Editorial calling for Racing Queensland resignations spot on

ON APRIL 26 the editorial in the Brisbane–based Sunday Mail newspaper was short and sweet and straight to the point.

Headlined ‘Boards Should Resign’, it began, ‘It’s time for members of Queensland’s All Codes racing board and the individual thoroughbred, harness and greyhound boards to step down. The scandals engulfing all three codes in Queensland makes their positions untenable. Confidence among industry participants is at an all-time low. Nobody is prepared to take responsibility for the dire predicament confronting all three codes…’

That editorial in a mainstream publication mirrors what plenty of others within the racing industry in Queensland have been saying. It is certainly what should have happened by now, but hasn’t, and probably won’t as the chief executives try to ride out the storm.

The response to the editorial by All Codes chairman Kevin Dixon was probably predictable. When interviewed on radio by David Fowler he was asked about that Sunday Mail editorial. He admitted to being a bit taken aback by it, but then said, “I would have thought it was appropriate, given the events that are currently going on in the greyhound industry, that he should have disclosed that he’s the owner of a number of greyhounds and has close relatives who are greyhound trainers, and clearly, that experience, you know, goes towards helping form that opinion. So you know while I welcome his opinion but I would have thought the disclosure of that was probably appropriate as well.”

Kevin Dixon is suggesting the only reason the editor of the Sunday Mail is calling for the resignation of the All Codes board is because he is a greyhound owner and has relatives in the industry.

In other words, Dixon is questioning the integrity of the editor of the Sunday Mail.

What if the editor had been supportive, and suggested all was rosy in the All Codes board? Would Dixon’s response have been, “Well, I’m afraid I have to discount the nice comments because the editor owns greyhounds, so he would say these nice things wouldn’t he?”

A media release on March 22 this year from the relevant Queensland government minister, Bill Byrne, announced the cessation of work on the greyhound track at Cronulla Park in Logan. This cessation came in light of the live-baiting scandal whose epicentre, at least as far as the Four Corners report was concerned, was concentrated in Queensland. The work at the new track would cease until the review by Alan MacSporran QC into greyhound racing in Queensland was completed and submitted.

For me, the more interesting part of the media release came at the end. The minister notes, ‘Recently I received a request from Racing Queensland to approve the engagement of a contractor for the Cronulla Park project. I have not provided approval for any contractor to be engaged and will not while the direction is in place.’

Let me ask this question: by ‘recently’, what time frame are we dealing with? My guess would be some time in early to mid February. After all, the state election in Queensland only took place on January 31.

So, probably some time in February, and certainly prior to March 22, the new racing minister ‘received a request from Racing Queensland to approve the engagement of a contractor for the Cronulla Park project.’

I’m a bit confused by this, and maybe readers can help clarify the position. By ‘the engagement of a contractor for the Cronulla Park project’ did Racing Queensland (headed by chairman Kevin Dixon and CEO Darren Condon) mean someone to actually build the track?

Isn’t this is the same track which Mr Dixon stated in the annual report, submitted to the state government in August 2014, said ‘major works have now begun…’ Who was the contractor engaged in those ‘major works’ back in August 2014?

As an aside, this is the same Mr Dixon who wrote in that report, ‘We set the standard worldwide in the humane treatment of our animals and champion their welfare. We treat our animals, which our sport is totally dependent on, with the same respect and dignity we treat all our sporting legends.’

For his part, CEO Darren Condon wrote, in that same annual report, ‘Highlights off the racetrack included the State Government announcement for the approval of a new greyhound racing facility at Logan, to be completed in July 2015.’

That was in August 2014, yet, as noted above, the new minister is claiming that only ‘recently’ had a request been made to approve the engagement of a contractor for the project.’

As I said, that could only have happened between February and prior to 22 March this year.

So, what were the ‘major works’ which took place at Cronulla Park prior to August 2014? To the best of my knowledge (and I’m willing to be corrected by photographic evidence), nothing substantial has yet taken place at Cronulla Park.

So, if no ‘major works’ had taken place as at August 2014, and it would have been pretty obvious at that point there would be no way to have the new track completed by July this year, then some of what was submitted to the state government in the Racing Queensland annual report was clearly false. No wonder the editor of the Sunday Mail called for their resignations.

Disclosure: I own shares in Woolworths, and it may be that Mr Dixon and Mr Condon do their shopping at Coles or Aldi (so there is a possible conflict of interest as this may affect my dividends).

I do not own, train or have shares in any kind of racing animal, domestic pet or aquatic creature, but it may be that Mr Dixon or Mr Condon have interests in poodles or goldfish, or may engage in recreational fishing (so our lifestyles may be construed as being different).

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