THE New South Wales Government moved to secure the future integrity of its greyhound industry today, announcing a Special Commission of Inquiry to investigate issues of animal welfare and integrity within the sport.
Troy Grant, the NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for racing announced the establishment of the investigative team, which will call upon the heavy hitters in the police, greyhound and animal welfare industries.
The names attached to the inquiry at this stage include the CEO of the RSPCA NSW Steve Coleman; NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Jenkins, Chair of the Greyhound Racing Industry Consultation Group Ron Arnold; and the interim CEO of Greyhound Racing New South Wales, Paul Newson. Stephen Rushton has been appointed counsel assisting the inquiry.
Mr. Grant said the NSW Government was focused on cleaning up the sport and ridding it of the people and practices that tarnished the code in recent weeks.
“The Baird Government takes very seriously the issues facing the greyhound industry in NSW,” Mr Grant said.
“I told Justice McHugh to leave no stone unturned to get to the bottom of the problems facing the industry and offered whatever powers and resources he needs to get the job done.
“Justice McHugh came back to me and said he required these powers and that’s exactly what we have delivered – he now has the same wide-ranging powers as a Royal Commission.
“Today’s announcement underscores the NSW Liberals & Nationals commitment to rid the industry of ‘live baiting’ and ensure animal welfare and integrity are at the heart of the greyhound racing industry.
“The Inquiry will provide a final report by September, ensuring we have a roadmap for the future of the industry in NSW.”
The announcement was also welcomed by the interim CEO of Greyhound Racing New South Wales (GRNSW), Paul Newson.
“The Special Commission of Inquiry will allow for a full analysis of the nature and extent of welfare and integrity issues and how existing systems may have undermined the regulator’s effectiveness,” Mr Newson said.
“The inquiry will review the management and governance of Greyhound Racing NSW including the circumstances that contributed to serious failures in industry supervision.
“Inquiries into allegations of misconduct including mistreatment of animals will continue to be the responsibility of the RSPCA as well as Greyhound Racing NSW overseen by me as its interim CEO.”
The announcement of the Special Commission in NSW comes just days after Racing Queensland welcomed an independent review into the animal welfare issues within the greyhound industry by the Queensland state government.
Victoria is also looking to strengthen welfare and integrity issues, with Minister for Racing, Martin Pakula, and Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford, announcing a broad investigation into animal welfare and allegations of animal cruelty in the greyhound racing industry by Dr Charles Milne, Chief Veterinary Officer of Victoria, last month.
Also in Victoria, Racing Integrity Commissioner Sal Perna has launched an independent investigation — with cooperation from Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) — into industry participants. Perna will also oversee GRV’s investigation into breaches of the racing rules and assist Victoria Police and the RSPCA with their investigation into criminal matters involving animal cruelty.
The Victorian Government will additional allocate up to $3 million from the Victorian Racing Infrastructure Fund towards strengthening GRV’s animal welfare and integrity measures.