Jenny - Clean

RACING Opposition spokesperson JANN STUCKEY made this address in reply to the Second Reading of the Racing Integrity Bill in the Queensland Parliament overnight.

On up to a dozen occasions her rejection of the bill was the subject of interjections with call from Racing Minister Grace Grace for Mrs Stuckey to withdraw comments made about her, specifically in relation to alleged conflicts of interest in Board appointments and statements made on integrity issues.

Here is Mrs Stuckey’s statement in the House (interjections included) courtesy of HANSARD:

THE Racing Integrity Bill was introduced into the House on 3 December 2015 by the then minister, the honourable member for Rockhampton. The objectives of the bill are to establish the new Queensland Racing Integrity Commission responsible forthe management of animal welfare and integrity matters within the racing industry; to amend the Racing Act 2002 to reform the structure of the Queensland All Codes Racing Industry Board, including renaming the board as the Racing Queensland Board, and to dissolve the three individual racing code boards, the Racing Animal Welfare Integrity Board and the Racing Disciplinary Board; and, finally, to amend the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 to provide improved information-sharing capacity andbroaden authorised officer powers to investigate and respond to animal welfare matters and breaches of the act related to the racing industry. The bill proposes to establish a new Racing Integrity Commission which dissolves the existing arrangements and separates the integrity functions of Racing Queensland from the commercial operations into a new separate body. The bill also proposes to implement a seven-member board with three industry members —one from each code—and four independent members. This is seen by a majority of the industry as a move to deliberately shift the power of the board away from input from industry participants.

Both of these arrangements were set to be in place by 1 April 2016. However, due to delayed debate of this bill, interim measures were put in place which have already proven why this bill is flawed and should not be passed. The Agriculture and Environment Committee responsible for reporting on this bill were to bring their report back to the House on 1 March. On Thursday, 25 February this date was moved back to 15 March. Despite this delay, the committee could not reach agreement that this bill be passed. May I recognise and acknowledge the significant work of the committee staff on this bill. As we debate this Racing Integrity Bill 2015, it is important to keep focused on two key words - confidence and integrity. One of them features in the title of the bill. It is critical for Queensland’s racing industry to have integrity in both its commercial and animal welfare obligations. We have bipartisan recognition of this between government, opposition and the crossbench. There is no question about that, so let us hope we do not lose sight of that goal.

I refer to the budget 2015-16 Service Delivery Statements. The racing service area objective states — Maintain public confidence in, and ensure the integrity of, the Queensland racing industry. Yet this Labor government has gone out of its way to destroy confidence in Queensland’s racing industry. If Minister Bill Byrne had bothered to talk to people within the industry instead of hiring accounting types, he would have heard of their grave concerns for the industry. I have travelled the state this past 15 months talking to people within the racing industry, and I have held several round tables where all three codes have been able to have their say —none of this divide and conquer, keep-them-separate agenda witnessed by the Labor government. Unsurprisingly, a total lack of consultation was mentioned a number of times from participants at hearings and also in documents between the department and the Agriculture and Environment Committee. This is a serious issue. The department admitted that, while no consultation has occurred on the detailed content of this bill, consultation has occurred with the community and industry groups, as part of the COI. Remember this was an inquiry into live baiting in greyhound racing, not thoroughbreds and harness.

In another question , when asked about industry consultation, the department replied,‘Refer to answer above.’ It is this arrogant and offhand attitude that the Palaszczuk government promulgate. If infects every department and associated entities. Every aspect of the way Labor have handled this inquiry into live baiting in the greyhound industry is disgraceful. They have dragged thoroughbreds and harness into the inquiry and not listened to the very industry they are obliged to support. I note that point 36 in the MacSporran report states — One of the Commission’s most important tasks is to make recommendations that are targeted at restoring public confidence in the Queensland greyhound racing industry.

Why on earth did the Labor government drag thoroughbreds and harness into the investigation and let them languish for over a year, and greyhounds too for that matter?

Other Australian states, including the big racing states of New South Wales and Victoria, were also affected by the exposure of abhorrent live baiting practices within the greyhound industry. They did not punish all the codes. They did not take a big stick to harness and thoroughbreds too. They value their racing industry and the hard-working, dedicated people within it. I have spoken with industry and government representatives in both states and asked them what they thought of the way that this Queensland government was dealing with racing’s future. They are gob-smacked a government would deliberately damage such an important revenue stream, not to mention sacrificing countless jobs. Weekly Sunshine Coast newspaper commentator Graham Potter says — My understanding is that the parameters of such inquiries are pre-set to focus on achieving predetermined aims and, I would assume, are legally bound by that particular mandate.

In his covering letter to the Premier of June 1, 2015, when presenting his final report, Commissioner Alan MacSporran wrote, ‘In accordance with Commissions of Inquiry Order (No 2) 2015, I present the report of the Queensland Greyhound Racing Industry Commission of Inquiry’ ... and he added his name to the letter with the designation, ‘Commissioner, Queensland Greyhound Racing Industry Commission of Inquiry.’

He continues — In case you missed it, let me repeat it again. It was a Queensland Greyhound Racing Industry Commission of Inquiry.’ Not a horse racing inquiry. Nothing to do with harness racing.

Which begs the question, did the MacSporran Commission exceed its powers by implicating all three racing codes and, if so, ARE THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE MACSPORRAN COMMISSION, EVEN LEGAL IN THE FIRST PLACE?

It certainly is a question that needs an answer because, in spite of going through government records, I cannot find any amendment expanding MacSporran’s original mandate.

I shall now take a few moments to reflect upon the journey that has brought us to this bill. On 16 February 2015 ABC’s Four Corners program aired footage that was purportedly taken some six months earlier of trainers using live animals to bait greyhounds. Understandably, this footage sickened all who saw it and raised concerns about illegal industry practices. On 2 March 2015 the then minister, the honourable member for Rockhampton, ordered a systems review into the industry. After some urging from the LNP, this review was upgraded in April to the Queensland Greyhound Racing Industry Commission of Inquiry. The commissioner heading this inquiry was Alan MacSporran QC, who completed his final report on 1 June 2015. It contained 15 recommendations. Three of those recommendations were related to governance of Queensland’s racing industry and the remaining 12 were related to the welfare of greyhounds. What surprised me and a host of other people was that the only recommendation acted upon by the Palaszczuk government —recommendation No. 2—was the immediate sacking of the racing boards: thoroughbred, harness and greyhounds. As I have reported to this House on a number of occasions, these sackings were executed in a most humiliating and disrespectful manner towards experienced and well-respected individuals. Minister Byrne could not even give these people the dignity of making the calls himself; he got his staff to do it. Just 24 hours after MacSporran handed his report to the Premier these individuals were callously dumped all under the guise of the live baiting scandal in the greyhound industry. Why the rush? MacSporran did not say there was a hurry to abolish the boards, but he did say in recommendation No. 1 that a new statutory authority, the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission, or QRIC, be created as soon as possible.

Here we are in the middle of April, almost 11 months since the MacSporran report was tabled. What excuse does the minister and this revengeful Palaszczuk government have for the delay? Then there is the time line through the summer break with final submissions due on 27 January. In yet another cruel twist, interim acting CEO

Mr Hall sent letters to regional and country racing clubs in December demanding back payment of public insurance moneys. He then retracted that when it became apparent he had made a mistake, but it did expose Labor’s true intent: to cripple our clubs with enforced payments and force them to close. The enormous stress this placed on countless individuals, many of whom were volunteers, just before Christmas was unforgiveable. Obviously that does not move the minister. She does not seem to care what happened to these poor people before Christmas. Meanwhile the industry remained at a standstill —leaderless, rudderless and uncertain of its future.

In late November last year with industry frustration growing to palpable levels and an invisible, non-communicating minister, members of the industry wrote to the minister and the Premier. I quote from a letter from thoroughbred owner Ian McCauley to the Premier on 30 November 2015 which states—

IT has become obvious to me that your instructions to the Honourable Bill Byrne are at the core of this deep apprehension, and in some cases fear, that exists across the whole of racing in Queensland. We are almost mid 2015/16. What do we have? We have a government appointed Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, no board members to assist them and a depleted management team of doubtful capability. There is no industry confidence that this group can reinstate Racing Queensland to the status it held nationally and internationally before the greyhound revelations earlier this year

... Looking back in hindsight I cannot but wonder if the outcome was predetermined.

It is strange that you instructed Minister Byrne to sack all Queensland boards, and then within 24 hours of your appointment of an acting CEO of Queensland Racing he was able to furnish you with a damning assessment of its financial status. On this basis you instructed Minister Byrne to sack all Queensland boards. You will be aware that after 6 months in the job he has yet to produce a 2015/16 budget, an Action Plan or any Forward Strategy paper. Many in the industry are aware that the damning report he made to you came from lower management before any review from the CEO and the 4 boards —remember you sacked them. I understand that you have since also removed the staff who prepared the report.

I further point out that the figures that were hastily scraped together by a person who got his marching orders once the government had what they wanted from him have been denied me, despite asking for them to be produced during estimates last year and on other occasions.

At an industry rally at Doomben on 16 December 2015 hundreds of people who rely on racing for their livelihoods came together to express their opposition to aspects of the Racing Integrity Bill that was introduced into the parliament on 3 December 2015. They unanimously agreed upon the following resolutions and QRUG was born. Resolution No. 1: the industry rejects the proposal to implement a board with a majority membership of non-industry knowledgeable people. Resolution No. 2: the industry requires the government within a month to appoint a board under the current structure with appropriate input from industry. Resolution No. 3: until a board has been implemented and given sufficient time to assess the current situation and devise an agreed strategy no changes are implemented. Resolution No. 4 was a motion of no confidence in Mr Hall. The government ignored all of their resolutions.

The Agriculture and Environment Committee, which is charged with reporting on this bill, has undertaken the following processes: an invitation to provide written submissions —the committee accepted 148 written submissions and I understand about 20 were rejected—the convening of a public briefing for one hour by the Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing on Friday, 11 December; further written briefings were sought from the department; and they convened a four -hour public hearing on 17 February this year. I would like to thank the Agriculture and Environment Committee for permitting me to appear on 17 February and, in particular, the research director who gave me the courtesy of inquiring whether I was intending to seek leave to do so. It is my understanding that some government members wanted to block my attendance at this hearing but they were unsuccessful. In another move that further raised the issue of openness and transparency, committee members did not receive their numerous papers for the hearing until around 8pm, just 13 hours before the hearing. It reminds me of estimates last year when Minister Jones deliberately stalled question on notice replies and then denied any knowledge of it. As the hearing got underway, the aggressive bullying manner of the acting chair, the honourable member for Logan, intimidated well-meaning witnesses who came prepared to put forward their case in their own words. People came to be given a fair hearing, but, sadly, this is so typical of the way Labor have treated this industry and the people within it —all stick, no carrot, and certainly no respect. The member for Logan brusquely told each person to give a brief statement, yet some had prepared 10-minute presentations as no directions as to the length of their opening statements had been given to them. Where did it say that presenters were only to give a brief summary? Were they warned they would face a grilling and be treated in such a confrontational manner? Of course not. They would not have turned up if they had. The acting chair verballed some witnesses, tried to put words in their mouths and extract answers under duress. He cut off one witness from Toowoomba after three to four minutes. He was talking about his family’s generational involvement in racing. The honourable member for Logan was removed from the Agriculture and Environment Committee the same day. That is two ministers, two or more committee chairs and committee members in 12 months.

Mr Power interjected.

Mr DICKSON: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. The member for Logan needs to sit in his seat if he is going to comment on this bill.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms Farmer): Order! I thank the member for his advice. I am perfectly capable of giving the member that advice myself.

Mrs STUCKEY: Labor members might be used to directing people and bossing them around, as they obviously did to the honourable member for Cairns, but it was highly embarrassing for non-government committee members and for all participating and watching in the Legislative Assembly. Ms Breen from Noosa sent me her email to the minister in which she stated—

I’m very disappointed and angry to hear back from multiple attendees that the above enquiry Govt committee representatives were deploying unacceptable bullying and intimidating tactics to the persons presenting to the committee. This is shameful and not the way to ensure everyone can speak to get their point across

Ms GRACE: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. I think we have given the member enough leeway. She is coming in here and reporting on what happened or what did not happen in relation to the committee process, but I think these are matters that are best dealt with in other areas if there are allegations to be made. I think this is irrelevant to the bill. The member should come back to the content of the bill. If there are issues in relation to the conduct of committees, there are other avenues in the standing orders under which they can be processed. Madam Deputy Speaker, I ask for your indulgence to bring the member back to the bill and to cover issues in regard to conduct in other avenues available to this House.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: There is no point of order, but I will be asking the member to make sure that she does remain relevant to the bill. However, I think there is plenty of precedent for actually discussing the committee process.

Mr POWER: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. I found what the member for Currumbin said highly offensive and I ask that she withdraw.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member finds your comments offensive and I ask you to withdraw.

Mrs STUCKEY: I withdraw. The line of questioning was clearly trying to trap witnesses at the hearing into answering loaded questions about integrity issues.

Mr POWER: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. I find this highly offensive and I ask that the member withdraw.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am sorry. I did not actually hear what the member for Currumbin said since your last request for a withdrawal. Could you refer me to what the offensive comments were? I am sorry that I did not hear them.

Mr POWER: She was continuing to allege that I was bullying the witnesses, which I find offensive.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member finds your comments offensive and he asks you to withdraw.

Mrs STUCKEY: I withdraw. It is no surprise when the Labor committee members only followed the minister’s orders. The minister’s comments on radio 4TAB were sowing seeds of doubt about integrity matters across all three codes. No wonder the questions asked of presenters were skewed towards hypothetical integrity issues. I heard the minister boasting of the new committee chair’s racing credentials on radio 4TAB. She said, ‘Glenn is certainly very interested in this area and he’ll make a fantastic chair of that committee.’ She said, ‘Glenn is a manager of a, what do you call them, syndicate manager of a syndicate of racehorses and his racehorse is called Honey Toast. And he’s very much involved, has it trained in Toowoomba which I’ll be visiting next week.’ The minister even admitted to backing her colleague’s horse, which could be perceived by some as a conflict of interest by the Minister for Racing.

Ms GRACE: Madam Deputy Speaker, I take gross offence to those statements and I ask that they be withdrawn. This is getting ridiculous.

Mrs STUCKEY: I withdraw. I quote the minister from radio 4TAB. She said, ‘I backed it on the Sunshine Coast up there and it didn’t make it.’

Ms GRACE: I ask that the member withdraw the comments, Madam Deputy Speaker.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member has asked that you withdraw those comments.

Ms GRACE: I find them offensive and I ask that she withdraw.

Mrs STUCKEY: I withdraw— ‘But I believe Ben Currie, the same trainer, did it very well with Love Sky.’ The minister said, ‘Glenn is certainly very interested in this area and he’ll make a fantastic chair.’

Ms GRACE: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. There are no buts after the withdrawal.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: I ask the member to unequivocally withdraw.

Mrs STUCKEY: I unequivocally withdraw.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: If the member persists with the same comments, then this question may be asked of her again.

Mrs STUCKEY: Thank you very much. I will refer members to the radio 4TAB interview on 29 February. They will be able to read all 30 minutes of it and hear how the minister backed her new chair. I want to make it clear that I am not in any way impugning the character or the reputation of the honourable member for Gladstone, and I congratulate him on Honey Toast’s win at Toowoomba last weekend. However, the appointment of an MP with current racing involvement to chair this parliamentary committee does raise the question of hypocrisy and double standards here. Why doesn’t the minister feel the same way about the new board members having current racing credentials? Why is it such a good thing that the honourable member for Gladstone has a thoroughbred syndicate yet board members cannot?

Mr BUTCHER: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. I do find this offensive because this has nothing to do with me and my horse and what we are talking about in this bill.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: Does the member find these comments offensive?

Mr BUTCHER: Yes, I do.

Mrs STUCKEY: I withdraw. As we continue to talk about integrity and double standards, I wonder if members opposite have listened to the hundreds of racing participants voice their opposition to the bill and the way that their industry has been treated by this Labor government. If they have, they should vote against this bill. During the same radio 4TAB interview I just mentioned, the minister attacked all three codes of the industry, accusing them of having serious integrity issues.

Ms GRACE: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. I take offence to the comments. They are misleading and I ask that they be withdrawn.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: Does the member find the comments personally offensive?

Ms GRACE: They are offensive. They are misleading.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: I ask the member to withdraw.

Mrs STUCKEY: I withdraw. Could I seek some clarity? If I am quoting a direct interview from a radio when I have direct quotes, am I not able to—

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: If the member finds the comments offensive, you are asked to withdraw.

Mrs STUCKEY: Thank you. Once again, I refer honourable members to the radio 4TAB interview on 29 February, where the minister talked about issues in all three codes and dragged them into the industry. She did not sound at all like an industry champion to me, and I ask members to listen to that. She actually attacked industries on air and suggested that every week she receives integrity issues about them —

Ms GRACE: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. I find the comments offensive. They are misleading. I did not attack the industry on air and I ask that they be withdrawn.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: I ask you to withdraw the comments.

Mrs STUCKEY: I withdraw. The minister is misleading the House because this is very clearly explained in the interview.

Ms GRACE: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. I find the comments that I am misleading the House personally offensive and I ask that they be withdrawn.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: I ask that you withdraw.

Mrs STUCKEY: I withdraw.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: We could continue with this but, given that we could spend the next half hour toing and froing, I would ask the member to consider how this may roll out if that continues.

Mrs STUCKEY: I am trying very hard to give a true and accurate representation with direct quotes, but they are being rejected by the minister herself. I am going to move on to chapters 2 and 3 of the bill which relate to the new Queensland Racing Integrity Commission and its functions. The costing of QRIC remains a huge worry for the racing industry, and the minister has acknowledged that it is a concern to the industry. She did refuse to tell us how much it will cost. She said that millions of dollars had been put aside and that it will not cost more than it did previously, but then she would not tell us what it cost. The industry have already had cuts to prize money and race meetings, especially if you live in Toowoomba, a region that has been unfairly treated to say the least. On 29 February, Minister Grace told radio listeners that she knows the overall racing figures and that they are not as bad as predicted— surprise, surprise.The minister said, ‘I’ve had a half yearly report on how we’re tracking and we’re doing a little bit better than the $28 million loss.’ Last December Ian Hall said on radio with David Fowler that he would release the figures, but he did not do that and he left Racing Queensland on 31 March, taking a small fortune in salaries since June 2015 with him. That was another slap in the face for the industry. In February, Mr Fowler asked the minister about the $28 million loss and whether the figure could have been released, suggesting that $5 million was perhaps the amount of money that could have been announced as being saved. The minister again told him that she was hoping to release figures when they became a little bit clearer ‘particularly as the tracking to sustainability document is what I call a living document’. Considering all the banging on this Labor government has made about cost blowouts supposedly caused by the LNP, you would think they would have a handle on the figures and reveal the cost of QRIC. One commentator from the Sunshine Coast said, ‘The current bill has the racing industry paying for all costs. I know the government have said they’ll pay some or all, but as you know that is not what the bill said. Where is this amendment?’ This is a quote from someone from the Sunshine Coast. They continued, ‘Also because this proposed new commission takes in more than just the racing industry, this commission needs to be properly costed and its powers set out in a completely new act.’ They also stated, ‘It needs to not be subject to ministerial interference. It needs to be truly independent of any government. A review of any adverse actions by the commission against any individual or entity needs to be reserved to the courts. The act needs better consideration as it will be far reaching. For that reason it needs to be a stand-alone bit of legislation but further thought out by all.’ What of the poor staff who have spent the summer break wondering their fate? What of their futures? I look forward to hearing more from the minister about that.

As I said earlier, the committee could not agree on the passage of this bill and found it did not meet its requirements. It stated—

According to section 23 of the Legislative Standards Act 1992, the explanatory note for a Bill must include, in clear and precise language: (e) a brief assessment of the administrative cost to government of implementing the Bill, including staffing and program costs but not the cost of developing the Bill.

The explanatory notes for the Racing Integrity Bill 2015 fail this requirement. In fact, they breach the act. The notes provide no assessment of the administrative cost to government of implementing the bill. Instead, the notes advise that the cost of implementation will require funding from the department to address the costs associated with the establishment of QRIC, the transfer of staff from Racing Queensland and the department to the commission. The committee asked the department to provide it with a brief assessment of the likely administrative cost to government of implementing the bill including staffing and program costs. The committee also requested an estimate of the ongoing cost s of QRIC, once it is established, an estimate of the additional costs associated with the integrity system for the racing industry proposed in the bill compared to the current racing industry integrity system, whether the department estimated the percentage increase in costs that will be incurred by racing clubs under the new administrative arrangements and who will pay for the use of police and animal welfare officers in carrying out their roles under the provisions proposed in the bill.

In addition, they asked— A number of submitters to the committee’s inquiry have expressed concern about the costs of the measures contained in the Bill, and that there are no limits or oversights of the costs that can be incurred and passed on to the industry by the proposed Commission. Can you explain how the department will ensure that the Commission is operated efficiently and that its costs are kept to a minimum?

Honourable members well ask, ‘What was the response from the department to this detailed series of questions that have all three codes of Queensland’s racing industry concerned?’ It was a brief four lines and it goes as follows—

As per the Department’s previous advice to the Committee, matters relating to the costs of the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) and the potential costs passed on to the industry are operational matters to be directed to the minister. The Racing Integrity Bill does not dictate the cost of the QRIC.

Does that not just take the cake? Direct your question to the minister, who will duck and weave on costings. The department was prepared to take a question on notice about costs at the 11 December committee hearing and then took over a week to send their reply, which is pretty much the same as this: a non-answer. So much for transparency!

So much for integrity! So much for confidence! This Labor Palaszczuk government has an agenda alright: to do untold damage to the racing industry. I find it very perturbing that the cost of QRIC could not be confirmed and questions asked by opposition members during committee meetings were deemed outside the scope of the bill even though the legislative standards say they have breached it.

The contempt of the Palaszczuk government for those who work in Queensland’s racing industry, whether they be strappers, jockeys, volunteers, bookies or stablehands, is absolutely disgraceful. Time and again this government has fobbed off genuine questions about costs and been told it was not within the scope of the bill. You have to be kidding! We know that Labor spend like drunken sailors, but this is downright insulting. They have destroyed the confidence of an entire industry and refused to say how much the new authority they have had 10 months to organise would cost.

The outgoing minister offered me a briefing on 4 December 2015 after the tabling of the bill, which I took up immediately, especially given I had been requesting regular briefings since June but had not received a single one. A series of questions were asked and answers given at that briefing but to my surprise when very similar questions were asked at the committee hearing on 11 December the same government representatives gave different answers. I had two witnesses openly taking notes at the meeting and they reported in their minutes that the cost of the new authority would be anywhere from $16 million to $20 million. Questions were taken on notice at the 11 December meeting to be delivered back to the committee by 18 December. Not only was that deadline missed but the reply regarding costs of the new integrity authority could not be supplied. No wonder the industry was so nervous about having costs passed onto them.

In reply to a question from the honourable member for Burnett about funding of QRIC, a departmental staff member said it will principally be funded by the control bodies. The exact process for how that happens is still being discussed with particularly Queensland Treasury and that will be dealt with as part of the budget process for 2016-17. The Agriculture and Environment Committee have exposed a breach of the Legislative Standards Act regarding no costing and now we know there was never any intent to cost it.

To say I am disappointed in the behaviour of the new racing minister, the honourable member for Brisbane Central, is an understatement of gargantuan proportions. After the phantom minister from Rockhampton who ignored pleas from the industry to talk to them, the new minister, Grace Grace, appeared to listen—sort of. She goes to race meetings and is trying to butter up the industry stakeholders, but her words are hollow if not followed up by actions that show she really takes their concerns seriously. I know from personal experience that we cannot believe a word she says because her word is rubbish.

Ms GRACE: I rise to a point of order. I find those words offensive, personally offensive, and I ask that they be withdrawn.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms Farmer): Order! The member has asked that they be withdrawn.

Mrs STUCKEY: I withdraw. This minister admitted to me in a meeting with department staff, my colleague the honourable member for Gaven and an opposition staff member on Tuesday, 15 March 2016 that her department was yet to finalise the figures but that the new racing Integrity Commission would not cost more than the current system. How could she make that statement if she did not know the existing costs? It is an appalling admission of incompetence and untruthfulness. Minister Grace then promised she would supply me with those costs before parliament rose Thursday, but she did not. At the Queensland Thoroughbred Breeders Magic Millions Sales the barbecue, which I am sure the minister will remember, on Sunday, 20 March, I again asked her in front of witnesses why she had not forwarded me the costs that she had promised. She said she would get them to me as soon as she returned from Mount Isa, but she did not. She might think it is okay to lie to my face in public not once, but twice.

I do not know what other word there is to use; she told great big fat fibs right into my face and the industry knows she is telling falsehoods.


I ask the member to not use unparliamentary language. You could perhaps refer to it as ‘dishonesty’ if you are going to do that.

Mrs STUCKEY: I resorted to asking a question on notice about the costs, which came back last Friday afternoon. The reply listed figures for the existing integrity regime for 2013-14 and 2014-15 with language that suggested the figures were notional. However, the minister kept saying that the new integrity commission would not cost more than the existing regime. That was another example of left hand versus right hand. Further, the figures provided in response to my question 444 are not able to be reconciled to the chart of accounts or general ledger operating expenditure that was in place at the time the last board was removed from office some 10 months ago. In short, they are meaningless and not able to be used as an apples versus apples comparison. In reality, Racing Queensland staff numbers and costs of administration are higher under Labor’s stewardship of racing, a cost to be borne by industry participants. Cost shifting has taken some or all of the department of racing costs and added them to the integrity budget. I look forward to seeing these figures clearly defined in the 2016-17 budget as stated in the question on notice reply. The minister finally plucks the costs out of the air in time to debate this bill.

Still on chapters 2 and 3 regarding QRIC, the Brisbane Racing Club chairman

Neville Bell submitted that—

In addition, the Australian Sports Commission ... does not recommend that sports separate their integrity functions from the general governance and management of the sport. The ASC, responsible for the distribution of taxpayer funding for a range of national sports, provides best-practice governance advice to sports on how to manage conflicts and how to implement appropriate mechanisms to manage the full range of requirements of a national governing body.

In yet another reason as to why this bill should be thrown out, the minister has indicated she will tinker with the provisions in clause 17.1 of the bill requiring two or more deputy commissioners. The minister has said that the new commissioner-in-waiting, highly respected police officer Ross Barnett, might decide that he does not need more than one. Once again I say that the left hand did not speak to the right hand when drafting this bill. How long has this Labor government had to bring this legislation forward?

Chapter 4 of the bill deals with the regulation and licensing of bookmakers in Queensland. It is interesting to note that the MacSporran report made no recommendations in relation to the conduct or licensing of bookmakers in Queensland, and there is no suggestion that there are any illegal bookmaking activities being undertaken. However, despite that chapter 4 outlines a number of changes in relation to the regulation of bookmakers in Queensland. I do note that the minister is moving some amendments about bookmakers. Participants in the industry have suggested that the additional red tape and requirements being placed on bookmakers in Queensland is yet another cynical attempt to shut down the country racing industry in Queensland.

Country racing survives on the back of bookmakers being in place. There are generally only one or two bookies who attend country race meets. They are sole operators who have a reputation that carries significant value to the race meet. They are also a part of the fabric that has earned a place in the hearts and minds of locals and visitors, as their larger-than-life characters make the experience that much more authentic whether you win or lose. Some of these bookies travel many thousands of kilometres between race meets and have enduring nicknames like the legendary Ken Elliot, or ‘Huff and Puff’ to those out west. Where there is also a tote in place, bookies help to drive competition between the odds being offered and also drive growth on the tote as well. They need to be recognised as a vital cog in the wheel that keeps country race meets alive across the state. However, many in the industry fear that the additional red tape that is being imposed in this bill, added to the reduction in fees for corporates, will squeeze bookies out of the game. Racing Queensland’s views on country racing is pretty clear. Page 6 of the Tracking Towards Sustainability plan states—

While country racing provides a social and economic benefit to rural communities, it comes at a significant cost to the racing industry.

Historically bookmakers pay clubs a fee for standing on courses to take bets. Part of the cost-cutting measures being put in place include the scrapping of the On-Course Field Incentive Scheme, or OFIS, which was introduced as the decline in volume of betting on course made it less attractive for bookmakers to stand. Many bookmakers feel that they are under assault from corporates coming onto their patch, and OFIS was away in which they could continue to compete. The scrapping of OFIS is another slap in the face to country racing in Queensland and another example of how this government has decimated confidence across the entire racing industry.  

On-course bookmakers generated a turnover of $35.6 million for the racing industry in 2014-15, which was a decline of $20 million from 2011. Keeping OFIS at a cost of only $800,000 actually gives these guys a chance to compete. Without this assistance many of them will simply stop running a book and country racing would cease to exist. I have heard government members say they value country races and enjoy a day spent there, but I ask: What are they going to do to stand up for our country bookies? Racing officials would know this if they bothered to go west of the Great Dividing Range as part of the so-called consultation that led to the Tracking Towards Sustainability plan which, while not specifically part of this bill, contains elements within it that are to be implemented by the new racing board.

There are only around 140 licensed bookmakers in the state. Racing Queensland’s own observations state that a pro-active approach is required to counter the impact of the rise of corporate bookmakers on the wagering return to Racing Queensland, but then in the same document they scrap OFIS. The ramifications for country racing if there are no country bookmakers at non-TAB races will mean that there are no races.

In chapter 5 investigation enforcement has also raised a number of concerns. Given the track record to date of this government’s decimation of the entire racing industry, it is not surprising that many within it are gravely concerned about aspects of the new bill with respect to enforcement. A letter from Bob Frappell, a distinguished thoroughbred identity, has revealed flaws in the bill which expose the lack of real industry experience and leadership from this government and Racing Queensland. Industry participants welcome animal welfare and integrity measures but are concerned about search powers which are greater than those of the police in some circumstances, particularly given the actions of the government to unfairly overhaul the harness and thoroughbred industry’s integrity regime. He says—

The ALP’s Racing Integrity Bill has some very draconian sections which the government has failed to mention. A close examination reveals the powers in this bill will give them more power than the Queensland Police Service and make the VLAD laws look like a set of school rules. Without the occupier’s consent or a warrant, an authorised officer may gain access to any property at any time.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms Farmer): Order! The level of conversation in the chamber is rising. Could people keep the volume of conversation to a minimum so that we can hear the member for Currumbin speak.

Mrs STUCKEY: These sections give the integrity staff the power to enter any place that has any connection to any part of the racing industry, even indirectly and even if you are not at home. The stopping or moving vehicles division applies if an authorised officer reasonably suspects or is aware that a thing in or on a vehicle may provide evidence of the commission of an animal welfare offence or another offence against this act or the Racing Act, giving them the power to stop any vehicle anywhere for any reason whatsoever.

Powers over race clubs have caused addition angst, especially amongst those clubs scattered across the state. A lack of consultation west of the divide in particular has added to this recipe of discontent and mistrust . Provisions in this bill allow the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission to provide written directions to licensed clubs which may be with regard to the operations of the club or the licensed venue licensed to the club. If the minister would just let me finish instead of interrupting—

I never interrupted her—

I would say that I am aware there are amendments to be moved. Failure by a club to comply with a direction issued by the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission would in this bill be a ground for disciplinary action, including the cancellation or suspension of the club’s licence. Further provisions would allow QRIC to issue a club with a show cause notice upon believing a ground to cancel or suspend a licensed club’s license exists and to stipulate the requirements for a licensed club when holding an race or betting meeting. Failure to comply with this provision would constitute an offence.

In basic terms, the bill outlines a very broad disciplinary process that is wide open to abuse of powers, giving the integrity commission the power to shut down not only the racing side of the club, but its other potential revenue streams like bars and functions, plus it allows them to shut down non-racing related businesses. These are a few examples that raise genuine concerns, and I am very pleased that the minister has listened to those. The minister has been reported as saying there is no intention to use them. The minister may have listened a lot more than her predecessor, but we really hope that she will continue to do so. As Mr Frappell said-

Imagine if these powers were in the hands of a vindictive or vengeful megalomaniac that tried to force a club or stakeholder to do something to which they were philosophically opposed. We could have a situation that anyone that was opposed to a certain proposal would be victimised with no redress.

I find it interesting that Mr Frappell, who I am quoting, was the very gentleman who was verballed during the hearing, so perhaps we could hear him out this time. He also said —

We could also have the situation that if they do not like you or wanted you removed from any position or any part of the industry you would not be able to prevent it.

This Racing Bill has outlined a catastrophic future.

I move now to animal welfare. As I have sated on numerous occasions, Queenslanders were horrified by the live baiting scandal that was exposed on the Four Corners program on 16 February 2015. No-one denies that animal welfare and the integrity of the racing industry are fundamentally important and crucial to the ongoing operation and success of the industry.

Ms Grace interjected.

Mrs STUCKEY: Minister, it really is very distracting to have you carrying on in the background like that.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms Farmer): Order! Members please direct their comments through the chair.

Mrs STUCKEY: I find it very distracting to have the minister continually ranting on.

Even the greyhound industry acknowledges that fact. In their submission to the parliamentary committee the Queensland Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers’ Association—I note that the minister keeps mumbling. She is not even interested in what the greyhound owners have to say. They stated—

While the QGBOTA is supportive of change and improvements that are industry best practice to animal welfare, racing integrity and strategic management, it is highly concerned that the changes will not go far enough, nor has the greyhound industry been engaged in the process. The QGBOTA has developed its own Strategic Plan and Code of Conduct for the greyhound industry and its members.

Our executive over the past series of elections in Queensland has sought and met with elected officials from both sides of politics, raised the exact matters that seek the need for reform and change, but have been ignored.

While changing the current structure is required, we are concerned that there is a continuance of ignoring the greyhound industry’s concerns and needs.

The greyhound industry feel that they have been marginalised and that they have been left out of the consultation process when it comes to helping to clean up their own industry. At my racing round tables, greyhound representatives speak strongly about their desire to get rid of those who do not uphold high standards of animal welfare. This is patently obvious with their submissions and the various meetings I have had with industry participants and leaders over the past 12 months. Their submission to the committee added—

Over the past 12 months the greyhound industry has been under attack. It’s one thing condemning the industry for live baiting, we agree it is an abhorrent practice. But what time has told us is that it isn’t wide spread, less than one half (0.5%) of the industry in Australia have been found live baiting.

The greyhound industry is no different to any other part of society where people will ignore the rules and take the law into their own hands.

Without doubt, this is an emotional issue. No-one wants to see images of animals being treated inhumanely or hear and read reports of animal abuse. Unfortunately, there are those in the community who think prohibition is the only answer. That argument has been proven to fail time and time again.

Tucked away, though, in chapter, ‘Amendment of acts’, is probably the most contentious aspect of this bill: the composition of the new racing board. Without doubt, this has created public vocal opposition, and not just here in Queensland. It has attracted comments from Racing Australia chairman John Messara, who made the following statements in relation to the changes to Courier-Mail journalist Nathan Exelby on 26 February this year. The article states—

‘I am dubious about the rationality of one seven-person board governing the three codes,’ he said. ‘The culture of each code, for one thing, is so different from the others

and having only one representative out of seven for thoroughbreds seems a serious under-representation.’

Messara acknowledged that integrity is ‘acutely important to the sport’ and the high expectations demanded by the community, but said he didn’t think ‘bureaucratising the function will achieve a better outcome.’

The article continues—

‘While I am not privy to the finer detail of Queensland’s proposed model, I am personally not in favour of having one integrity unit undertaking those functions for the three codes,’ he said.

‘There are different rules, different animals and very different participants between the three codes. We have resisted this model being introduced into NSW and we think this has paid dividends in terms of the efficacy of our integrity net.’

A series of questions was asked of the department by the committee in relation to the Racing Queensland board specifically. What is the rationale for having seven members on the board? What is the significance of having seven members? Are there practical reasons why the board could not include additional members to allow greater representation of country racing or other racing interests? What is the rationale for requiring that four of the board members are non-industry members?

National Parks responded with a standard line that clauses relating to the independence of the board are directly in line with recommendation 2 of the final report of the MacSporran inquiry. The example of the Australian Stock Exchange Corporate Governance Council in its corporate governance principles and recommendations was put forward. While this may well be the case, the Queensland racing industry overwhelmingly—

Mr Byrne interjected.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: I ask the Minister for Police to cease interjecting.

Mrs STUCKEY: Queensland’s racing industry overwhelmingly rejects this, as do most other Australian states except Tasmania. Tasmania is a beautiful place, but it is not exactly famous for its racing. Why are we not aspiring to states like Victoria and New South Wales? With regard to the question posed to the department about country racing, when asked, ‘Can you explain how the interests of country racing are represented in the current administration of Queensland Racing and how will the interests of country racing be fairly represented under the new administrative arrangements proposed in the bill?, ‘ he department responded that current representations through the Country Racing Association will not be impacted by the bill or the new regulatory structure.

However, given the diminished representation of the three codes on the new board, surely country racing deserves a boost in its representation. I note that a minimum amount of Ubet revenue allocated to country racing is to be specified in the bill. What is of concern, though, is the fact that country racing funding will now come from Treasury coffers and not Racing Queensland. What guarantee can the minister give that country racing funding will continue past the four years —or the two years she actually guaranteed in her speech tonight?

David Whimpey, the CEO of Brisbane Racing, gave a very well researched presentation to the committee on 17 February, when he tried to reason how MacSporran came to his decision to abolish the current board structure, noting that MacSporran had oscillated considerably before coming to his final decision. Mr Whimpey noted—

...why did MacSporran not consider disbanding the all-codes model and leave the code boards in play? There is absolutely no discussion in any of his rhetoric around that. The obvious answer is that it was outside of his scope, yet we have formed this very clear conclusion

...There was no discussion, just a simple conclusion based on his quote above that the all-codes model was ambiguous and ineffective

...We ask the committee to address this issue in their deliberations. We ask that they consider that, like every other states with the exception of Tasmania, the codes are actually controlled separately.

He said—

Forcing the codes together at the control body is like saying the NRL, AFL and soccer should come together. They all kick a ball, right? A professor I met with yesterday at lunch came to that same conclusion, but they have a very different history, a very different strategic future and a very different way of doing business.

Mr Whimpey continued—

On page 4, item 28, he states- ‘The success of the proposed model will depend very largely on the calibre of the personnel.’

He said—I find that extraordinary. He has also said in the previous seven quotes that the current regulatory framework is fine but personnel failed. I find that to be an amazing disclaimer. The success of this new legislation will, in large part, rely on the personnel.

In recent weeks we have seen an example of wrong personnel selection. Within two days of the minister announcing her hand-picked choice for the thoroughbred representative on the interim board, he had to resign. There are dark clouds hanging over the minister’s own integrity and her business relationship with her choice of interim board. On her pecuniary interests register it is there under ‘Shareholdings or controlling interest in companies’: Flagship Investments. The minister until today failed to reveal whether she sought advice from the Integrity Commissioner prior to making this appointment or if she declared the relationship to cabinet. Her office was reported in The Australian of 8 April as saying that the fact the minister and Mr Wilson had served together on boards was not a conflict of interest. That was not an answer to a question - a serious question, I might add.

I want to place on record that the LNP has no issue with the integrity of new board chair, Mr Wilson —he is a highly respected businessman—but it is critical, when this industry’s integrity has been forced into the spotlight by the Palaszczuk government, that the minister’s own integrity be beyond reproach. This is —

Ms GRACE: Madam Deputy Speaker, honestly. I find personally offensive this imputation that is being made across the chamber. The remarks are personally offensive to me and I ask that they be withdrawn.

Mr STEVENS: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. There was no personal reflection at all involved in the member’s remarks.

Ms GRACE: My integrity was questioned.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms Farmer): Order! The member has asked for the comments to be withdrawn.

Mrs STUCKEY: I withdraw. This is an industry, we would all agree, that relies on its integrity as being the cornerstone to drive confidence and certainty going forward. For that to happen, everyone—I mean everyone—including the minister, should be ever vigilant and make sure they disclose clearly. I do call on the minister—

Ms GRACE: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. I think the comments imply that I have not disclosed everything. That is completely misleading. I take personal offence and I ask that the comments be withdrawn.

Mr STEVENS: Madam Deputy Speaker, there was absolutely, categorically, no personal reference in those statements by the shadow minister to the member.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: I disagree. The member has found the comments offensive. I referred to this before. We can go to and fro in this chamber and keep on asking for apologies. I ask the member for Currumbin to keep in mind that some of the comments she is making are going to elicit this response. If we are to keep moving on in this debate, the member could temper her remarks. I ask the minister, aside from the quite valid requests for withdrawal, to cease interjecting.

Mrs STUCKEY: Perhaps to be able to settle this once and for all, I very politely ask for the minister to table the response from the Integrity Commissioner to ensure that any conflict of interest that has been reported in the newspapers has been appropriately managed and disclosed, and I ask that with respect and politeness. Applications for board members were open for months and the minister’s selection makes a complete mockery of the process. It exposes Labor’s true agenda—jobs for mates—and is another kick in the stomach for an industry that has had enough of being bashed by this vitriolic government. The minister and the Palaszczuk government were warned many times by individuals and organisations within Queensland’s racing industry of the dire consequences of failing to listen and consult. Now they have to make amendments to the criteria for board members. I go back to Mr Whimpey and the MacSporran report. It states—

On page 26, point 190 states— ‘From this perspective it is fair to say that the machinery of legislation, policies, and rules of greyhound racing, subject to comments made above, adequately guard integrity and animal welfare, however it is the execution of a system of monitoring and enforcing that has completely failed.’

He said— We agree with that. Considered in this light, at page 16, point No. 106, MacSporran states —

‘Considered in this light, arguably the current regulatory framework is well placed to detect, assess, mitigate and prosecute all breaches of the Racing Act and other relevant legislation.’

He goes on further at page 16, No. 107— ‘The prevalence of noncompliance is explained by ineffective role clarification and poor execution of strategy and prioritisation of resources.’

Whimpey says— Those are seven great quotes from MacSporran himself. We must, therefore, ask the question: why change this legislation? Queensland should be very proud of its legislation. After all, it has taken us over 150 years to land here. Our forefathers arrived at this for very good reason. We must, therefore, caution any change, though we are not resistant to change.

As I said, that is a very detailed presentation given by Mr Whimpey from the Brisbane Racing Club. A question on notice taken at the 11 December hearing relating to other jurisdictions’ board structures was yet another example of why this bill cannot be supported.

Government members interjected.

Mrs STUCKEY: Honourable members opposite are obviously not interested at all in hearing about a question on notice reply. Laziness and unwillingness to supply well researched information highlights once again the lack of experience in Racing Queensland. Anyone could have cut and pasted the reply from interstate websites. Included in the answer alongside the racing board composition of other Australian states were examples of Stadiums Queensland and Queensland Rail. Why wasn’t Tourism and Events Queensland included? I would like to see the Palaszczuk government even trying to put people without any serious tourism experience on that board and see what the industry said, but let us see who is on there. We have Mantra hotel’s Bob East as the chair, Brisbane Airport’s Julieanne Alroe, Gold Coast Airport’s Paul Donovan, Kingfisher Bay Resort’s Gary Smith, One&Only Hayman’s Anna Guillan, longstanding member Professor Judith McLean, Outback Tourism’s Karen Hanna Miller and Cairns cruise operator Michael Healy, who was the failed Labor pre-selection candidate for Cairns but he is lining up again, I hear, against Rob Pyne.

All of those people on the Tourism and Events Queensland board have current active tourism experience and if you tried to push anything other on to the tourism industry you would have trouble. Can members imagine a tourism board without tourism industry people? Will the Minister for Tourism speak against this bill? I note her department was not even consulted about it despite racing events being among some of Queensland’s biggest. There is the famous Birdsville Races which the LNP elevated to major event status, the Gold Coast Magic Millions which the LNP made into Australia’s richest race day, the atmosphere of the Cairns Amateurs and the stunning BRC Winter Racing Carnival. My counterpart in Victoria’s parliament told me that they also had live baiting issues. They commissioned two independent inquiries, but their new legislation leaves the structure alone except for greyhounds. Greyhound integrity officers were removed out of the Racing Victoria body. He doubts that the proposed Queensland structure will work. How can a board with one representative from each code have proper industry involvement? Victoria takes its racing industry seriously and wants to see it grow—unlike Labor, who has made it the laughing-stock of the eastern seaboard.

I refer to page 7 of the Agriculture and Environment Committee report that a lack of consultation regarding this bill was a common issue raised and it is truly disappointing to read the indifference to genuine concerns of industry representatives. The committee commented—

Consultation with the racing industry, community organisations and individuals should have been an intrinsic and routine part of the policy and legislative development process for the Racing Integrity Bill. Regrettably the Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing did not consult with community or industry stakeholders or the public in relation to the provisions in the Bill. As a result, racing industry participants such as turf clubs, animal owners, jockeys,  breeders and trainers, and the bodies representing them, were excluded from the Bill ’s development.

How can government members opposite support a bill when the parliamentary committee made up of government, opposition and crossbench members makes such a damning criticism in its report? There it is in black and white—no consultation of the very people that this bill affects. The committee’s comments continue on page 8—

The department chose instead to rely on consultation processes conducted as part of the Commission of Inquiry. That inquiry focused on greyhound racing, not the entire Queensland racing industry ... This omission by the department is particularly regrettable for the State’s horse racing interests.

‘Particularly regrettable’: that is what the report says. Honourable members opposite need to tell people that when they lose their livelihoods. Tell that to the good folk who travelled hundreds of kilometres to meet with me in Mareeba and Cairns last week. Club representatives and trainers came from Cooktown, Mount Garnett, Atherton and Gordonvale, just to name a few. All were pleased at last to have an MP to talk to. All are bitterly opposed to this bill. I know how much they want their local MPs for Cook and Cairns to support them and vote this bill down. I want to thank the honourable members for Cairns and Cook for meeting with me. The racing industry in Far North Queensland is counting on them to stop this bill so proper industry consultation can occur. Please do not let them down. I also want to thank the efforts of industry stakeholders who formed QRUG for the sole reason of giving the racing industry a united voice in the hope that this Labor government would finally listen. I say to all of those hundreds of members: I hope you have heard the sniggering of government members in this House tonight and their disrespect for you and the racing industry. I thank the department and the minister’s staff for giving me briefings this week. I found them most helpful and I am very interested in the information as we progress.

In closing—you will all be relieved about that, won’t you?—this bill is yet another example of stick-before-carrot approaches that have crucified confidence and outraged an industry that was being very patient and very polite while this government dithered all through 2015. Show me any other industry —show me any other industry—that was put on hold for so long that could survive. If it was not for the dedication and passion of so many racing folk, it would not have. Mind you, the Premier said in June that the industry had to start from scratch, but little did we know they were going to rip it apart.

The LNP will not be supporting this bill. We will be supporting Queensland’s racing industry, unlike government members. I urge honourable members for the sake of this industry to oppose this bill and do what is right, and that means listen to Queenslanders for a change instead of berate them.


Join Us on Facebook

Racing News

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Getaway & Go Racing &
Day at the Races FREE Ratings
BN: 55127167

Login Form