RACING Minister Troy Grant, who doubles as Justice and Police Minister, is under strong attack from a normally conservative group, the NSW Bar Association, for introducing a bill related to crime prevention that the Association claims will “restrict a person’s movements” and “potentially endangers the liberties of tens of thousands of NSW citizens”, according to a report in Fairfax Media.
This would give the Minister “unprecedented power in determining legal policy without the historical checks and balances” that an Attorney General might employ, says the Association.
The episode provides a stark reminder of the way the Special Commission into greyhound racing was set up by the same Minister. Key amongst its aims was to establish if it was appropriate “to permit the continuation of a greyhound racing industry in NSW that is sustainable and provides an ongoing economic and social contribution to the State”.
This is a nonsense clause as daily evidence shows clearly that the three requirements are being met. Whether well or not is another matter.
However, such a condition serves to throw doubt over the very existence of the industry, even before all the facts are known. It suggests the Minister has his own views about the validity of greyhound racing – which happens to be very popular in his own electorate surrounding the regional centre of Dubbo. It also sends a veiled message to the Commission that the industry may be guilty and has first to prove its innocence.
If so, the message did get through. Counsel Assisting the Commission, Rushton SC, in his opening address demanded that if certain claims were true that the answer should be to “Shut it down. Shut it down”.
On top of that, as part of the tax equalisation process now under way (bringing NSW in line with Victoria), the Minister has discriminated against greyhound racing by first delaying payment of any benefits and then restricting them to 10% of the total despite the greyhound code providing around 20% of NSW turnover. He justified that by quoting an old report by IER which had nothing to do with productivity or efficiency but was simply no more than an inventory of industry assets (as explicitly stated by IER). Apart from anything else, this amounts to disgraceful economics.
Of course, the Racing Minister, along with the legislation he controls and the board he appointed at GRNSW, is responsible for the development and progress of the industry. So far, he has a funny way of showing that.
Troy Grant is a former career policeman and relatively new to politics.
Comment – some good, some not
We are indebted to reader “Hugh”, who obviously has some technical knowledge (albeit unstated), when he points out that “If a dog can’t equal it’s (sic) performance within 7 days it indicates that it’s still recovering from tissue damage which could be in muscles, connective tissue, cartilage, or many other places”.
This is consistent with recorded experiences with the vast majority of dogs competing in distance races.
As for other folk, I have to agree with the comment about Chrichton Bale, which has just put in two solid runs over the Sandown 715m trip. Having said that, the dog’s previous career was dotted with fading performances over the long trip. Obviously something changed – but what? It would benefit the industry if we knew the answer to that.
However, advancing the worth of Zipping Geoff via three consecutive runs at Angle Park will not wash. It has always been a plodder. It eventually won the local distance championship (following a 4th and a 3rd over the same trip) in a pedestrian 43.51 – a full second, or 14 lengths, outside the track record. The quality of staying races at Angle Park has always been suspect, excepting only when interstate dogs have been involved – going right back to Victorians Arvo’s Athena and Arvo’s Junior more than a decade ago.
Nevertheless, two points still stand out. First, we don’t really know for sure why form degradation takes place. We know what the outcomes are but no-one has systematically studied the subject to determine what actually happens in practice. Second, rule-makers and race programmers continue to ignore the shortcomings by asking dogs to do things beyond their physical capability, thereby creating greater uncertainty, including the “Boomeroo Syndrome”.
In the interests of welfare and other matters, and failing better evidence, the obvious first step is to ban dogs racing within 7 days over long trips.
Personally, I think such restrictions should go further – ie to shorter trips – based on scads of evidence I see on a daily basis concerning dogs which fail to measure up when trying to repeat an effort from a few days earlier. A contributing factor may be that more and more dogs of low ability are competing in TAB races now, but that’s a matter for deeper investigation.
Steward’s Report, Race 2, Sandown April 14.
“Quick Step crossed to the inside soon after the start checking Memphis Dream and Quizzical. Andrej’s crossed to the outside soon after the start checking Cashin’ In, Coalville Tiger and Cosmic Owl.”
Like AFL umpires, stewards might well engage some sponsorship and display OPSM signs on their backs. Their eyesight is a terrible problem. The above comments are typical of dozens of misleading accusations every week which reflect a distorted view of the race.
Four out of five comments about “crossing” are either totally wrong or exaggerated – including the above one. Memphis Dream, for example, was not checked but simply jumped slowly while Quizzical was keen to get towards the rail and leant on inside runners. Andrej’s did move out but had begun smartly and was well clear of other runners at the time. The “checking” had other causes.
In both cases, stewards are noting what happened back in the field and erroneously assigning the responsibility to the dog which jumped to the front. More often than not, the two are quite separate matters. That would be obvious to someone carefully viewing the videos but it may be possible that the person behind the boxes is making the judgment. In that event, it is impossible to obtain a decent perspective of the race.