Too big to fail…don’t bet on it

IN HIS 2014 report to the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway, the famed ‘Sage of Omaha’ Warren Buffett commented on the rise and fall of conglomerates from the late 1960s onwards and how that rise had been largely facilitated with dubious accounting practices. Buffett noted, ‘For many, gushers of easy money washed away ethical sensitivities.’

One of the clear elements to come out of the latest disclosures surrounding the live-baiting saga, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, is the way ‘ethical sensitivities’ were indeed well and truly washed away. What’s even more disturbing is the admission the people charged with operating greyhound racing in New South Wales (and, frankly, I suspect the same attitude was prevalent across the other states as well) ‘always knew this day would come’ according to an excerpt from an internal email sent between staffers at GRNSW.

So, they were basically saying they were well aware of the inhumane and illegal activities taking place under their control and instead of rigorously policing and rooting out the wrongdoers, were complicit in allowing it to continue.

Let us be thankful the state government’s in Queensland and NSW took the action they did in removing these poor excuses for administrators.

There are certain four-letter words which seem to cause the Twittersphere to go into meltdown if they are uttered in public by some C-grade personality. Yet ‘spin’ is one four-letter word which should send shudders down the spine when it is uttered, unless it happens to be in the context of a cricket match.

According to email exchanges between former CEO Brent Hogan as well as others within the GRNSW office, an external ‘strategist’ (in other words a ‘spin doctor’) with racing connections had been hired (at what cost?) to help manage the fallout from the live-baiting scandal.

Basically it was a way of saying, ‘how best can we cover our collective backsides until this all blows over and we don’t lose our cushy jobs?’

According to one emailed excerpt the ‘strategist’ wrote, ‘We’ll be right, we’ll get through this.’ Ah yes, the ‘we’re too big to fail’ attitude. That comment reeks of the arrogance and complacency that has been allowed to grow up around the administration of greyhound racing across the country.

Invoking the Sage of Omaha again, Buffett stated the ABC’s of business decay are: Arrogance, Bureaucracy, and Complacency. Well, greyhound racing across the country has all three in spades.

Not surprisingly, anti-greyhound campaigner Dr John Kaye, a NSW Greens Party MP, is now claiming the Special Commission of Inquiry headed by Michael McHugh QC is nothing more than a sham. Kaye obviously steers away from any attack on the integrity of McHugh, instead directing his comments to what he calls ‘the credibility of the inquiry process’ and suggesting the NSW government had failed to ‘make an appointment that was comprehensively independent of the regulatory body.’ Agree or disagree with him, his words carry weight.

Public perception in this modern day is possibly even more important than it once was when the public consumed their news by way of newspapers, radio and television. The social media behemoth means everybody with a smartphone and an Internet connection can make a comment about anything and everything and it’s pretty obvious the average person in the street is not a fan of greyhound racing and its participants. One-in, all-in seems to be the mantra these days: that is, there are no grey areas anymore, almost everything is viewed from a black or white prism of purely good, or purely bad.

Ask most people who have no real knowledge of greyhound racing if they think participants are engaged in ‘blooding’ their charges to make them keen to race and the answer would be an almost universal ‘yes’. Right or wrong, that is the public perception. It’s a perception that can only be changed over time if the overstuffed bureaucracy surrounding the sport is pared down, the spin-doctors and strategists are tossed back into the primordial slime from which they emerged, the arrogant empire-builders are shoved into a parallel universe and the culture of complacency is reversed by engaging with the likes of animal welfare groups to stamp out what are not just abhorrent, but completely unnecessary, practices.

Greyhound racing is populated by many good, caring people. Most are content to treat what they do as a hobby and it is those good people who have had to wear the fallout from the utterly reprehensible failure of so many of the well-paid bureaucrats employed to administer the sport. Too big to fail? The ABC of business says otherwise.

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Past Discussion

  1. Great work duncan

    Go get a job at the ABC or SMH. Must feel pretty good putting the boot in !!

    Given your a punter why not do a story on the TAB and corporate bookmakers – why they welch, why they rort every decision to go their way. Ooops that would be a conflict of interest given your employer is on their payroll lol

  2. Great work duncan

    Go get a job at the ABC or SMH. Must feel pretty good putting the boot in !!

    Given your a punter why not do a story on the TAB and corporate bookmakers – why they welch, why they rort every decision to go their way. Ooops that would be a conflict of interest given your employer is on their payroll lol

  3. As Bruce alludes to, we’ll get a watered down report with deck chair shuffling on the Board.
    RSPCA is making noise around Greyhound export. That could be messy, given the former GRNSW vet is/was heavily involved.

  4. As Bruce alludes to, we’ll get a watered down report with deck chair shuffling on the Board.

    RSPCA is making noise around Greyhound export. That could be messy, given the former GRNSW vet is/was heavily involved.

  5. great article, sums up our whole society really, the great american writer Mark Twain once wrote , in times of complete desolation telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
    the only part i wouldnt agree with is being involved with the anti,s they are only interested in our sports demise.

  6. great article, sums up our whole society really, the great american writer Mark Twain once wrote , in times of complete desolation telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

    the only part i wouldnt agree with is being involved with the anti,s they are only interested in our sports demise.

  7. Duncan,

    The E-mails revealed under freedom of information are destructive as you have outlined. The public concern for animal welfare goes well past the greyhound concerns as evident in the current joint parliamentary enquiry into Breeding practices which hardly mentions greyhounds in the large scheme of things.

    The matter regarding Dr Kaye sees him linking a perception of bias over the commissioner in the “Union Royal Commission” which is topical with a possible perception of bias in matters referring to a perception of bias towards the Special commission of inquiry in the greyhounds.

    Perception of bias relies on the observer receiving all the facts. While communications today are readily available on the internet the sorting out of fact from opinion takes considerable time.

    Ministers answer to questions in Parliament and in Inquiries are a good form of factual information as parties are under oath and in the case of the Minister must not mislead the Parliament. This means that more weight can be put on these items than Members private Statements.

    The debate on the subject advanced by Dr Kaye is contained in the prompt below from page 31 to 33. (special purpose no 4 legislative council 3.9.2015). 

    After attending the committee meeting personally as an observer, and being made aware of certain facts I prefer the Minister’s Account to the assertions of the asker of the Question.

    I do agree with the common ground of both the asker and the answerer of their total dismay with regard to the e-mails.

    http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/committee.nsf/0/4C1144F4811DB860CA257EB500290DE9

  8. Duncan,

    The E-mails revealed under freedom of information are destructive as you have outlined. The public concern for animal welfare goes well past the greyhound concerns as evident in the current joint parliamentary enquiry into Breeding practices which hardly mentions greyhounds in the large scheme of things.
    The matter regarding Dr Kaye sees him linking a perception of bias over the commissioner in the “Union Royal Commission” which is topical with a possible perception of bias in matters referring to a perception of bias towards the Special commission of inquiry in the greyhounds.

    Perception of bias relies on the observer receiving all the facts. While communications today are readily available on the internet the sorting out of fact from opinion takes considerable time.

    Ministers answer to questions in Parliament and in Inquiries are a good form of factual information as parties are under oath and in the case of the Minister must not mislead the Parliament. This means that more weight can be put on these items than Members private Statements.

    The debate on the subject advanced by Dr Kaye is contained in the prompt below from page 31 to 33. (special purpose no 4 legislative council 3.9.2015). 
    After attending the committee meeting personally as an observer, and being made aware of certain facts I prefer the Minister’s Account to the assertions of the asker of the Question.
    I do agree with the common ground of both the asker and the answerer of their total dismay with regard to the e-mails.

    http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/committee.nsf/0/4C1144F4811DB860CA257EB500290DE9

  9. Dezzey The world conference of show dogs is being held in China in 2019. The show dog society dwarfs the greyhounds in Australia in Commercial activity, the number clubs , events and entries in stud books. It is true that some of the northern Hemisphere countries have indicated that they intend boycotting the conference over a particular welfare incident and the Australian organisation is following up some concerns and is talking to the Consulate General of China in Australia over the matter.
    The above appears to be an adult approach to animal welfare and in harmony with other welfare matters that benefit from negotiations and trade between countries.
    Greyhound Racing has decided to become a small target by ceasing to hold international conferences but somehow the show dogs which can include greyhounds seem more content to become apart of the community.
    With a hundred million companion dogs registered in China and exports of dogs to China containing a cross section of companion dogs it seems self serving to me for adoption groups to find the problem in China is the lack of adoption groups in the country for greyhounds.
    I think that organisations need to be mindful that Australia in general is welcoming the Free Trade agreements. There is a concern with the unions about workers conditions. In the case of the greyhounds it is difficult to see how Chinese workers would take the jobs of the Greyhound people under a free trade extension as the minimum wage in Chine would be greater than the average greyhound person receives. The particulars of the companion dogs forwarded to Asia (China) are not particularised unless the situation has changed recently but the percentage of greyhounds is thought to exceed the percentage of greyhounds racing annually in China which is measured  in hundreds compared to the Millions overall of domestic dogs.
    There is a strong argument in my view, that the approach of the show dogs would have a lot better outcome for animal welfare than the greyhound only approach.

  10. Dezzey The world conference of show dogs is being held in China in 2019. The show dog society dwarfs the greyhounds in Australia in Commercial activity, the number clubs , events and entries in stud books. It is true that some of the northern Hemisphere countries have indicated that they intend boycotting the conference over a particular welfare incident and the Australian organisation is following up some concerns and is talking to the Consulate General of China in Australia over the matter.

    The above appears to be an adult approach to animal welfare and in harmony with other welfare matters that benefit from negotiations and trade between countries.

    Greyhound Racing has decided to become a small target by ceasing to hold international conferences but somehow the show dogs which can include greyhounds seem more content to become apart of the community.

    With a hundred million companion dogs registered in China and exports of dogs to China containing a cross section of companion dogs it seems self serving to me for adoption groups to find the problem in China is the lack of adoption groups in the country for greyhounds.

    I think that organisations need to be mindful that Australia in general is welcoming the Free Trade agreements. There is a concern with the unions about workers conditions. In the case of the greyhounds it is difficult to see how Chinese workers would take the jobs of the Greyhound people under a free trade extension as the minimum wage in Chine would be greater than the average greyhound person receives. The particulars of the companion dogs forwarded to Asia (China) are not particularised unless the situation has changed recently but the percentage of greyhounds is thought to exceed the percentage of greyhounds racing annually in China which is measured  in hundreds compared to the Millions overall of domestic dogs.

    There is a strong argument in my view, that the approach of the show dogs would have a lot better outcome for animal welfare than the greyhound only approach.