Apparently, last Monday’s “Who’s in Charge” article needs correction. In saying racing authorities talked “only to owners and trainers” it was partly in error, at least so far as Queensland is concerned.
The Greyhounds Qld Magazine reports that Racing Queensland will talk only to the local GBOTA, and has refused to recognise the newly formed United Queensland Greyhound Association, according to statements by UQGA president John Falvey.
This comes despite the fact that UQGA membership includes the majority of the state’s top trainers. And it begs the question of whether RQ, as a public body appointed by government, has the right to take such high-handed action.
RQ is already under fire for failing to adequately consult participants on the proposed multi-code development at Deagon, to the north of the CBD, where it is still well short of obtaining necessary planning approvals.
An alternative development at Logan to the south, which had been expensively researched and planned, was also canned without notice or consultation.
RQ has been heavily criticised for failing to disclose the detail of its recent decision to favour SKY rather than TVN for its renewed long term contract. (Still, you have to wonder how TVN would have handled harness and greyhound codes, with which it has no experience. And, with TVN on stream, the racing industry would have ended up with three screens broadcasting races in the thousands of TAB outlets around the country. Guess which ones would have been preferred!).
The reaction to UQGA is no surprise to your correspondent, who only recently emailed a fairly innocuous letter about formguides to RQ. It got no reply, indeed not even an acknowledgement.
It must be said that treatment like this is no different to that afforded by RQ’s predecessor, the QGRA. Dozens of letters over 15 years produced only one reply – to a suggestion that betting on Townsville races was not a goer until they produced decent sectional information. The reply: “We’re working on it”. That was three years ago and they are still working on it.
This sort of practice is not unusual amongst greyhound authorities (or clubs), whose reactions to inquiries or complaints are variable to say the least. NSW would be easily the worst, judging by observations and experience over the years. Coincidentally, NSW is the only state where the board is made up of members with severe conflicts of interest (ie associations with a specific club or club group).
The clear indication is that some greyhound authorities consider contrary views, or any views of the public, as a nuisance. They are an interruption to their daily life, rather than an aid to learning what is going on in the community and fashioning a better way forward.
Today’s crucial point in Queensland is that UQGA’s platform says that it is concerned at mis-management, or non-management, of key issues and the general decline in the code’s fortunes.
Sadly, it is right. Field quality and dog numbers have been falling steadily for some years now. SEQ has no one-turn track. Activity has been being propped up by the introduction of squibs’ races over 331m at Albion Park and the higher incidence of Maidens, Novice class races and bend start events at both Albion Park and Ipswich. In any event, short fields are still common. Many good dogs, especially stayers, are soon headed off to greener pastures down south. Over the years, track closures have become all too common. While some of those will not be missed (Beenleigh, for example, was an awful layout) they included what was arguably one of the best two or three tracks in the country at Toowoomba.
Simultaneously, numbers have been quite good at Northern NSW tracks, even though layouts at Casino and Lismore leave much to be desired from a punting perspective.
Queensland is badly in need of major reform. Unfortunately, given the nature of racing structures anywhere in this country, reform is not a word that gets much traction. The current LNP opposition, expected to claim office in the next election, is promising a return to earlier days with separate code administrations. Even so, reform is seldom a favoured technique in any government (it creates lots of work and endangers votes), so it may be that greyhound folk need to make bigger and continuing noises.
Disclaimer: A few years back, the chairman of QGRA sacked your correspondent from his position as a columnist for the authority’s monthly newspaper. The crime – suggesting that Betfair (then officially banned in Queensland) was a fact of life and the industry should get used to it. Ho hum.