Greyhound special commission tapers off – but to what?

THE Special Commission’s second and presumably final public hearings ended last week along predictable lines. Long and often tortured questioning concentrated on who knew what and when about live baiting and on the recent change to steward reporting instructions.

Former CEO Brent Hogan and some staff were involved, as was an RSPCA spokesman. The substantive bits were that stewards were ordered not to mention track deaths under the old regime but they must under the new system. This is factually a very small clerical matter but the overall policy does have substantial implications.

The question of how much the old board (ie in 2010) knew about live baiting accounted for a lot of time. The issue was really a matter of emphasis. Professor Percy Allen has previously claimed it had little real information while the evidence of CEO Hogan tended towards the opposite, with many references to board and management minutes of the day. Another way of putting it is that everyone missed the boat.

These two matters and last year’s somewhat inconclusive discussions of the detail of live baiting incidents pretty well cover the gamut of the Commissions investigations. Of course, we don’t know what has happened in private interviews.

Since live baiting has long since been processed and filed away in other forums it begs the question of what else the Commission can do. The only answer to that is to decide whether the GRNSW organisation was deficient in its actions and whether or not that organisation was adequately structured to address the problem.

Indeed, part of the Commission’s brief is to “develop an improved model of governance of the greyhound racing industry”. However, so far, it seems not to have delved into the options as such. Perhaps that will emerge in its final report.

Meantime, last week’s evidence shows repeatedly that the fundamental principle behind the structure of the NSW industry is flawed. The Act assigns all responsibility to the board – ie a committee of management – and none to the staff yet it seems that the practice varied considerably from that. For example, hiding the news of track deaths would be regard by many as a significant policy matter yet it was handled purely by staff to staff direction. Similarly, the details of various measures concerning live baiting – if any – may well have been passed to the board to “note” but the whole process was totally controlled by the staff.

Personally, I see no great problem in that as that is what managers are for. But it is not what the Act says. Hence the law is an ass – ie it is badly designed.

Of course, the Special Commission is empowered to find that, too. Whether it will or not will have to await next month’s report to the Minister. Either way, a CEO and an organisation that is not answerable to the public is a poor example of governance.

Facts beat emotion

Not for the first time a reader commented that “Trainers know best when to race and how often”. This referred to my numerous claims over several years about over-racing – all well documented. This sounds remarkably like the attitude to live baiting uncovered by the Working Dog Alliance. Trainers simply said “my old man did it so I do it, too”.

As it happens, I have the hard facts. The reader does not.

Bring on the finish on lure

It’s worth taking another look at a couple of races at Shepparton last Monday night. The times were not fantastic but two performances were. Arby (R6) and Jaimandy Hatty (R7) both promising racers, won in an amazing fashion.

They both came out stone motherless, well behind the field, and then proceeded to weave their way through and win well.

My point is not that these are useful dogs (which they are) but that they were both able to get through the traffic. On this occasion Shepparton was trialling the Follow-on-Lure. I wonder if that had some influence by offering more space between runners and so allowing backmarkers to find their way through. It certainly looked so.

Age does weary them

On yet another sad note, Exquisitus fractured a hock in race 6 at Sandown last Sunday. It broke down as it poured on the pressure after moving into the back straight. I have lost count of the number of times this has happened at this track in the same fashion.

As a veteran of 48 starts, Exquisitus conforms to evidence from some vet studies that the fragility of the bone increases with more and more racing.

Hot and cold

Since the running of the Sale Cup at Christmas seven 650m races have been run, all but one for low grade dogs. Three of the winners ran equal or better time than No Donuts (37.69 in both heat and final) while another was not far behind.

This validates the theory that the oppressive weather (40 degrees-plus) on December 20 had a significant effect on dogs and their running times over all distances, especially in the Cup heats. Some six to eight lengths is the estimated impact (as we reported in a post-race article).

The New Year heralded the coming of much tighter rules about racing in hot weather, yet so far we have heard not a word from the club, stewards or GRV about the failure to warn not only trainers but punters who invested faithfully on the Sale events, assuming that conditions would be normal. Subsequent form studies would also have been seriously affected. Regardless of the rules, some comment was warranted.

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Past Discussion

  1. Bruce, page 762 Hogan says that the Minister told the board in no uncertain terms that if they attempted rationalization then he would sack them.

    Is this not the Minister doing what the legislation says he cannot do, and thats direct the board?

  2. Bruce, page 762 Hogan says that the Minister told the board in no uncertain terms that if they attempted rationalization then he would sack them.

    Is this not the Minister doing what the legislation says he cannot do, and thats direct the board?

  3. jeff holland Interesting time lines. The Minister would have had he control of the proposed tax relief in the form of a proposed future fund and also he had a role in converting  the $6.5M owed to the industry by the WP trust into value for the greyhounds at Wentworth Park. The former Chairman of GRNSW resigned as chairman of the Trust over the GRNSW welshing on the Wentworth Park deal and I a wondering wether there was welshing over some deal which allowed GRNSW to get a bigger cut of the future fund allocation. This matter is totally unexplored at public hearings and if I had have been the representative for the country clubs recently I would have wanted to call the Minister concerned and have a position at the 
    inquiry front table.
    For information the current tax relief the all codes is put in a future fund under the Minister which means that applications for funding from the codes need to be  to be in the public interest.  The horse codes totally understand these conditions but the greyhounds seem to struggling with this proposition. The fund after the first five years will contain about $90M to $200 million per annum (depending on tote commission tax relief distribution variations) The first 5 years distribution is factored in at $230 and the percentage factor for the greyhounds is 10% based mainly on what IER measured as all codes contribution to the State of NSW. This above assessment was made in the early period of the five years and reflects the early expansion of the Horses and the downsizing of the greyhounds. After the five year period the tax relief will be at the full $90MillionX by 5 years $450 million which will require a re-assessment of the code percentages and the with holding of some monies in a stability reserve fund ( against income drops). With the expansion of  horses unto the public interest areas and the severe continuing downsizing of the greyhounds it is obvious that if the percentage to the codes of tax relief will show a reduction of percentages to the greyhounds  not an increase, IN other words the greyhounds are on a slippery slope. With the loss of the ex head of treasury from the GRNSW board (after serving the  statutory period) ther would have been a serious loss of treasury reform factors on the board. I suspect that the ex head of treasury had got something for the greyhounds and this was evident in the construction of the strategic plan 2020. The  future fund could have been used to balance the difference between what GRNSW should have been funded under the RDA (inter code contracts) and the future fund but it required an attached strategic plan like the horses showing the advantage of the plan in the public interest.
    While it is true that GRNSW was in breech of its statutory requirements in many ways, is important the non production of a strategic plan is the period mentioned was a financial disaster for the greyhounds. If the greyhounds could have produced a strategic plan in the States interest then they might have got 20% of the future fund or $90 million over 5 years forward under the current circumstances  they could get as little as five percent which would be $22.5 ,million over 5 years, a potential lo of nearly nearly seventy million. (reserve funding not factored in) Wirh $70 million you could build at last ne great centre of excellence for the greyhound in NSW.
    My knowledge comes only from the public record and my experience on related Government reforms involving treasury. On the surface of events made public one member of the sacked board actions appear to show him as a fool in his own right. The rest of the sacked board deserve credit fir resigning.
    Jeff your friends on the Board were either not in power or had not been reelected to the board in the period  when the relative board was  asked to resign.

  4. jeff holland Interesting time lines. The Minister would have had he control of the proposed tax relief in the form of a proposed future fund and also he had a role in converting  the .5M owed to the industry by the WP trust into value for the greyhounds at Wentworth Park. The former Chairman of GRNSW resigned as chairman of the Trust over the GRNSW welshing on the Wentworth Park deal and I a wondering wether there was welshing over some deal which allowed GRNSW to get a bigger cut of the future fund allocation. This matter is totally unexplored at public hearings and if I had have been the representative for the country clubs recently I would have wanted to call the Minister concerned and have a position at the 

    inquiry front table.

    For information the current tax relief the all codes is put in a future fund under the Minister which means that applications for funding from the codes need to be  to be in the public interest.  The horse codes totally understand these conditions but the greyhounds seem to struggling with this proposition. The fund after the first five years will contain about M to million per annum (depending on tote commission tax relief distribution variations) The first 5 years distribution is factored in at and the percentage factor for the greyhounds is 10% based mainly on what IER measured as all codes contribution to the State of NSW. This above assessment was made in the early period of the five years and reflects the early expansion of the Horses and the downsizing of the greyhounds. After the five year period the tax relief will be at the full MillionX by 5 years million which will require a re-assessment of the code percentages and the with holding of some monies in a stability reserve fund ( against income drops). With the expansion of  horses unto the public interest areas and the severe continuing downsizing of the greyhounds it is obvious that if the percentage to the codes of tax relief will show a reduction of percentages to the greyhounds  not an increase, IN other words the greyhounds are on a slippery slope. With the loss of the ex head of treasury from the GRNSW board (after serving the  statutory period) ther would have been a serious loss of treasury reform factors on the board. I suspect that the ex head of treasury had got something for the greyhounds and this was evident in the construction of the strategic plan 2020. The  future fund could have been used to balance the difference between what GRNSW should have been funded under the RDA (inter code contracts) and the future fund but it required an attached strategic plan like the horses showing the advantage of the plan in the public interest.

    While it is true that GRNSW was in breech of its statutory requirements in many ways, is important the non production of a strategic plan is the period mentioned was a financial disaster for the greyhounds. If the greyhounds could have produced a strategic plan in the States interest then they might have got 20% of the future fund or million over 5 years forward under the current circumstances  they could get as little as five percent which would be .5 ,million over 5 years, a potential lo of nearly nearly seventy million. (reserve funding not factored in) Wirh million you could build at last ne great centre of excellence for the greyhound in NSW.

    My knowledge comes only from the public record and my experience on related Government reforms involving treasury. On the surface of events made public one member of the sacked board actions appear to show him as a fool in his own right. The rest of the sacked board deserve credit fir resigning.

    Jeff your friends on the Board were either not in power or had not been reelected to the board in the period  when the relative board was  asked to resign.

  5. John Tracey.

    I missed the edit on my reply so I have put it here as a post. I wish I could construct my writing like Bruce and others on this site. Thanks for your indulgence.
    http://www.livefyre.com/profile/23259817/ Interesting
    time lines. The Minister would have  the
    control of the proposed tax relief in the form of a proposed future fund and
    also he had a role in converting  the $6.5M owed to the industry by the WP
    trust into value for the greyhounds at Wentworth Park. The former Chairman of
    GRNSW resigned as Chairman of the Trust over the  welshing on the Wentworth Park deal and I a
    wondering whether there was welshing over some deal which allowed GRNSW to get
    a bigger cut of the future fund allocation. This matter is totally unexplored
    at public hearings and if I had have been the representative for the country
    clubs recently I would have wanted to call the Minister concerned and have a
    position at the 
    inquiry front table.
    For information the
    current tax relief the all codes is put in a future fund under the Minister
    which means that applications for funding from the codes need to be   in
    the public interest.  The horse codes totally understand these conditions
    but the greyhounds seem to struggling with this proposition. The fund after the
    first five years will contain about $90M to $100 million per annum (depending
    on tote commission tax relief distribution variations) The first 5 years
    distribution is factored in at $230 and the percentage factor for the
    greyhounds is 10% based mainly on what IER measured as all codes contribution
    to the State of NSW. This above assessment was made in the early period of the
    five years and reflects the early expansion of the Horses and the smaller
    downsizing of the greyhounds. After the five year period the tax relief will be
    at the full $90MillionX by 5 years $450 million which will require a
    re-assessment of the code’s percentages and the with- holding of some monies in
    a stability reserve fund ( against income drops). With the expansion of  the horses into the public interest areas
    and the severe continuing downsizing of the greyhounds it is obvious that if
    the percentage to the codes of tax relief will show a reduction of percentages
    to the greyhounds  not an increase, IN other words the greyhounds are on a
    slippery slope. With the loss of the ex head of treasury from the GRNSW board
    (after serving the  statutory period) there would have been a serious loss
    of treasury reform factors on the board. I suspect that the ex head of treasury
    had got something for the greyhounds and this was evident in the construction of
    the strategic plan 2020. The future fund could have been used to balance the
    difference between what GRNSW should have been funded under the RDA (inter code
    contracts) and the future fund but it required an attached strategic plan like
    the horses showing the advantage of the plan in the public interest.
    While it is true that
    GRNSW was in breach of its statutory requirements in many ways is important,
    the non production of a strategic plan is the period mentioned was a financial
    disaster for the greyhounds. If the greyhounds could have produced a strategic
    plan in the States interest then they might have got 20% of the future fund or
    $90 million over 5 years forward, under the current circumstances  they
    could get as little as five percent which would be $22.5 ,million over 5 years,
    a potential lo of nearly  seventy
    million. (reserve funding not factored in) Wirh $70 million you could build at
    least one great centre of excellence for the greyhound in NSW over the five
    years forward.
    My knowledge comes
    only from the public record and my experience on related Government reforms
    involving treasury. On the surface of events made public, one member of the
    sacked board actions appear to show him as a fool in his own right. The rest of
    the sacked board deserve credit for resigning.
    Jeff your friends on
    the Board were either not in power or had not been re-elected to the board in
    the period  when the relative board was  asked to resign.

  6. John Tracey.


    I missed the edit on my reply so I have put it here as a post. I wish I could construct my writing like Bruce and others on this site. Thanks for your indulgence.

    @jeff holland Interestingtime lines. The Minister would have  thecontrol of the proposed tax relief in the form of a proposed future fund andalso he had a role in converting  the .5M owed to the industry by the WPtrust into value for the greyhounds at Wentworth Park. The former Chairman ofGRNSW resigned as Chairman of the Trust over the  welshing on the Wentworth Park deal and I awondering whether there was welshing over some deal which allowed GRNSW to geta bigger cut of the future fund allocation. This matter is totally unexploredat public hearings and if I had have been the representative for the countryclubs recently I would have wanted to call the Minister concerned and have aposition at the 

    inquiry front table.

    For information thecurrent tax relief the all codes is put in a future fund under the Ministerwhich means that applications for funding from the codes need to be   inthe public interest.  The horse codes totally understand these conditionsbut the greyhounds seem to struggling with this proposition. The fund after thefirst five years will contain about M to million per annum (dependingon tote commission tax relief distribution variations) The first 5 yearsdistribution is factored in at and the percentage factor for thegreyhounds is 10% based mainly on what IER measured as all codes contributionto the State of NSW. This above assessment was made in the early period of thefive years and reflects the early expansion of the Horses and the smallerdownsizing of the greyhounds. After the five year period the tax relief will beat the full MillionX by 5 years million which will require are-assessment of the code’s percentages and the with- holding of some monies ina stability reserve fund ( against income drops). With the expansion of  the horses into the public interest areasand the severe continuing downsizing of the greyhounds it is obvious that ifthe percentage to the codes of tax relief will show a reduction of percentagesto the greyhounds  not an increase, IN other words the greyhounds are on aslippery slope. With the loss of the ex head of treasury from the GRNSW board(after serving the  statutory period) there would have been a serious lossof treasury reform factors on the board. I suspect that the ex head of treasuryhad got something for the greyhounds and this was evident in the construction ofthe strategic plan 2020. The future fund could have been used to balance thedifference between what GRNSW should have been funded under the RDA (inter codecontracts) and the future fund but it required an attached strategic plan likethe horses showing the advantage of the plan in the public interest.

    While it is true thatGRNSW was in breach of its statutory requirements in many ways is important,the non production of a strategic plan is the period mentioned was a financialdisaster for the greyhounds. If the greyhounds could have produced a strategicplan in the States interest then they might have got 20% of the future fund or million over 5 years forward, under the current circumstances  theycould get as little as five percent which would be .5 ,million over 5 years,a potential lo of nearly  seventymillion. (reserve funding not factored in) Wirh million you could build atleast one great centre of excellence for the greyhound in NSW over the fiveyears forward.

    My knowledge comesonly from the public record and my experience on related Government reformsinvolving treasury. On the surface of events made public, one member of thesacked board actions appear to show him as a fool in his own right. The rest ofthe sacked board deserve credit for resigning.

    Jeff your friends onthe Board were either not in power or had not been re-elected to the board inthe period  when the relative board was  asked to resign.