THE Chief Commissioner of the new NSW Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission says new rules introduced for the sport will be ‘tough but fair’ and says participants will have to abide by them if they want to be involved in the industry.
Alan Brown was appointed to the top job in September and says the Commission, which is based in Bathurst, is working hard to get every thing in order before it becomes fully operational from July next year.
It won’t be long before the CEO, Chief Vet, Chief Steward and the head of legal are appointed to their new roles as applications have already closed and interviews are underway.
“We’ll have the four positions locked in by early next year,” Brown told Australian Racing Greyhound.
Once up and running the Commission will have 60 full time staff – 40 of which will be located at the Bathurst headquarters which Brown conceded should help the authority body stay out of the spotlight.
Among the positions will be 20 full time stewards, 11 full time inspection staff, nine licensing and registration staff, three full time investigators and six legal and policy people.
“The Commissioners will be based in Sydney but they will have a lot to do with with what’s happening at Bathurst,” Brown said.
“Senior staff will report to the CEO other than the Chief Steward and the Chief Vet – they report to me.”
Brown comes into the role as the former Chairman of Racing NSW and Racing Corp, the latter dealing with any issues which arise between the TAB and the three codes of racing and the allocation of funding between them.
Brown says he senses a willingness within the greyhound industry to change for the better.
“The general feeling within the industry is that people want another chance and that they are prepared to adapt and change and weed out those doing the wrong thing,” he said.
“People understand that’s the only way to have a licence to continue to participate in the industry.
“The Commission has been given strong powers of enforcement in the new Act and the people who do the wrong thing will be putting the rest of the industry at risk.”
GRNSW has recently drafted a code of conduct which has been given to the Commission. Once finalised, the code will be enforced by inspectors of the Commission and will detail harsh penalties for those participating in live baiting and using animal carcasses.
It will also tackle issues such as a new licensing and accreditation scheme, euthanasia and overbreeding, although when quizzed on the breeding topic Brown admitted the Commission needs to find the right balance to en-sure numbers can sustain the industry.
“There needs to be a balance there – some encouragement for breeders to return to the correct numbers of litters and ensuring that those which don’t make the track are re-homed.”
Brown mentioned a bond scenario is being looked at ‘to give dogs a value after racing’.
“What that bond should be is a matter which will be given a lot of thought to.
“The commission has not been established to put the industry out of business, it is there to ensure that the industry has the opportunity to thrive in an environment where the welfare of the dog is paramount.”
Brown is hopeful the NSW code won’t cause the same issues as the draft Code of Practice did in Victoria earlier this year and says an advisory committee will be established to communicate with the controlling body throughout the Code’s development.
“There were some issues with the proposed code in Victoria and we are hoping not to make the same mistakes.
“That’s why it’s important to liaise with everyone with an interest in the industry and those who are concerned with the protection of the greyhound to ensure what it contains is something everyone can live with.”
Overall, Brown feels participants should not be too concerned, believing the key to enforcing change will be properly educating people on the new rules.
“I don’t think there are going to be standards which participants can’t achieve – I think it will be fair on participants and much fairer on the greyhound.
“If people want to remain within the industry there will be a wonderful opportunity to do that where people can be proud of the image which is being created.
“The Commission will overhaul how the industry operates. Our role will be to ensure we promote and protect the welfare of the greyhounds and to safeguard the integrity of the industry – the racing and the betting side of it.
“We have got to build up the public’s faith in the industry again and the way we’ll do that is by hopefully bringing the participants along with us.”