GREYHOUND Racing NSW CEO Brent Hogan and the entire GRNSW board were told by NSW Racing Minister Troy Grant on Wednesday night to either resign or be sacked. The move comes just days after a live-baiting scandal erupted that has left more than 30 participants suspended nationwide, with more expected in coming days.
The GRNSW board included Eve McGregor, a corporate lawyer, David Clarkson, George Bawtree, Megan Lavender and Peter Davis. It is understood the board all agreed to stand down, as did Hogan.
It has been reported Grant started calling each individual after 7pm on Wednesday, telling the board members he was acting under instruction from Premier Mike Baird.
They were told that while it was not a personal reflection on them, it was a decision that had to be made due to the magnitude of the situation and the evidence that has been recently presented on live-baiting activity within the industry.
The RSPCA and police conducted raids last week targeting alleged live-baiting within the sport as part of an investigation by Animals Australia and the ABC’s Four Corners program, which televised the gruesome findings on Monday night.
Ten registered participants have been suspended in NSW alone, with the latest to be stood down trainers Majella Ferguson, David Sundstrom and Bruce Carr.
The suspension of Ferguson and Sundstrom follows raids on the Londonderry property of Zeke Kadir where it is alleged live baiting took place. Kadir was one of six participants stood down by the state authority board last week. Carr was suspended after four live rabbits were removed from his property.
It has been reported Troy Grant wrote to each board member, asking them to stand the CEO aside, appoint a new interim CEO whom they should delegate their powers to before standing down themselves.
Of the interim CEO, Grant said he or she “would continue the day-to-day operations and strictly enforce any breaches of the rules of racing including those that make it illegal to live bait in NSW”.
He continued by saying: “The Government takes the issue of animal welfare very seriously.
“It is clear that self-regulation under the current structure and culture within greyhounds has failed.
“I call upon the board members to do the right thing and agree to my request so that we can fix greyhound racing in NSW.
“The Government is committed to ensuring anyone caught blooding their dogs will be kicked out of the sport for life and we will restore the integrity of the industry.”
The changes to the structure of GRNSW come as the sport tries to repair its image.
Earlier in the week, GRNSW announced the establishment of a taskforce to investigate the practice of live baiting. The taskforce will be headed by former High Court justice and eminent legal practitioner the Hon. Michael McHugh AC, QC, and will examine the training methods used in NSW and will oversee the operation of trial tracks within the state.
It will also ensure GRNSW and relevant agencies, such as the RSPCA NSW, have the necessary powers to fully investigate all actions of animal cruelty.
“The review will develop a new model of governance to ensure the integrity of the industry and the abhorrent practice of live baiting is stamped out for good,” Grant said.
“The Government looks forward to taking the review’s findings to Parliament this year.
“During this time I do not want to tar everyone with the same brush, there are many people working in the industry who are similarly appalled at what has been discovered.
“I make no assertions about the current board members or executive. The actions being taken reflect the Government’s belief that now is the appropriate time to shine a light through the whole industry.
“This is not a personal reflection on the current board members or executive and I thank them for their contribution to the industry.
“Allegations and innuendo have plagued the greyhound racing industry for decades and it is time we ended that speculation and ensure the sustainability of the industry and the welfare of animals are paramount.”