The Labor Government today introduced into Parliament the Racing Amendment (Integrity and Disciplinary Structures) Bill 2018 which will establish two new bodies – the Victorian Racing Integrity Board and the Victorian Racing Tribunal.
The Bill will also strengthen the Racing Integrity Commissioner's Board of Inquiry powers.
The Victorian Racing Integrity Board will oversee the relationship between racing controlling bodies and their integrity staff, to ensure senior staff of Racing Victoria, Greyhound Racing Victoria and Harness Racing Victoria can operate independently from commercial considerations.
The board will also have the power to investigate complaints about integrity issues made by controlling body board members, integrity managers, or the Chief and Deputy Chief Stewards. It can also direct a controlling body to provide information or take specific actions.
The establishment of the Victorian Racing Tribunal will ensure that Victoria has the right disciplinary regime to enforce the rules of racing across the three codes.
Headed by a current or former judicial officer, the new independent Victorian Racing Tribunal will have a strengthened regime of powers, including the power to compel someone to attend a hearing to give evidence and to take evidence under oath.
The Bill also establishes new offences for failing to comply with a summons, knowingly providing false or misleading information, refusing to answer a question, or refusing to be sworn in when before the Victorian Racing Tribunal.
The Bill will also abolish merit review appeals to VCAT – ensuring cases are heard in a timely manner and to provide certainty for all racing participants.
The new laws will also enhance the Racing Integrity Commissioner's Board of Inquiry powers, ensuring a person cannot avoid being questioned by the Commissioner because they have been disqualified, handed in their licence or registration, or resigned.
These reforms form part of the Labor Government's response to the 2015 Bittar Review of the racing industry controlling bodies.
According to Minister for Racing Martin Pakula, the reforms will strength integrity and lay a level platform across all three codes, “We're making sure that racing has an integrity regime and an appeals process which is modern, robust and fair.”
“The new cross code integrity board will ensure stewards have greater independence and an increased ability to ensure that those who do the wrong thing are held accountable.”