QUEENSLAND Racing Integrity Commissioner ROSS BARNETT (pictured) has responded to questions about the cost of running the body he heads in an email to the WEDNESDAY WHINGE last week. He writes:

‘EVERY Queensland taxpayer is entitled to question whether the money given to Government departments and statutory bodies like the QRIC is being spent well and providing significant value. As Commissioner I understand and expect that scrutiny.

We are answerable to the public through the Parliament via Question Time and the way we spend the money we are given is particularly scrutinised in the annual all-Party Estimates Hearings. I am also required to provide a performance report every three months to the Minister addressing our activities and achievements in a wide range of areas. Our performance in a range of our key responsibilities is also public knowledge through Stewards’ Inquiries, media reporting and our Annual Report. People should consider all of this information when forming a view about whether we provide value worthy of our budget.

A prosperous racing industry relies on strong betting turnover and increasing those numbers relies totally on confidence in the integrity of the industry. The strategic thinkers in racing appreciate that link and understand that stronger integrity is demonstrably good for business.    

There is ever-increasing competition for wagering dollars internally between the three codes and externally with an increasing array of sports which permit betting. In this environment community confidence in racing has never been more important both in terms of a level playing field for racing and protecting the welfare of racing animals.  The best response to concerns that will continue to escalate over time about both issues from anti-racing critics is to point out that the industry has a well-resourced, completely independent regulatory body with the powers necessary to ensure high standards. 

There was also criticism of the internal review decision to reinstate the suspended license of a Cairns trainer. To me, this is further proof that the review system, although not flawless, generally works as intended. Decisions made by human beings in all occupations are not always perfect and we publicly acknowledge when errors are made in good faith but don’t withstand independent scrutiny. The industry is fortunate to have access to this immediate and free review option.                 

In our most recent survey 60 per cent of industry participants and 65 per cent of the remainder of the community believed that integrity had improved in the last 12 months. This result is just one significant example of the benefits we provide for the industry. While there remains opposition to the necessity for the QRIC by some, I believe in time participants will see this model as integral to improving the reputation of racing. The 243 reports we received in the past three months alone, many from racing participants providing information about suspected integrity and welfare breaches, suggest people trust us and support the work we are doing to improve the industry they love.’  

 

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