As the truth is slowly but surely teased out of the Gordian knot of lies weaved into the fabric of the McHugh Special Commission, it certainly looks as though animal welfare is not the real issue at the forefront of Premier Baird’s unilateral decision.
There are now claims it really is more about money, especially if a radio interview between greyhound trainer Vince Cassar who had discussions whith government chief whip Steven Bromhead, the audio link kindly posted by dogem53 on one of the articles on this website, is to be believed.
There are plenty within the greyhound industry pointedly referencing Recommendation 64 of the McHugh report, which calls for greyhound racing to receive its proper share of NSW TAB revenues. Under a bizarre Inter-Code agreement deal signed off between the three racing codes in about 1998, greyhound racing revenues were pegged at just 13% for 99 years. The deal was slammed at the time and I don’t intend to embarrass the people involved who signed off on this, but they clearly failed greyhound racing in this state in a very big way.
At no time since the advent of the NSW TAB has greyhound racing’s share of the punting market been as low as 13%, and as I pointed out in a previous article it has been as high as 22.9% (1971-72) and has remained at about 20% or more for a very long time.
In 2008, Alan Cameron AM was commissioned by the-then Labor government in NSW to undertake an independent review of the wagering regulations and sustainability of the entire racing industry in the state.
For greyhound racing his recommendation, number 21, was: The three racing codes should agree to amend the Inter-code Agreement to provide that returns to each code from TAB distributions are in proportion to the percentage of wagering generated by each code; in the absence of such an agreement, the Government should over-ride the Inter-code Agreement and the RDA such that the distributions from the TAB are made directly to each code and in proportion to the percentage of wagering generated by each code.
Sounds familiar doesn’t it to recommendation 64 of the McHugh report?
Former GRNSW chairman Professor Percy Allan AM, in his submission to the McHugh Special Commission, included as one of his attachments his media release of February 6, 2012 which was entitled ‘The State of Greyhound Racing and the Challenges Ahead’.
Among his statements was that for the 2011 financial year ‘prizemoney reached $22.2 million – a rise of more than 50% [on 2004 figures]’. Hardly the shrinking returns claimed by Premier Baird to the Daily Telegraph.
Professor Allan did point up the failure to implement the Cameron Report’s recommendation, stating, ‘If there is one regret… it would be the failure to get the NSW Government to enact the findings of the independent Cameron Report.’
Professor Allan would have gained no friends in Macquarie Street when he said: “To this the government refuses to take steps for it to be implemented and that is a great shame since it was government that commissioned the independent report.”
In a 10-page submission to a Parliamentary Select Committee Inquiry into NSW Greyhound Racing in 2013, the Goulburn Greyhound Club wrote: “Greyhound Racing NSW assumed responsibility for animal welfare matters within the NSW industry in July 2009. Prior to that it was the responsibility of successive government authorities.” And they failed badly.
The Goulburn club submission suggested the Inter-Code Agreement made in 1998 was not only not practical it might well be unconstitutional and they estimated that in the first 15 years of its operation “greyhound racing had subsidized thoroughbred and harness racing by over $139 million.” A different amount to that mentioned by Professor Allan (who suggested greyhounds had lost out on $125 million), but whether you accept the lower or the higher figure, the result is the same: greyhound racing has been subsidizing the horses and harness racing ever since that agreement was inked.
By the way, that parliamentary select committee inquiry made the following point about welfare issues in greyhound racing, basically stating it found the incidence of cruelty and neglect is minimal and on the whole greyhound owners take great care and pride in their dogs.
The Latin phrase ‘cui bono’, meaning ‘to whose profit or benefit’ is as old as the Roman Empire, yet it rings true time and time again. Who stands to gain if greyhound racing is shut down in NSW? That’s the real question which needs to be answered.