INTERIM CEO of Greyhound Racing New South Wales (GRNSW) Paul Newson held a forum for greyhound racing participants at Cessnock Showground on Sunday.
The meeting provided an update on GRNSW’s response to animal welfare and integrity concerns following on from the live-baiting scandal and gave an overview of what to expect from the upcoming Special Commission of Inquiry into the NSW greyhound industry.
“There are two discreet matters going on. I am leading Greyhound Racing NSW on an interim basis, however the Special Commission of Inquiry has a significant and important body of work to do,” Newson said.
“The inquiry essentially is looking at the governance, the integrity and welfare arrangements for GRNSW.
“In my leadership of GRNSW I must balance the need for immediate change with the agenda and the strategic work that the Special Commission of Inquiry is undertaking.”
The Special Commisssion of Inquiry into the NSW greyhound racing industry was announced last week by NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Racing, Troy Grant.
It will call on heavyweights from animal welfare, greyhound racing, political and police backgrounds and will be led by Commissioner Michael McHugh. It will hold the same wide-ranging powers as a Royal Commission.
Interim findings and preliminary recommendations are due by June 30, 2015 with the final report to be tabled by September 30.
Newson also took a range of questions from the audience which gathered in the old betting area of the Cessnock Showground, with a crowd of approximately 200 participants turning up to hear what the new CEO had to say.
Newson said that GRNSW are trying to secure the future of an industry which is in serious turmoil at the present time.
“There is absolutely no escaping that greyhound racing in NSW has lost its social license and it must be confronted,” he said.
“GRNSW has recently suspended 11 participants and 36 greyhounds. One of the messages I want to convey is that there are no apologies for that action.
“My immediate task is to attempt and strive to recover, to claw back that loss of social license and to reinstall the integrity of the sport.
“From our perspective, it is entirely appropriate and necessary to suspend a greyhound where there is any possibility that it may have been exposed to the practise of live-baiting.”
The suspended greyhounds will not be able to compete or be nominated for any events, sold or transferred into the care, custody and training of any other person until their respective inquiries, which are separate to the Special Commission of Inquiry, are finalised.
“One of the immediate priorities for GRNSW is to drive the outcome of these inquiries to make sure we have an outcome at the earliest time possible,” Newson said.
“We are working with veterinarians to develop a protocol for screening greyhounds to examine what, if any, effects exposure to live baiting has had on them and whether it is appropriate to re-introduce them into competition.”
Newson also said that he is dedicated to communicating with participants during this tough time to ensure the industry continues to recover and grow from the scandal.
“I understand that they have been criticisms from participants in the past that the regulators at GRNSW may not have embraced consultation as widely… I can promise you that I am committed to the engagement process.”
Also speaking at the meeting were Robert Borsak MLC, local MP Clayton Barr, Greyhound Action Group representatives Bob Whitelaw and Tony Gannon and Nationals Candidate for Cessnock Jessica Price-Purnell.
Newson will be holding further forums around NSW on the following dates:
Richmond – 25 March, Dubbo – 26 March, Goulburn – 7 April, Lismore – 21 April, Gosford – 14 April, Dapto – 16 April, Wauchope – 9 May, Gunnedah – 23 May.