Jenny - Clean

 

THE giant gap between what happens integrity-wise in racing in Queensland and the two big southern states has again been highlighted by the greyhound ‘live baiting' scandal.

Soon after the ABC 4 Corners expose the entire Bord of Greyhound Racing NSW and its CEO agreed to step down after being told to resign or be sacked by Deputy Premier and Racing Minister Troy Grant.

Despite Victoria’s Racing Integrity Commissioner Sal Perna praising the efforts of Greyhound Racing Victoria in a report released on Wednesday, the entire Board resigned immediately and was replaced by a new one.

It smacked of a ‘facing saving deal’ having been done by the Government behind the scenes when a new Board, headed by former Police Commissioner Ken Lay, was named immediately to replace the one that elected to ‘walk the plank’.

Perna, who admitted he still had concerns about an ‘ingrained culture’ in greyhound racing, said ‘ridiculous’ and ‘restrictive’ rules needed to be lifted and called on the Government in Victoria to broaden investigators’ powers in the wake of the damming ‘live baiting’ expose.

 

Sadly, in the eyes of many who follow the three codes of racing, Queensland has been far less proactive. Granted the Government has ordered an independent $3 million review of that state’s industry into how the practice went undetected.

But the Greyhound Racing Board in Queensland has not resigned – as their colleagues have interstate – nor has there been any move by new Racing Minister Bill Byrne or RQ, headed by Kevin Dixon, to make them do so.

Five trainers have been banned for life and the Head of RQ Integrity Wade Birch has been stood down on full pay (virtually an all-expenses paid holiday). RQ hierarchy say they do not believe there is any need for the Board to stand down pending the outcome of the Review. What you would expect of a Dixon-led control body.

This is typical of how integrity in racing in Queensland works. It is similar to the Cobalt swab cases which have dragged on forever. Some believe the industry hierarchy works on the theory if you delay controversial issues long enough these will simply go away or those calling for action will give up.

It’s time the new Racing Minister stopped listening to the Dixon coat-tuggers and those with political influence with agendas in his own Party. The industry wants to see some action on a number of issues - now, not in three months time. This should start with a departmental review into some very damaging accusations that go way beyond the greyhound industry. The latest concerning a high profile industry identity in a major role and a photograph allegedly doing the rounds of him need to be addressed before this gets totally out of hand – for his sake as much as the sport istelf.

But how bad is greyhound racing when Victoria’s Integrity Commissioner admits that ‘rules’ virtually protecting law-breakers need to be changed in order to ‘catch the cheats’.

Perna, who will present his full findings to Racing Minister Martin Pakula late next month, said he still had concerns about ingrained ‘culture’’ in greyhound racing and said the restricted powers of the sport’s stewards and welfare inspectors had to be increased.

It’s almost a though greyhound racing has adopted a ‘coming, ready or not’ approach when inspectors are unable to visit kennels and trial tracks outside ‘reasonable’ hours and nor are they able to conduct commando raids such as the ones used successfully by Racing Victoria stewards.

“The inspection rules are simply draconian and inadequate,” Perna said. “The trainers know there are times they could and could not be visited. Many live in faraway places with long driveways. The dogs start yapping before the inspectors pull up.’’

HOW BAD IS THIS SITUATON

HANDS TIED: Horse racing and greyhound investigators have very different powers.

RACING VICTORIA STEWARDS: Can enter a trainer’s property/stable at any time. It has key access to all stables at Flemington and Caulfield, plus all other stables with pin code access; can leap over fences if entry is denied and can inspect any horse and remove it if deemed necessary.

GREYHOUND RACING VICTORIA INSPECTORS: Can only inspect/visit a kennel or training track at “reasonable hours” (9am-5pm). Cannot “raid’’ via leaping fences etc to catch trainers off-guard.

It makes many who follow greyhound racing question whether those running the show – many of whom race greyhounds – really wanted to catch the ‘live baiting’ dingos who have brought this sport to the brink where many are now calling for it to be banned completely.

 

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