BY JOHN LINGARD, Editor, letsgohorseracing

INDUSTRY stakeholders and the racing public are urging new Racing Minister Bill Byrne to extend his independent review into Racing Queensland’s disgusting failure to uncover live baiting which was unearthed by Animal Liberation Queensland.

They want the new Labor Government to also examine the RQ Integrity Department’s handling of the cobalt swab situation and to have RQ Chairman Kevin Dixon questioned over serious allegations doing the rounds about the new TAB deal with Tattersall’s, alleged favoritism to clubs loyal to the current hierarchy and the lack of consultation and information provided from the Deagon bunker.

Byrne has already indicated the likely appointment of senior independent figures to ensure the industry is cleaned up. The greyhound debacle – and failure of RQ to act on information received from Animal Liberation Queensland and the RSPCA – is just the tip of the iceberg with the problems confronting the industry.

Much of this has occurred under the watch of RQ Chairman Kevin Dixon who needs to be exposed to extensive questioning at an independent review and questions need to be asked as well of his association with former Treasurer Tim Nicholls, former Racing Minister Steve Dickson and the LNP Government despite claims by Dixon that he is a-political.

Anger is growing at suggestions by RQ that they will provide $1.5 million of industry funds for Integrity Commissioner Jim O’Sullivan to investigate the ‘live baiting’ controversy. Those close to the action have been quick to point out that Jim O’Sullivan was on the selection panel that put the current Greyhound Board in place and say there would be a major conflict of interest for him to determine their future. A similar Board in NSW has been stood down, the one in Victoria will soon be stood down (if media reports are correct) but in Queensland we sit on our hands. Questions should be asked of Greyhound Board members, like Steve Hawkins (a close friend of Kevin Dixon and major greyhound owner-breeder) whether they were aware of the live baiting allegations and what they did about it.

Jim O’Sullivan is not the one to investigate the greyhound debacle. There needs to be an independent person brought it. Barry Taylor is a lawyer with a racing background, who served on the Racing Queensland Board before resigning in protest over the lack of consultation on the TAB deal. He has no ties with greyhound racing and would ensure the sport was cleaned up and those responsible for this mess shown the door.  

Heads need to roll – not only over the greyhound debacle but many other things that have occurred since Dixon took over three years ago. Forget about the positive slant his mates in the media put on everything he does. Those pedaling that propaganda now want to be part of bagging the crap out of greyhound racing. They were the ones who should have been doing their jobs and investigating these allegations long ago – not leaving it to an ‘angel of mercy’ – a young woman from Animal Liberation Queensland to expose what everyone knew was happening. That was Hayley Cotton - pictured above right in the Gold Coast Bulletin.

Nathan Exelby the Racing Editor of The Courier-Mail is playing catch up with his colleague Brad Davidson of the Gold Coast Bulletin. If you want to read the great inbalance in reporting – log on to News Limited and read reports from both. It was Davidson who revealed the plans by the Minister to have an independent review. Not only did Exelby miss that one – for some reason – but when he followed it up a day later it was the last paragraph of his story and he was quick to add that the Minister would not speculate on the future of RQ officials – man of whom everyone knows are his mates.

As Brad Davidson correctly reported in the Gold Coast Bulletin:

SPECULATION has been rife in recent weeks that Dixon’s position at RQ could be in jeopardy due to his alleged ties to the former government and the controversy surrounding the live baiting issue won’t help his cause.

Bill Byrne is no dill but has been handed a poison chalice. He needs to dodge the Dixon coat-tuggers and show the RQ Chairman (pictured above left by the Gold Coast Bulletin) the door sooner rather than later. Dixon supportes have already gone into over-drive to protect ‘little King Kev’ spearheaded by the club chairman who benefited most from the decision-making of his hierarchy.

Animal Liberation Australia has outlined five important things that have happened since the ABC 4 Corners expose was aired. They include:

  • 100,000 people signing a protest petition.
  • Dozens of trainers being suspended.
  • The industry's prestigious awards nights being cancelled.
  • The entire board of Greyhound Racing NSW being stood down.
  • Sponsors backing out.

And critically, thousands of animals will now be spared from the most terrifying ordeal imaginable. Pressure is mounting on the future of greyhound racing. Regardless of what happens this is a disaster of ‘Fine Cotton’ proportions for this so-called sport.

If Queensland doesn't act quickly confidence not only in greyhound racing but the administration and integrity of the three codes will be lost forever. It's time for a change at the top Mr Minister.