Time for our leaders to step up or step down to save the industry

Industry Update

A TOXIC relationship exists between greyhound racing participants and the self-appointed leaders who are unintentionally tearing down the sport from the inside.

No, I’m not being melodramatic.

I don’t pretend to know how the entire world works at 24 years of age, but I know enough to see what is going on within the industry and its time everyone else stopped burying their heads in the sand.

The failure of our leaders to fight harder for a fairer deal in the intercode and tax parity agreements has left the industry with a bleak future. We can’t survive past the foreseeable future under these agreements.

What stuns me is the industry’s blasé response to the announcement – the greyhound racing ban in NSW is quickly becoming yesterday’s news, the media are moving on – yet the industry is letting the final opportunity to push for our fair share slip right through its fingers.

Instead, the men at the top are cosying up to the Liberals and Nationals – convinced the government has done us a massive favour by repealing the ban.

But let’s face facts, the government has never given any regard to the greyhound racing industry – the ban was repealed because the Coalition knew they wouldn’t survive the next election unless it was.

However, simply going back to the way it was shouldn’t be enough for our leaders. The government have essentially wiped their hands of the industry by throwing a few million dollars at us and hoping it will shut us up.

Unfortunately, if you read anything from the Alliance, it appears the ploy has worked.

No longer is the pressure on the government, in fact, the Alliance have done the complete opposite by including Liberal candidates in a list of options for participants to assist at three upcoming by-elections.

But why are these people even being given a chance by the industry’s leaders? This isn’t a case of let bygones be bygones – the Liberal Party almost wiped out our beloved industry and only put the handbrake on when they realised they had to save their own skins – so why are we even giving them the time of day?

This is nothing new. Last August, the Alliance and its bandwagon rolled into Gunnedah for Agquip – three days of agricultural displays – to spread the message of the industry’s plight.

At that time, the legislation to ban greyhound racing had not passed through the lower house, with the industry’s presence meant to increase the pressure on the Nationals to force them to oppose the ban.

At Agquip, an Alliance representative published photos on social media of industry participants with Upper Hunter Nationals MP Michael Johnsen. Less than a week later he failed to stand up for the industry, voting for the ban.

In any normal circumstances, this would be the end of a relationship – when someone betrays you, you cut them off. This was not the case for the greyhound industry, obviously, because six weeks later the same man who helped to carry the ban legislation over the line was invited to hand out trophies at the Coonamble greyhound racing carnival.

This is just one example of the industry’s continued ties to the Coalition government and it is the reason why very few were shocked, to hear zero uproar from the Alliance, when Racing Minister Paul Toole welcomed the NSW Greyhound Industry Reform Panel’s recommendations last week, with the glaring omission being that it would not be rectifying the industry’s dire financial position by overturning the intercode or tax parity agreements.

Instead, the industry will receive $41 million over five years – after that we are on our own. Don’t be fooled people – this money isn’t going to boost prize money or help us in any way – this money is going straight into welfare and integrity reforms.

$41 million is less than two years’ worth of the amount the industry subsidises the thoroughbred and harness racing codes.

That’s a little over $8 million per year – and there is still no way of knowing whether this will even be enough to cover the costs of the changes to the industry, such as the establishment of an Integrity Commission and the separation of the commercial and regulatory functions of the sport.

So why aren’t we pushing for more? The spotlight is still on the industry so why are we lying down and accepting the government’s plans instead of speaking up for what we need to survive?

Three paragraphs in an Alliance press release largely targeted towards participants can’t really be classified as putting the pressure on the government.

We need to be doing more and we can no longer rely on the boys at the helm to do the fighting for us – they are too busy having luncheons on Macquarie Street with the same people who nearly ended 15,000 livelihoods.

Thank you to the Alliance, for the good work they have done – this is not a personal witch hunt looking for blood.

But please, if you are not willing to fight this all the way, step aside and let someone else do what’s needed to get the industry back on proper footing.

If we don’t maintain the heat, the government gets away with what they have done – but if we can continue the fight we can send a message that our industry won’t be walked over, and we are not the poor cousin of thoroughbred and harness racing.

If we don’t get these funds sorted, there will be no industry in 10 years’ time – that’s the harsh reality.

It’s all well and good to pat ourselves on the back about getting the ban overturned, but unless things change, and fast, we will once again become obsolete and there will be no point whinging about how awful things have become.

This is our one last chance to stand up and be heard, so lets not worry about hurting the feelings or egos of those who think they’ve saved the sport – because everyone needs to know that the fight is not over and that greyhound racing is prepared to battle to end.

CORRECTION: We previously published that Michael Johnsen had been running the Alliance BBQ. This is incorrect, he was running a Nationals Party BBQ whilst posing with members of the industry and their dogs.

Got feedback? Join the discussion Hide Comments

  1. You've put into words what we all know Katherine.
    It's time to form a union with the other states, they've been very quiet through all this.
    Isn't that what the GBOTA is for? I'm not serious f....ing useless.

  2. Well the penny has finally dropped re the GBOTA, and we have no one but ourselves to blame for years they have accrual our funds to build their empire and its time to show them the door .As for the Alliance the integrity of some has always been questionable and most people have doubts about their process which has always been wishy washy a famous term that Scott loves to use. Burno as far as a Union is concern we don't come under any award which makes the task hard to form a union ,but i agree it should happen, Katherine thank you for being up front about these Pretenders and so called Defenders of our industry that sold us out for a PITTANCE .Its time the Participants stood up with a mass rally again and elect from the floor the people we want to take the fight to these bastards ,lets debate it.

  3. No one from Alliance on here defending their position, my biggest gripe is they were silent when we needed to know what was going on now they are all over the place mouthing platitudes and patting themselves on the back.

  4. Todman All we can hope that the appointment of the new Board and CEO is all above board? or its what the Government set out to do,CLOSE the industry we can not let these proven failures another crack at the top jobs !

  5. As long as Brenton Scott is not involved things might improve, I wonder if he ran for election in politics which party would he align with, 3 guesses and the first two don't count.

  6. No matter what you believe or want to believe no political group cares about greyhound racing,If labor was in when the 4 corners came out foley would of the done the same thing and libs would of done the same thing labor did as they want to get in to government.Now the Fisher, and shooters only changed their name back in April 2016 to include the word Farmers because they new their was a bi election coming up and wanted to run a candidate because they knew both the political parties where on the nose,With out the deal the FFS partie did with labor and CO the nats would still be in power out their.Don.t think in one way they are doing this because they want to,they are doing it for votes,and went to the orange bi election with a promise to help greyhounds.They can not do one thing because they do not have enough members in parliament to cause the government any trouble,the vote process in the NSW parliament is not the it is in Federal where the major parties need the independent to get bills passed.
    so the people who formed to save greyhound racing is doing what it can so in coming years a bill will not be put up again and we will be lead down the same road and let me tell you next time we wont win.
    so by lobbying all parties is the right thing to do so they will be on your side in the next battle they will stand beside you.
    One question to all you people out their who are not happy that greyhound racing is still racing.
    Do you think labor will change the inter-code in 2019 if they win the state election?
    I,ll bet it will be a big NO.as we have had many many governments since the inter-code was signed and non want to change it!
    Do you know why??
    Because if all three codes don,t want it changed the other codes can sue the government who makes them go back to the table to make changes for predicted income for the remaining time left on the contract..
    So just sit down relax stop reading Kim Jun an newspaper and think things over.

  7. Lets talk about corrupt members receiving phone calls/tips from then head of greyhound racing NSW brent hogan about what the stewards were about to do?
    who was that Mr Bob Whitelaw your mate Mr Gannon.

    No matter what you believe or want to believe no political group cares about greyhound racing,If labor was in when the 4 corners came out foley would of the done the same thing and libs would of done the same thing labor did as they want to get in to government.Now the Fisher, and shooters only changed their name back in April 2016 to include the word Farmers because they new their was a bi election coming up and wanted to run a candidate because they knew both the political parties where on the nose,With out the deal the FFS partie did with labor and CO the nats would still be in power out their.Don.t think in one way they are doing this because they want to,they are doing it for votes,and went to the orange bi election with a promise to help greyhounds.They can not do one thing because they do not have enough members in parliament to cause the government any trouble,the vote process in the NSW parliament is not the it is in Federal where the major parties need the independent to get bills passed.
    so the people who formed to save greyhound racing is doing what it can so in coming years a bill will not be put up again and we will be lead down the same road and let me tell you next time we wont win.
    so by lobbying all parties is the right thing to do so they will be on your side in the next battle they will stand beside you.
    One question to all you people out their who are not happy that greyhound racing is still racing.
    Do you think labor will change the inter-code in 2019 if they win the state election?
    I,ll bet it will be a big NO.as we have had many many governments since the inter-code was signed and non want to change it!
    Do you know why??
    Because if all three codes don,t want it changed the other codes can sue the government who makes them go back to the table to make changes for predicted income for the remaining time left on the contract..
    So just sit down relax stop reading Kim Jun an newspaper and think things over.

  8. We keep hearing this "we are still racing so be happy". The problem might be that the deals may have already been basically done to shrink the industry so far that very few will be "still racing"

    The Alliance never didn't own up tot he 2000 dogs breeding limit. The tried to tell us that this was their letter to Baird: http://www.racingtoarespectedfuture.com.au/app/uploads/2016/08/Summary-of-Viability-Letter-31-July-2016.pdf But during the parliamentary debate, several pollies mentioned the 2000 dog limit in the August 9th letter as a key guarantee. The letter the industry was shown was not the one they sent to Baird, and they deliberately misled the industry about the guarantees.

    The question is now, if they've not been honest then, how do you trust them now? What if they've already agreed to closing all but 10 tracks and halving prize money? It could've happened and no one would know. They certainly aren't going to be upfront about it are they?

  9. Wrong Parliament can change the ICD by legislation, point 64 in McHugh report.

  10. I wasn't going to waste my time replying to a Phantom writer known as the wontbackdown1 maybe you should change it to wontaimupzero as your not being open and transparent' with who you really are and sounds like you are very bitter person.One could only come to the conclusion your a stooge from within the old guard that was tossed for being corrupt and negligent or part of the nepotism that was played out within GRNSW for many years.As for Bob Whitelaw no need for alias as i like to be upfront and that's more then i can say for you my friend ? Lets look at some of your points you raised and analysis with some facts that are in the archives at Parliament House re GRNSW. (1) Brent Hogan did make a lot of phone calls to many figure heads in the industry and including his trusting staff when the Live Baiting Issue before it was aired and for those in the know and close to him were to told to batten down the hatches there is bad weather is coming that was the term used, Yes Gannon did ring and said to Hogan i'am getting calls from members of the Greyhound Action Group wanting to know why the ABC were doing at Richmond Puppy Auctions and Wentworth Park interviewing participants on Saturday night and you and Scott should not have allowed these grubs to do this, but you knew that, didn't you! call Gannon and ask him you would have his number.(2) I agree, political parties are out to feather their own nests with wanting to be elected that's the nature of the beast why shouldn't we get on the bandwagon. The Shooters Fishers & Farmers party are the only party that took it too the Government re the Greyhound Industry problems and they were first approached back in September 2012 when they were the Shooters Fishers Party.(3) Then 2013 because the Shooters Fishers at time had the numbers in the Upper House and the O'Farrell government needed them to pass legislation they were doing deals together that's why the Select Committee took place, so your analysis comparing State and Federal is way out of wack. but you knew that, didn't you ? (4) Then we had a State Election Liberal National Coalition lost seats and Labor regained some ground from there massacre at the last election and Shooters and Fishers lost their majority in the Upper House to the Animal Justice Party who only polled *.8% of the total vote ! (5) Hence why the name change in 2016 as they recognized that Farmers were being neglected by the Nat's and the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party were willing to take the fight to the Coalition as they did for the Greyhound Industry and Local Government areas that were forced to merge and with the result in Orange some of that idea got the flick and the facts are, the Labor vote was down by 4%over all in the seat ! but you knew that, did't you !(6) We are not all silly as you make out, we all know the Coalition and Labor are not going to agree to change the ICA ,but there is ways around it and that could happen if the right CEO is put in place at GRNSW. You can thank those at the time for signing off on our good hard earned money and giving it away to the other two codes of racing, as i said before a couple of those Grubs are still trying to hang on ? So Mr Wontbackdown1 give us a call and I'll sit down with you and go through the GRNSW archives again ? then you'll be aware of what is happening around you .regards Bob Whitelaw Ps hope you didn't vote for the Animal Justice Party ? Now i believe Pearson loves raw fish to eat,i find that a little hypocritical don't you shannon, as they say you can't trust politicians? lol