Rosehill Bowling Club members were to receive certain benefits, namely a separate ATC membership category, as well as, basically, initial free ATC membership – neither of which I have a problem with. However, well before the ATC AGM, I was reliably informed, not to take much notice of what was in the document, it was the finished document that counted and that those particular membership benefits were never going to happen.

At the ATC AGM, I endeavoured to ascertain a timeline in the Rosehill Bowling Club membership voting on the amalgamation, but in typical style, my enquiry was waved away.

Apparently the vote was something like, 62 for and 1 against, from the members of the Rosehill Bowling Club.

My question was and still is, did the vote take place on the understanding that those benefits were to be given ?

If the Rosehill Bowling Club members voted thinking that they were going to be getting certain ATC membership concessions, but in reality were never going to happen, then is there an argument that the ATC gained a benefit by deception in the amalgamation or take over ?

The ATC Chairman joked in the AGM that I must have been asking on behalf of the one person who voted against the proposal and after the AGM, he waved away the documents.

And yes, I am pushing this point because I know a member of the Rosehill Bowling Club and no, it wasn’t the person who voted against the proposal.

I make no accusations, it was and is, just a question that I think needs addressing.

Another concern I have, is the ATC now becoming a developer ?

Let’s not forget, among other grandiose announcements, a hotel was to be built next to the Officials Stand at Royal Randwick. How long ago was that ? And not a sod of soil turned and all quiet.

Then look at the state of the tracks, facilities at all the tracks, but especially Warwick Farm and Canterbury, attendances, staffing issues . . .

Seriously, how about getting the core business right before branching out.

It seems the ATC is more concerned about hiring spin doctors, as I note that the club seems to have gone on a new staffing spree.

Is it all a case of Empire Building ?

The ATC SOLD assets, now it seems they are buying back the farm.

Now before everyone starts on me about always being negative, let me just say that I prefer to cut through all the spin and bullshit and that is what gets detractors offside. I also fervently believe that those responsible at the ATC can do better.

After spending the first night meeting at Canterbury recently, I was button-holed by a member of the ATC’s management team at Canterbury railway station. This person fronted me and started by saying, “ You know no one likes you, why don’t you fuck off, just fuck off, yeah, why don’t you just fuck off ? We know you only remain a Member for the reciprocal rights, so why don’t you just fuck off ? “

When this person eventually introduced themselves, I knew the name, but to the best of my knowledge, we had never met.

If people get their nose out of joint about what I say, then so be it and anyway, apparently no one out at the ATC reads RacingB*tch, but if they did, maybe better dialogue, understanding and co-operation might occur between stakeholders.

Let’s get back to this profit caper.

Everyone loves a profit, but at what cost ?

Basically, the ATC and for that matter most metropolitan or principal race clubs put it out there that they are fine dining or special, a better class facility and for that, they want you to pay – 52 weeks of the year, also throw in mid weeks as well, albeit that mid-week meetings are more like hotels that rent rooms by the hour.

For instance, the ATC want you to pay $29 for a bottle of red, day in, day out, when the exact same bottle sells for $15.50 at the Central Coast Leagues Club. Step up one of the spin doctors – “ yes, but you are not sitting in a 150 million dollar grandstand drinking that bottle of red .”

Yeah, well, about that 150 million dollar grandstand . . . lol

Membership renewals bring in about $5million, ( roughly 15,000 members X say, average Member renewal, $350 ), but apparently less than $150,000 was returned in Member benefits. Even I have to concede it would have to be more than that, but that was what was indicated. Step up spin doctor again and I think what was said, was that it’s not all about returning all of the income, it’s about providing value to Members.

So, that value consists of 1 Members Christmas party, down from 2 and limited in numbers allowed to attend. Do me a favour, it’s just to boost a night meetings figures. So what about the fourteen and a half plus thousand Members who miss out, where’s the value in it for them ?

Members now have to pay, albeit nominal, a fee for Members events, but for that fee, there are COMPLIMENTARY canapes and drinks. ( So, add redefining the English language to the list of race club and developer. )

Cost of Membership went up again this year. Why ? No reason, just because everything goes up, so why should the ATC miss out ? Yet I know workers who haven’t had a pay rise for 3 years. Of course the ATC spin doctors would simply say, get a different job.

Of course also, the spin doctors will tell you that Members get entry to 113 race meetings and free entry vouchers. Whoopdydo. Take midweeks out of that 113 and the cost of entry is arbitrary and should be done away with anyway – costs nothing to walk into a TAB or pub and virtually even a club, $5 a year.

The new website. I am told it is a work in progress. Seriously ?!?! Would Qantas, a bank, would anyone go live with something that isn’t remotely finished ?

They may think the website is satisfying customer needs, but what it doesn’t tell them is what customers actually want but cannot get from the website. And how about consistency ? Race book one day, then nothing.

How about telling people, Members and public, what areas are open.

Here’s an idea, what about menus, what about beverage options ?

The Members lunches in the ballroom was a great idea, but what about an alternative ?

How about seasonal menus, for instance, in winter move the $190 diners into the Chairman’s Club and make the Members Dining room a “ pub grub “ menu, $30 meals, like a roast, bangers and mash, pastas, pizza and include 1 beverage.

I have long suggested a Members day, on a Sunday when there is no metropolitan racing, one at Royal Randwick and one at Rosehill. Have it facilitated by a private, INDEPENDENT firm, no Committee, no Management and let Members thrash out the real issues and concerns, whether they be major or minor. At the moment it is done in an ad hoc manner with people approaching Committee individuals or the new Membership Manager, just not good enough.

I have to laugh when the spin doctors throw up the old chestnut that they listened to their clients or members. Trouble is, they have selective hearing.

I won’t cop spin or as it’s called in the public bar, bullshit, so I will always vent my opinion. No doubt I will get lambasted for what I have said, just be constructive and think about it.

On a lighter note, I’m off to Canterbury tonight and am really looking forward to the night racing. I’ll be up in the Guineas Members Dining Room where the food and service is always excellent, as I have often said.

At the first night meeting this year, I saw people enjoying the open terraces. Imagine being able to go a night meeting, wearing smart dress shorts, boat shoes, collared shirt, ladies dressed in something short, light and summery and out enjoying the open terraces on a balmy summer night. So do yourself a favour and get your backside trackside tonight and then backup for Villiers Day as it looks like being a bonza days racing.

It’s just a pity that, and forget about the punt, going racing ain’t cheap.

Norm Snowden

This entry was posted in Australian horse racing industry, Horse Racing, The horse racing industry and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Syd Knee says:

    Last Saturday was the most beautiful Sydney Summer day and it had been weeks since a Saturday meeting had been held at Randwick, so where was everybody? They cannot all have gone to the beach. They cannot all have been Christmas shopping. Does anyone know the attendance figure? Yep, just worry about the big days. Make a motza then and keep those prices up and repel the punters on the non-carnival days. Same, same.

  2. Norm

    I was very sorry to read about your interaction with a member of the ATC management team on Canterbury Railway Station. This sort of behaviour is grossly unacceptable. I would encourage you to refer the matter to Darren Pearce who I’m sure will take appropriate action.

    James Mathers

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