AUSTRALIAN Racing Greyhound is proud to exclusively announce the formation of the Australian Greyhound Racing Society, a new national body which aims to provide a clear and transparent representation of the greyhound racing industry.
The Australian Greyhound Racing Society has been founded by brothers Mark and Kevin Pitstock, the latter of whom is the CEO of Race Media, the parent company of Australian Racing Greyhound.
Both men have been growing increasingly frustrated by the lack of integrity, transparency and communication shown to participants by the various greyhound racing organisations in recent years and, in particular, in the months following on from the ABC’s Four Corners program ‘Making A Killing’.
Since the program aired, state governments from across Australia have commissioned reports into the greyhound racing industry and the findings have been focused largely on the mismanagement of the sport, particularly in relation to animal welfare and integrity, claiming that it has failed in its self regulation.
“The sport has been accused and criticised by the inquiries and by the animal welfare groups because they say it is self-regulated, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” Kevin said.
“The industry as a whole, nationwide, has been regulated by the various state authorities who are not put in place by the industry at all, but are put in place largely by the ministers of their respective state governments.
“Everyone is critical of the industry being self-regulated, but the people that led us here weren’t put in place by the industry, they were put in place by the government or small, narrow-minded self interest groups within the industry.”
Mark explained that the recent reports have indicated that what is needed is a national approach to the greyhound racing industry.
“The MacSporran Report (QLD) acknowledged that greyhound racing is a national industry,” he said.
“In Victoria, Sal Perna’s RIC acknowledged the need for a co-ordinated national approach to integrity and welfare, but then went on to address that there is no overarching national regulatory body or legislative scheme governing greyhound racing throughout Australia.”
Both reports deferred to Greyhounds Australasia as the representative of the national greyhound industry, but Mark believes that the organisation does not offer a clear portrayal of the sport and its participants.
“Greyhounds Australasia is made up entirely of the regulatory state bodies – effectively just the independent arms of the government,” he said.
“Greyhound Australasia’s response to the live baiting scandal has been absolutely pathetic – they have had two media releases since the Four Corners program aired in February and one of them wasn’t even in relation to it.”
“As a spokesperson for the industry, we feel that they are hopelessly inadequate and do not represent the interests of the wider participant base.”
Kevin added that participants shouldn’t rely on organisations such as the Australian Greyhound Racing Association (AGRA) or state-based groups such as the Greyhound Breeders Owners and Trainers Association (GBOTA) to be their voice.
“Many people mistakenly think that AGRA, given its name, represent Australian greyhound racing in general – they don’t,” he said.
“They are made up of mainly the larger, richer city clubs such as the Wentworth Park, The Meadows and Sandown – they don’t even represent all of the racing clubs in Australia.
“As a consequence they represent a small sector of the total industry stakeholders and clearly their interests are a lot different to those of the wider participant base.
“In NSW, the GBOTA stopped representing the owners and trainers a long time ago and now manages racing at a number of venues in NSW – they don’t represent the interests of anyone outside of NSW and many of those inside NSW would argue that it doesn’t even represent their interests well.
“They are another administration level within NSW greyhound racing which is unnecessary.”
Kevin lamented that participants currently don’t have any input into the sport which they are dedicated to.
“You guys think you have a voice at the moment, but you don’t,” he said.
“If you think the state bodies are representing you, they’re not, they are representing themselves.
“If you think the GBOTA is representing you, they are not, they are representing themselves.
“If you think AGRA are representing you, they are not, they are representing the major city clubs.
“If you think GA is representing you, it is not, they are only representing the interests of the state authorities.
“This is the only way to have a true, national body that will represent every stakeholder’s views and best interests.”
The Pitstock brothers promise that their group will be a wholly inclusive organisation which will be open to all stakeholders within the greyhound racing industry and will succeed where other industry organisations have failed
It is hoped that, in time, the Australian Greyhound Racing Society can act as the representation the sport needs to communicate between participants, clubs, authority bodies, the government and key policy makers.
“There has been no truly representative body in Australia and the Australian Greyhound Racing Society aims to represent all stakeholders nationally and all participants who until this point in time have no real representation to act as a voice to the government to influence policy and the decisions made during this reform period,” Kevin said.
“We will be a body that represents all stakeholders and that will give us a good opportunity to be recognised by the government and other policy makers to best put forward the interests of the industry and the stakeholders as a whole – without the inherit club and state biases that currently exist and are considered spokesperson for the industry now.”
With keen thought going into the formation of the organisation, both Mark and Kevin are adamant that there should be no need for any sub groups to be formed off the original society.
“I disagree with any suggestions that you need smaller branches or sub branches to make this work successfully,” Mark said.
“I believe that if the correct procedures are put in place then even a small hobby trainer in Coonamble should be able to have their voice heard at the national level. ”
They hope to achieve this through the expertise and knowledge gained through Kevin’s digital media company Race Media.
“Through our experience in online digital media we are confident that we will be able to put processes in place – such as feedback mechanisms and online surveys – that will effectively gather information and opinions from our stakeholders that we can put together to form a reflection of the views of the industry,” Kevin explained.
Both men were also clear that their only motives behind forming the Australian Greyhound Racing Society was to ensure a brighter and more transparent future for the industry.
“We are not a union, we are not a protest group, we are not a militant activist group – we are a professional industry group that hopes to represent all stakeholders on a national level and every single inquiry has reinforced the need for a national approach to greyhound industry,” Kevin said.
“I am committing the skills and knowledge within my company, Race Media, to provide the infrastructure and the digital technology to get this started, but neither of us are guaranteed a position on any board going forward – all that will be handled through a proper, democratic process.
“The Australian Greyhound Racing Society is not about personalities and its not about building personal profiles.
“In fact that is the opposite of why this group has been formed – it is being formed to give the ordinary greyhound participant a voice which has been sadly lacking – and not just since the Four Corners program aired.”
To sign-up and become a part of the greyhound industry moving forward, visit http://greyhoundracing.org.au