JUST weeks out from the Upper Hunter by-election the NSW government has made a multi-million dollar commitment to greyhound racing which will see the Muswellbrook track reach TAB status.
Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) CEO Tony Mestrov, Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson announced at Muswellbrook Greyhound Club on Wednesday the non-TAB venue would join tracks such as Taree and Wauchope in staging TAB meetings.
The money comes from a previously announced $30 million commitment to assist GRNSW and its clubs to improve animal welfare, and will see the Muswellbrook club host six to eight TAB meetings a year, on top of their regular meets.
Mr Barilaro said TAB meets would provide a direct boost to the economy through increased visitation, as seen following greyhound club upgrades in Gunnedah and on the Mid North Coast.
The Muswellbrook Greyhound Club has a rich history in the region, operating for more than 60 years and the announcement is a "win for the Upper Hunter", Mr Mestrov added.
"Because of its location the club attracts trainers and dogs from Gunnedah and Tamworth and right across the Hunter Valley," he said.
The upgrades will include the a full resurfacing of the track, the addition of lure rail and three electric starting boxes.
Last week Mr Barilaro, Mr Anderson and the Nationals candidate for Upper Hunter Dave Layzell inspected the site, flagging their interest in upgrading it to TAB standard.
Mr Anderson said locals have "long been calling for TAB racing to come to the region" and the Upper Hunter is home to a "large and passionate group of owners, trainers and greyhound racing fans".
"In the last few years we have seen a true resurgence in the greyhound racing industry in NSW," he added.
The announcement comes the week after the NSW government made a show of strong support for thoroughbred racing in the Upper Hunter, outlining plans to enter a partnership with Racing NSW following the controversial sale of Scone's TAFE campus. Racing NSW will turn the site into a multi-million dollar equine centre of excellence.