NEWCASTLE Jockey Club chairman Geoff Barnett said his new vice-chairman, Paul Leaming, could take credit for helping turn around the organisation’s fortunes over the past four years.
Leaming was voted in as vice-chairman ahead of incumbent Bill Moncrieff at an NJC board meeting on Monday, a week after the club announced a profit of $324,720 and income of $966,169 for the 2015-16 financial year.
Leaming, a former chief financial officer at AMP and Macquarie Bank, was one of three original nominated directors of the club approved in March 2013. It came after NJC members voted in favour of changing their club's constitution to have three Racing NSW nominated directors alongside four elected representatives on the board in order to secure $11.2 million in redevelopment funding from the state body.
Darley’s Richard Sonnichsen and former Newcastle Airport company secretary Helen Wild – the NJC’s first female director – were the other successful nominations. Wild, though, did not apply for another term at the November 29 annual general meeting and was replaced by former NJC CEO and Racing NSW Country boss Brian Judd.
Of the elected directors, there was only change. Michael Hadaway, who had resigned because of personal reasons mid-term, returned to join Barnett, Moncrieff and Robert Dan.
Barnett, who was returned as chairman on Monday, said Leaming was a major part of the club’s success since it posted a loss of $151,186 for 2011-12. That financial year, stewards closed the track for two months from October 20 because the surface was deemed unfit for racing.
The issues prompted the need for a new main track, which has been completed and is set to open for racing on March 17 next year.
The promotion of Leaming came in what Barnett said was an exciting time for the club.
“Paul’s been there four years now and he is a very smart operator,” Barnett said.
“He’s been chairman of the finance and risk committee those whole four years and he’s brilliant when it comes to the financial side of things.
“He’s the guy I really give credit to for changing our good fortunes around over that period.
“We had some tough years but let’s hope this is the start of a good thing.”
The 2015-16 profit, which was $295,685 without property revaluations and transfers to reserves, came after a return of $538,249 for 2014-15. Those followed profits of about $86,000 for 2013-14 and $270,020 for 2012-13.
Barnett said Racing NSW’s new tax parity funding helped boost the past year’s figures but the success came via “good strong management as well”.
“We are really looking forward to next year and the opening of this new track,” Barnett said.
“This is a community track and we want everyone at some point in their life to experience it.”