THE board of Greyhound Racing Victoria has resigned.
Following an interim report from racing commisioner Sal Perna today, GRV interim chair Michael Harms offered the resignation of the entire board.
The news came just minutes after Perna cleared the board of any corruption or cover-ups during the live baiting saga.
The Victorian minister for racing, Martin Pakula accepted the resignation and announced a new board, led by Ray Gunston, the former CFO of Tatts Group and interim CEO of the Essendon Football Club.
Pakula said that the outgoing board’s interim chair, Michael Harms, knew GRV needed a fresh start with fresh faces calling the shots.
“I thank the outgoing GRV Board — and in particular, Chair Michael Harms — for their substantial work since 2012,” Pakula said.
“As Michael Harms told me, for the industry to move forward, it requires a fresh start with fresh faces.”
Joining Gunston on the new board will be Ken Lay, former Victorial police chief commissioner and Judith Bornstein, a prominent Melbourne barrister.
Gunston, Bornstein and Lay will replace the former four-person board which included Michael Harms, Jenni Coustley, Geoff Miles and Stephen Silk.
The news of the GRV board resignation comes 24 days after a report from ABC’s Four Corners exposed evidence of live baiting and animal cruelty around the country in the greyhound industry.
The board from Greyhound Racing New South Wales was forced to resign more than three weeks ago.
Pakula was confident the new board would be able to succesfully lead greyhound racing out of it’s current predicament.
“Mr Gunston, Mr Lay and Ms Bornstein are three outstanding candidates who I know will provide the leadership needed for GRV to address the serious issues raised by Mr Perna and Dr Milneh,” he said.
In a statement released after Pakula’s announcement, Michael Harms cited the need for change when explaining the decision to resign.
“Whilst the office of the Racing Integrity Commissioner stated that there is no evidence that the Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) Board, CEO or senior management knew about the practice of live baiting occurring in Victoria in his interim report today, the Board of GRV has today informed the Minister for Racing, Martin Pakula, of their intention to individually offer their resignations, which the Minister has accepted,” Harms said.
“This is a decision, which has not been taken lightly given the significant work that occurred since the new board was installed in 2012 with the implementation of a new five-year strategic plan of which Greyhound welfare is at its core, but is in the interests of clearing the way for GRV and the Victorian Government to continue to restore public confidence to greyhound racing.”
Harms said GRV had been rocked to its core since the live baiting saga was exposed and that the GRV fully supported the actions taken by the state government thus far.
“It is our firm view that the vast majority of those involved in greyhound racing in Victoria are good, honest people who treat animals with respect,” he said.
“It is disgraceful and unacceptable that a small number of criminals have behaved so heinously, and the Victorian public is right to demand answers.
“As a Board, we fully support the swift actions taken so far by GRV and by the government in addressing and investigating this criminal conduct and welcome the commissioner’s full report in April which we expect will further vindicate the Board’s record of looking after the greyhounds’ welfare since 2012.”
Just minutes before the news of the GRV board resignation dropped on Wednesday, Sal Perna addressed the media with his interim report from the state investigation, dismissing the idea of corruption within the sport’s governing body in relation to the live baiting saga.
“There is no evidence the GRV board, CEO or senior management knew about the practice of live-baiting occurring in Victoria,” Perna said.
He said it would be naive to think live baiting has only occurrd at a private Tooradin training facility, where 15 people have been suspended.
“The weight of information from industry participants indicates the practice continues to occur as a clandestine method of educating, breaking in and training of greyhounds for racing.”