Is the Government also to blame for live baiting?

AFTER taking a month off, the NSW Special Commission will re-start public hearings this week, concentrating on the “life of a racing greyhound, injuries and veterinary care”, according to its media release. Just how that might be different to the last lot of hearings is unclear.

No doubt “the life of a racing greyhound” will touch further on the question of alleged overbreeding, and will rely on the same faulty information provided by a (once) confidential circular from Greyhounds Australasia.

The Commission’s brief allows it to look into almost anything to do with the industry but is it competent to do that properly? Past evidence suggests not. There is no obvious greyhound racing expertise amongst Commission staff and no indication it has sought those skills elsewhere.

Much the same can be said of similar Inquiries run in Victoria and Queensland but in those cases the reports concentrated on live baiting alone. However, in neither case did that stop them moving on to the alleged overbreeding. That subject was pulled out of the hat despite the absence of any serious analysis and review. Equally, they called for several changes to the composition and operation of the managing boards even though they failed to demonstrate any experience in industry governance, or even in business management. In the end, their solution – in both cases – was to play musical chairs. The change would be purely cosmetic.

Coincidentally, the NSW Racing Minister has just lodged new legislation dealing with changes to tax rates assessed on racing codes. For the gallops and the trots reductions will apply progressively between 2016 and 2020 to cause NSW rates to drop to Victorian levels (from 3.22% to 1.28%). For greyhounds, nothing much is to happen yet because the Minister has said he will await the report from the Special Commission, which is not due until next March. Even then he will personally decide how much and where any cash saved will go.

The tenor of the Commission’s proceedings to date, and the actions of the Minister, indicate little or no confidence in the industry’s operation. This is perhaps why the target is to “develop an improved model of governance of the greyhound racing industry”.

Fair enough, but are we in danger of having the blind leading the blind? If the Commission cannot adequately assess how the industry operates, or properly audit information supplied to it, how the devil can it come up with better answers?

So far, the input to the Commission has amounted to rubbishy and unchecked information on the one hand and evidence from a very small number of participants found guilty of live baiting on the other. Its attempt to browbeat a former GRNSW chairman about live baiting was inconclusive at best, insulting at worst.

Regardless of the rights and wrongs, both the Commission and the Minister must be seen to be looking fairly and objectively at the problems. That does not appear to be the case. The tax discrimination itself is further evidence of that.

Remember also that the government alone is responsible for the way racing authorities were set up and for appointing the members of their boards. It is all very well sacking people when things go badly but there is also a need for the people who put them there to look in the mirror.

How some lawyers work

Here is a battleground of another sort.

ICAC Commissioner Megan Latham featured in a report in The Australian (Nov13) relating what goes when the court closes its doors. It was presented in a case where the “victim” felt he had been badly treated by ICAC interrogators and was appealing the ICAC decision. Here’s what happened.

“The court was shown a video of Ms Latham addressing a NSW Bar Association dinner last year, urging lawyers to move to ICAC if they were tired of abiding by the rules of evidence, and comparing the commission’s work to “pulling wings off butterflies”.

“On a concluding note, can I say that if any of you get tired of adversarial litigation, inquisitorial litigation is fantastic,” she says in the video. “You are not confined by the rules of evidence. You have a free kick. You can go anywhere you want to go and it’s a lot of fun.”

As it happens, the Special Commission into greyhound racing is “inquisitorial litigation”, too. Not everyone is happy at the way counsels are building up its case. However, following a request from Judge McHugh, the Minister did give him Royal Commission-style powers, which allows the lawyers to use a lot of muscle.

No doubt this is why the opening address from the Counsel Assisting carried threats to “shut down” the greyhound industry. Of course, using the same logic, the Royal Commission into child abuse might well be demanding that all churches and church schools also be “shut down”. Trade unions, too. But I hardly think so.

Legal process

Still on the law, we should record that Michael Byrne QC, formerly a Racing Queensland board member, has just been promoted to the position of Director of Public Prosecutions in Queensland.

Longer is better

Now that three months have gone by a review of performances at Traralgon is possible. Generally, my own figures, based on Grade 6 and better, pretty much match those of GRV.

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Todman
Todman
4 years ago

Definitely Michael Byrne who was sacked from the RQ deserves his promotion,Not

Dezzey
Dezzey
4 years ago

Bruce, What I am reading ad-nauseam, is that you would rather wait until all appropriate data-collection measures are in place and then wait a few years so that data can be be analysed. So business as usual until the data comes back?  You don’t like how the Commission is run, don’t rate the evidence, and stop short of accusing them and the Government appointed SC’s  of bias. Comparing your personal hobby with with child abuse is way out of proportion. As you are well aware the Commission can only make recommendations. If the Government has crunched the numbers and found… Read more »

lone widow
lone widow
4 years ago

Bruce I agree with your comments ‘Longer is Better’. In my experience with greyhounds, the shorter distances were only any good for breaking in pups on the trial tracks when pre-training.  So many trainers today seem to be lacking the knowledge or the ability to train a dog to run out a good 500 meters.
‘Hec Watt’ the trainer of ‘Zoom Top’ said many years ago his pups would run 20 miles a day when free ranged, sadly we cannot do that today.

lone widow
lone widow
4 years ago

Bruce, you have said in a previous article that in your opinion track design so far has been a lot of guesswork.  Your article on friday the13th of november 2015 ‘How to drag greyhound racing into the 21st century’  Is accompanied by a photograph of a field of greyhounds coming around the home turn.
In this photograph the greyhounds have a MEASURABLE lean of 20 degrees.
This is photographic proof of the amount of banking needed to prevent injuries like smashed wrists and broken hocks.  This is no longer guesswork.  How much proof do we need.

Todman
Todman
4 years ago

Definitely Michael Byrne who was sacked from the RQ deserves his promotion,Not

Dezzey
Dezzey
4 years ago

Bruce, What I am reading ad-nauseam, is that you would rather wait until all appropriate data-collection measures are in place and then wait a few years so that data can be be analysed. So business as usual until the data comes back?  You don’t like how the Commission is run, don’t rate the evidence, and stop short of accusing them and the Government appointed SC’s  of bias. Comparing your personal hobby with with child abuse is way out of proportion. As you are well aware the Commission can only make recommendations. If the Government has crunched the numbers and found… Read more »

lone widow
lone widow
4 years ago

Bruce I agree with your comments ‘Longer is Better’. In my experience with greyhounds, the shorter distances were only any good for breaking in pups on the trial tracks when pre-training.  So many trainers today seem to be lacking the knowledge or the ability to train a dog to run out a good 500 meters.

‘Hec Watt’ the trainer of ‘Zoom Top’ said many years ago his pups would run 20 miles a day when free ranged, sadly we cannot do that today.

lone widow
lone widow
4 years ago

Bruce, you have said in a previous article that in your opinion track design so far has been a lot of guesswork.  Your article on friday the13th of november 2015 ‘How to drag greyhound racing into the 21st century’  Is accompanied by a photograph of a field of greyhounds coming around the home turn.

In this photograph the greyhounds have a MEASURABLE lean of 20 degrees.

This is photographic proof of the amount of banking needed to prevent injuries like smashed wrists and broken hocks.  This is no longer guesswork.  How much proof do we need.