Equine training centre set for NSW Hunter

·2-min read

The former TAFE site at Scone in the NSW Hunter Valley will be transformed into a world-class equine training centre.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said Racing NSW will develop a state-of-the-art equine industry training academy that will significantly expand its current use as an educational facility.

"The development of this equine training centre will see the Upper Hunter community have access to the very best of what the thoroughbred racing industry has to offer," Mr Barilaro said on Thursday.

The racing industry generated a $3.6 billion economic benefit to NSW and sustained 27,600 full time equivalent jobs across the state,' he said.

"So this is a major boost for local employment now, and for generations to come.

"The Upper Hunter will have the best of both worlds, with a world-class equine training centre in Scone and state-of-the-art learning facilities including the Connected Learning Centre in Scone and the Muswellbrook TAFE."

Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee said the community and local industry would benefit from specialised equine courses delivered by Racing NSW for local jobs such as stablehands, trainers, track work riders and jockeys.

Racing NSW Chief Executive Peter V'landys said Racing NSW would offer extensive courses for the thoroughbred racing industry and other trades.

"We're committed to working with TAFE NSW and the local community to ensure the training needs of the local community are being met for all trades," Mr V'landys said.

TAFE NSW will lease back parts of the site for up to three years at nil cost and has committed to the continued delivery of equine training in the Scone community beyond 2024, as required.

The announcement comes in the midst of the crucial May 22 by-election in the area which threatens the Berejiklian government's majority.

The NSW government is battling to hold onto the marginal Upper Hunter seat after Nationals MP Michael Johnsen was forced to resign last month after being accused of rape - which he vehemently denies.

The sale of the TAFE campus has long been a hotly contested political issue with Labor and the Greens raising questions over the consultation process surrounding the sale of the prime 18 hectare which was listed for sale in January.

A parliamentary probe last month revealed that Racing NSW sent a letter to the government offering to buy the Scone TAFE campus six months before it was listed for sale.