A working party made up of representatives of the three racing codes, Victoria Police and the Office of Racing has been set up to oversee the implementation of recommendations of the racing integrity report by retired Judge Gordon Lewis.
Deputy Premier and Racing Minister Rob Hulls today said the Government, the three racing codes and Victoria Police broadly supported the recommendations and the working party would provide an interim implementation plan by 30 September and a complete plan by the end of the year.
Mr Hulls said Judge Lewis had conducted a wide-ranging investigation, meeting more than 100 representatives involved in all aspects of the racing industry and receiving submissions from 26 organisations and individuals.
“I am delighted, but not surprised, that his report once again has highlighted Victorian racing as the Australian leader, both commercially and in relation to integrity, with stewards enjoying an excellent reputation across all three codes,” Mr Hulls said.
Mr Hulls said Judge Lewis' report concluded there were problems in the Victorian racing industry but they did not warrant the removal of integrity functions and responsibilities from the controlling bodies.
Instead, Judge Lewis said Victoria would be best served by strengthening the present arrangements by providing for independent oversight of integrity, greater cooperation and consistency between the codes on integrity matters, and a single appeals and disciplinary process across all three codes.
Judge Lewis made 63 recommendations in his report. They include:
- The establishment of a Racing Integrity Commissioner to oversee integrity procedures within all three codes and act as an Ombudsman for the racing industry
- A new appeals and disciplinary board for all three codes based on the current model in place for thoroughbred racing
- Greater focus be given to the involvement of organised crime in racing, particularly in the betting ring, and the relationship between the codes, Victoria Police and other law enforcement agencies be significantly strengthened
- Better use of coercive powers already available to the Chief Commissioner of Police under the Major Crimes (Investigative Powers) Act 2004 to properly investigate organised crime associated with the racing industry
- A specialised team of detectives, under the direction of a senior police officer, dedicated to addressing criminal activity in the racing industry
Mr Hulls said the recommendations would be implemented progressively.
“Some of the recommendations require administrative changes while others will require legislative change. We also need to include a detailed cost benefit analysis of some of the recommendations and careful consideration of them in order to minimise the risk of any unintended outcomes,” he said.
Judge Lewis was asked to review the racing industry to ensure integrity assurance was of the highest standard following the resignation earlier this year of former Racing Victoria Ltd chief executive Stephan Allanson, who was found to have laid bets using a false name.
“I instigated the review to ensure that the Victorian racing industry maintained a strong reputation on integrity,” Mr Hulls said. “I also believe that it is important to review systems and processes to ensure they are best practice.
“The fundamental message in this report is that we need to use the existing powers and processes more effectively.
“The reforms will make the best system in Australia even better.”
The working party will comprise:
- Ross Kennedy, Executive Director, Gaming and Racing, Department of Justice
- Bernard Saundry, Director – Commercial, Racing Victoria Ltd
- John Anderson, Chief Executive, Harness Racing Victoria
- John Stephens, Chief Executive, Greyhound Racing Victoria
- Superintendent Alan Byrnes, Victoria Police