Minister for Racing Denis Napthine has welcomed the Victorian Ombudsman’s findings regarding Greyhound racing Victoria (GRV) saying the Victorian Coalition Government accepted all recommendations contained within the report.
Dr Napthine said the report raised a number of serious concerns relating to the administration of GRV, but it was encouraging to note the Ombudsman found there had been significant improvement in the organisation since the appointment of Peter Caillard as Chairman by the Coalition Government.
“It is pleasing to see that the Ombudsman’s report found major improvements within GRV after Peter Caillard was appointed chairman of the board following the resignation of the previous chairman in July last year,” Dr Napthine said.
The report states:
“GRV has engaged in a program of review and taken action to implement measures to improve GRV’s compliance with statutory obligations since September 2011 following Mr Peter Caillard’s appointment as Chairman of GRV’.
“Nonetheless, the report raises serious concerns about the governance, integrity and probity of the organisation that have been allowed to occur over a number of years. The Ombudsman has made a number of recommendations on how to deal with these issues,” Dr Napthine said.
“I have accepted the recommendations in the Ombudsman’s report and will be working with the Office of Racing and Gaming and Greyhound Racing Victoria to ensure they are implemented.
“I note the intention of the current Chief Executive Officer to finish his employment at GRV in July as well as the resignation of the previous Infrastructure Manager earlier in the year. Both were subjects of the report’s findings.
“Considering the serious issues that have been raised by the Ombudsman and the period in which they have occurred, I will be writing to the GRV Board informing them of my intention to reconstitute the board.
“I am confident this move will provide a fresh start to Greyhound Racing Victoria and help to restore confidence in the organisation amongst industry participants.
“Given the positive changes initiated by Mr Caillard since his appointment to the Board, it is my intention to re-appoint Mr Caillard to his position. I also note that Adam Wallish is a relatively new member of the GRV board,” Dr Napthine said.
“The Government has also accepted the recommendations of the report by the Racing Integrity Commissioner (RIC) into betting activities of racing officials.
“In this report, the RIC also identifies significant betting activities by GRV staff but notes the measures introduced by the GRV under the leadership of the new Chairman Mr Caillard “…show the commitment of GRV to integrity and their swift action and cooperation is acknowledged.”
“It is also important to note that the Commissioner in his extensive investigations found:
“…there was no indication that the betting activities by racing officials resulted in any race being compromised, any corruption within the controlling bodies or criminal conduct on the part of any of the employees.”
Dr Napthine said greyhound racing in Victoria was an important part of the state’s economy contributing more than $200 million in economic benefits and providing more than 1,600 jobs.
“While I recognise the significant growth in the industry over recent years, I am also determined that GRV adheres to the highest standards of governance, integrity and probity,” Dr Napthine said.
The report also found that in regard to the culture of betting, “members of GRV’s senior management team, including the CEO, not only ignored this behaviour but were active participants over many years,” Mr Brouwer said in his report tabled to parliament on Wednesday.
Chief executive John Stephens, who bet on greyhound races during his lunch breaks at the local TAB, resigned in April this year.
“The CEO acted unprofessionally and failed to provide leadership to the organisation,” Mr Brouwer said.
Two senior managers who were warned after betting during work hours received pay increases one month later.
One of these managers also received a $10,000 bonus despite having been identified by the Racing Integrity Commissioner as having placed 4409 bets during work hours totalling almost $509,000 over three years. That senior manager left GRV last March.
Mr Brouwer also found GRV had employed the same four companies to complete construction works at greyhound clubs for more than 10 years, without public tender.
In the last five years, GRV has paid more than $3.25 million to these consultants for track redevelopment works.