Caulfield Racecourse Reserve

Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield)—The matter I raise is for the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, and the action I seek is that the minister adopt the recommendations outlined in the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office report entitled Management and Oversight of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve.

The report outlines that the trust has not been an effective manager of the reserve and that insufficient attention has been paid to fulfilling the potential for community use of this reserve.

It is important to mention that Caulfield Racecourse is one of most prestigious racecourses in Australia. It brings significant revenue into the state through racing and events. It hosts significant racing events, including the Caulfield Cup and the Caulfield Guineas, and was a training home of the legendary Black Caviar. In addition to a racecourse, the 1949 Crown grant designated the land as being for two other purposes: for public recreation and as a park. It would be fair to say that, despite the efforts of many, the trust has failed to deliver on the recreation and open space benefits to our community, which the report highlights. Without elaborating on the failure by the Labor government to properly administer land swaps and to take up recommendations from previous reviews, we are now in a great position to finally implement a management plan by taking up these recommendation to the benefit of both racing and community use.

Members would have heard me advocate in this place for more community use of the 54 hectares of land. We have seen racecourses, such as Happy Valley Racecourse, also having strong sporting facilities and golf courses in the middle of their reserves. We are perfectly placed to do a similar thing at Caulfield. I place on the record acknowledgement of the efforts of the current Melbourne Racing Club administration, which has demonstrated a willingness to adopt a plan that incorporates better public use of the facility. In 2012 I worked with the club and the City of Glen Eira to deliver a $1.8 million upgrade of the centre, including barbecue and jogging facilities. That project was funded by the racing club to encourage community use of the reserve.

Despite having done all of that, as we have known and as this report highlights, the community does not fully utilise this space because it is hard to get to. Caulfield Racecourse Reserve is desperately calling out for an active space plan to bring people into the centre of the reserve. We could do this through proper community consultation, which this report also suggests. I thank the minister and the current Department of Environment and Primary Industries administration for their commitment to fixing the inherent problems in managing this reserve and the work they have done so far with the trust.

The recommendations of the report include more rigorous oversight of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve; adopting a governance framework consistent with contemporary standards, determining the trust’s responsibilities, powers and obligations; a community engagement strategy that can identify the needs and will ultimately result in a land management strategic plan that contains a clear and measurable outcome for use of Crown land consistent with the grant; and the exploration of alternative management arrangements for the reserve so it can be better placed to meet the needs of the racing and local community into the future.

Ultimately we are looking for the best outcome for all—the best outcome for residents and the community while keeping in mind that it is a racecourse.

I call on the minister to adopt all of these recommendations in this report. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get things right in this unique and valuable space known as the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve. I will give the community my undertaking to continue to fight for better community benefit in this great space.