Queensland’s iconic Birdsville Cup carnival (August 31-September 1) will be telecast Australia-wide for the first time ever this year, with half of the wagering proceeds generated going to the Drought Appeal.
Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said 136 years on from the first Birdsville race meeting, telecasting and betting technology will transform the Outback event.
“Racing Queensland has finalised a deal for Sky Racing to telecast the entire race cards from Birdsville’s world famous two-day meeting,” he said.
“Racing Queensland will donate half of its net wagering revenue from Birdsville to the Drought Appeal, delivering much-needed funds for struggling Queensland farmers.
“This could raise thousands and thousands of dollars for the Drought Appeal.
“Birdsville is a magical part of our vast state and is no stranger to the extremes of nature.
“Just two years ago, the Birdsville Cup had to be postponed due to major flooding – and now the town, along with large parts of Queensland, are gripped in a crippling drought.
“As one of the world’s most colourful race meetings, the Birdsville Cup offers another great platform to raise awareness about the plight drought-affected Queensland are facing.
“The racing telecast is also another a great chance to showcase this unique part of Queensland and one our most iconic Outback events.”
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said: “Each year the Birdsville Cup delivers a vital economic boost to the town, and other centres along the way. That’s more important than ever now.
“Queensland farming and outback families need all the help we can get them.
“Punters right round Australia can give them a big hand up when they bet on the iconic Birdsville Cup and all the other races across the two-day meeting in August-September.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for all racing fans to enjoy a bet and at the same time back in our struggling farmers,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
Each year up to 7,000 local, interstate and international visitors cram into Birdsville for the tiny town’s race meeting and to have a true Outback Queensland experience.
Mr Hinchliffe said the broadcast deal had been made possible by the Palaszczuk Government’s four-year $70 million Country Racing Support Package.
“You won’t find a greater supporter of Country Racing and Country Queensland than the Palaszczuk Government,” he said.
“Our Country Racing Package supports more than 100 race clubs throughout the State, in recognition of the vitally important role they play in so many communities.
“This partnership between the Palaszczuk Government, Racing Queensland and Sky Racing is great news for the Outback, country racing and drought relief.”
Racing Queensland Chairman, Mr Steve Wilson AM, said: “The Birdsville carnival is a shining example of the racing industry’s ability to unite people and communities through unique events.
“When the going gets tough, as it is now for our Queensland farmers, you can rely on the racing industry to rally to the cause and we congratulate the club, Sky Racing and the government for their support.”