The Hon Martin Pakula MP - travel report - South Africa and India, 20 - 27 February 2020

MinisterThe Hon Martin Pakula MP

Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade
Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events
Minister for Racing

Countries visitedSouth Africa (Cape Town), India (New Delhi)
Date of travel20 February to 27 February 2020 (inclusive)
No. of official travel days
(including day of departure and day of return)
8 days
Number of accompanying ministerial staff 1
Accompanied by spouse in an official capacity No
Funding for the overseas trip was paid by (list department/s or agency) Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions
Air fares (including taxes and fees)$36,679*
Accommodation (including taxes and fees)$5,419*
Other expenses (includes surface travel and travel allowances)$4,400*
Travel cost for minister and staff$46,498*

*The above costs are not final and complete

Purpose of travel

The main purpose of my travel to South Africa was to attend the 38th Asian Racing Conference (ARC) 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. The ARC is a biennial event that brings together member countries of the Asian Racing Federation (ARF). I was invited to attend ARC2020 to contribute to a panel discussion on the role of government in the regulation and promotion of horse racing internationally. ARC2020 also included a formal handover of hosting rights from Cape Town to Melbourne, which was confirmed as the host of ARC2022.

Attending ARC2020 gave me the opportunity to promote the Victorian thoroughbred racing and breeding industries into key international markets, participate in a panel discussion on ‘Engaging with Government as a Stakeholder’, participate in the official handover ceremony of ARC hosting rights from Cape Town in 2020 to Melbourne in 2022 and meet with key international stakeholders including the ARF and Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) to discuss issues of significance for racing jurisdictions throughout the region and the world.

I also travelled to India to represent Victoria at the Australia India Business Exchange (AIB-X) program led by Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham in New Delhi. Victoria had the largest delegation present on the mission, with 33 business delegates from a total national delegation of 150 people. As part of the AIB-X program, I attended the official reception hosted by the Deputy Australian High Commissioner and was the key guest at an event for media and influencers, and food buyers featuring Victorian ingredients and prepared by Victorian chef, Sebastian Simon. I delivered the keynote address at the Australia India Institute’s seminar on e-learning opportunities which included the launch of Deakin University’s online education MBA program with India based UpGrad platform and Deakin’s collaboration with Rajasthan Royals on a sports marketing certificate program. I also toured the Health and Wellness showcase and was able to meet directly with Victorian exporters to discuss their specific India export plans.

In addition, I undertook meetings in New Delhi arranged by the South Asia Victorian Government Trade and Investment (VGTI) office with key IT industry group NASSCOM, major Victorian investor HCL Technologies and Vistara Airlines.

Benefits of travel to the State of Victoria

South Africa

In Victoria, racing contributes $4.3 billion to the state economy annually and helps sustain 33,800 jobs. The ARF region is one of the fastest growing in world racing. This presents both challenges and opportunities for Victoria. The ARF is the peak international body for horse racing in the region, its functions include: the promotion and facilitation of the internationalisation of horse racing, harmonisation of the rules of racing and anti-doping protocols across member jurisdictions, promotion and development of racing throughout the ARF region and quality control of ‘black type’ races through the Asian Pattern Committee.

At ARC2020 Melbourne was announced as the host of ARC2022. This is a significant international event that will showcase Melbourne to a large and diverse audience of international racing industry professionals from a range of fields. The Victorian Government welcomes investment in breeding and racing in Victoria from the wider ARF region. Domestic breeding industries are relatively limited in most Asian racing jurisdictions, which provides significant export opportunities for Victorian breeders. Buyers from ARF jurisdictions play a vital role ensuring competition at major bloodstock auctions in Australia, including in Victoria.

Australian and Victorian bred horses are a significant part of the racing horse population in leading Asian jurisdictions such as Hong Kong and Singapore. Victorian racing also benefits from a close relationship with other ARF jurisdictions. Victorian racing derives direct commercial benefit from international jurisdictions agreeing to simulcast and offer wagering on Victorian races, and from international horses competing in Victorian feature races, such as the Melbourne Cup. There are significant benefits to all jurisdictions in the region from the free exchange of information and increased cooperation on key challenges. These include threats to racing industry funding from illegal or unauthorised online wagering, appropriate controls for the international movement of horses, and a consistent and robust approach to anti-doping.


My attendance at AIB-X enabled me to reinforce Victoria’s position as Australia’s most engaged and represented state in terms of Australia-India relations. My first visit to India provided me with a vital first-hand understanding of this key and growing market and the opportunities for exporters and for inward investment.

India is Victoria’s largest diaspora community, fastest growing inbound tourism market and second largest student market. It is a complex and rapidly developing market and participating in AIB-X enabled me to engage directly with exporters and buyers in the food and wine and health and wellness industries.

I was able to engage with both Victorian and Indian providers to promote Victoria’s leading capability in online education, an opportunity which has grown significantly since India launched its new Education Plan in late 2019. This is significant to Victoria, Australia’s education state, as it enables the industry to diversify a maturing relationship and develop a new market sector which brings opportunities to existing mainstream education providers as well as SMEs.

I was able to deepen Victoria’s relationship with the Indian IT industry which dominates Indian investment in Victoria, and to explore opportunities in emerging subsectors such as sports-tech, gaming and animation and start-ups.

My meeting with Vistara Airlines deepened the VGTI office’s existing relationship and aimed to position Melbourne as a key opportunity as the airline considers potential scheduling of an Australian route in future years.

Next Steps / Follow Up

There were a number of cross-jurisdictional issues that I will be raising at the next Australian Racing Minister’s Conference including: animal welfare, integrity and wagering pools. The exchange of information from experts on animal welfare will help inform the work to be undertaken on a national horse traceability scheme.

The Victorian Government, through Global Victoria and the VGTIs in Bangalore and Mumbai, will continue to develop their work in the sectors of technology, education, food and beverage, and consumer brands as identified throughout this visit to India. The potential for some sectors such as edtech has grown as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) impacts. Given the likelihood of travel restrictions into the future, Global Victoria is exploring opportunities for virtual trade missions and encouraging opportunities for trade through e-commerce.

Page last updated: 17 June 2021