Jenny - Clean

By JOHN LINGARD, Editor, Letsghorseracing

THE standing down of ‘sacrificial lamb’ Wade Birch, the Head of RQ Integrity, is a small step in the right direction but the real buck stops with the Board of Greyhounds Queensland and the RQ Industry All Codes Chairman Kevin Dixon.

Reports of the political games and manoeuvring that is occurring being the scenes to protect the job of the RQ Chairman only highlight the need for the Labor Government to engage an interstate non-connected Queen’s Counsel or the like to conduct an Independent Review of the greyhound scandal.

Queensland racing and politics are far too interwoven with mates doing deals with mates for there to be any confidence in a Review headed by anyone local – especially if it involves current Integrity figures or former Ministerial heavyweights who have consultancies with certain high profile businessmen linked to Government and the racing industry.


With all due respects to honourable gentleman like the Integrity Commissioner Jim O’Sullivan and former heavyweight Labor politician Terry Mackenroth there are too many allegations of conflicts of interest that new Racing Minister Bill Byrne should consider.

O’Sullivan, a highly respected former Police Commissioner with a background in racing, would be ideal if he hadn’t been involved in the selection process for the current Board of Greyhounds Queensland. That alone should disqualify him from eligibility.

As for the politicians well two former high profile Labor Government ministers are reportedly now consultants to two prominent businessmen and racing identities, one of whom is allegedly working behind the scenes to retain Kevin Dixon as racing’s ‘big chief’.

Sources close to the RQ All Codes Board claims that at a recent meeting involving this high profile politician with RQ Chairman Dixon and his CEO Darren Condon both were given an assurance that their jobs were safe despite the change of Government and the greyhound scandal.

Whilst Condon is generally regarded as having been caught in the crossfire, critics of Dixon say the buck stops with him and have called for the Racing Minister to show ‘no alleged deals have been done’ and either replace him as QACRIB Chairman or stand him down from the job. Many will regard any Review as 'a whitewash' if certain former politicians are involved.

The emails that letsgohorseracing has received in the wake of the ‘greyhound scandal’ and the change of Government send one message clearly to the new Government and Racing Minister – it’s time for some independence in any Review (anything internal is not good enough) and most importantly there is no place any longer in the RQ hierarchy for Dixon and his cronies.

IT was early Sunday morning and the hive of activity at the Deagon bunker didn’t go unnoticed. The jungle drums of the industry were beating loud long before ‘death in the afternoon’ arrived for the first victim of the ‘live baiting’ scandal.

Less than a week after the 4 Corners expose, which Robbie Waterhouse yesterday wrote in the Fairfax Media ‘could see greyhound racing outlawed’, the first sacrificial lamb was sent to the slaughter yards by the All Codes Board of Racing Queensland.

After a hastily convened meeting QACRIB distributed a Media Release advising that the General Manager of Stewarding and Integrity Operations, Wade Birch, had been stood down pending an internal review of the integrity department and its inspection procedures.

QACRIB chairman Kevin Dixon said in the wake of evidence of live-baiting occurring within the greyhound industry, the procedures of the integrity department needed to be addressed.

“Information that has to come to light in the past week suggests there are procedural issues within the integrity area of the business. As Mr Birch is the officer responsible for that department, the board has taken the decision that it is appropriate to stand Mr Birch down while those short-comings are further understood,” Mr Dixon said.

“There is no allegation of improper conduct on Mr Birch’s part, however in the board’s view, it was appropriate he be stood down until the review is completed.

“Racing Queensland will be making appropriate arrangements in the next day to cover the position, with the view to implementing the recommendations of that internal review.”

The Twitter-sphere went ballistic. ‘Wade Birch has just found out how solid his good mate Kevin Dixon is,’ was the instant response from one angry industry stakeholder.

‘Have they found a scapegoat in Birch,” was the comment of another.

‘Why wasn’t the Greyhound Board stood down as well? That happened in NSW. Those blokes must have had a inkling what was going on.’

And finally this little gem: 'Dixon doesn’t care whose head is lopped as long as it isn’t his.'

From an industry and public perspective the standing down of Wade Birch is just a band-aid solution to the problem. Letsgohorseracing understands that the All Codes Chairman had to be urged – some say almost kicking and screaming – into making this decision after a recommendation of such action was made last Thursday.

Just what role the politicians are playing in all of this, who knows?

Here’s hoping the new Racing Minister Bill Byrne only views this as a small step for justice but a big step for animal liberation and the future of the industry – all three codes – in Queensland.

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