​Five year statutory review of the Greyhound Racing Act 2009 - Review report

Issued: May 2015     [PDF,579kb]

Introduction

The NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) commenced a review of the Greyhound Racing Act 2009 (the Act) in December 2014. The purpose of, and terms of reference for, the review are set out in section 49 of the Act. The Act requires that the review determine whether the policy objectives of the Act (which are currently unstated) remain valid and whether its terms remain appropriate for securing those objectives.

Work on the review was informed by contributions made in response to a public call for submissions and invitations forwarded to interested stakeholder groups. The submission process was assisted by a discussion paper prepared by OLGR and released in December 2014, with a closing date of 13 February 2015. It was proposed that the review also take account of a number of recommendations of the March 2014 report of the Legislative Council Select Committee on greyhound racing in New South Wales.

Four Corners Program

On 11 February 2015, the RSPCA conducted a series of coordinated raids on greyhound properties and registered trial tracks in NSW, Victoria and Queensland. The raids related to evidence obtained by animal welfare organisations of live baiting at the properties involved. The raids also coincided with a three month long investigation into the greyhound racing industry by the ABC’s Four Corners program.

On 16 February 2015, the ABC’s Four Corners program was broadcast containing video evidence of live baiting activities. Following the program broadcast, Greyhound Racing NSW stood down five registered participants for alleged live baiting offences. The controlling body also suspended a large number of
greyhounds from racing in relation to the matter.

Greyhound Racing NSW

On 19 February 2015, the Government announced that members of Greyhound Racing NSW had agreed to step down and the Chief Executive Officer had stood aside, pending finalisation of an investigation into live baiting and a review of the integrity and probity arrangements for the industry.

The review was to be led by former High Court Justice Michael McHugh AM QC. Mr Paul Newson (then Executive Director of the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing) was appointed as the interim GRNSW Chief Executive Officer to continue the day to day operations of the controlling body and the enforcement of
any breaches of the rules of racing.

The closing date for submissions to the five year statutory review of the Greyhound Racing Act 2009 was extended until Monday 2 March 2015.

Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry in New South Wales

On the 4 March 2015, the Government announced that the review noted above had been replaced with a Special Commission of Inquiry. The Inquiry, which is being conducted by former Justice Michael McHugh, has the same wide ranging powers as a Royal Commission. It will consider issues in relation to governance, integrity and animal welfare standards in the greyhound racing industry in NSW. It will also review the management and governance of Greyhound Racing NSW and provide a final report to Government by 30 September 2015.

A copy of the Terms of Reference for the Special Commission of Inquiry is at attachment A.

Submissions to the five year statutory review

The statutory review received 1065 submissions, the majority of which are in the form of ‘petition letters’. Of those received, 907 are in the form of the attached Petition Letter A and 47 in the form of Petition Letter B. In addition, six individuals submitted both forms of letter. Another 105 submissions were received from interested individuals and organisations.

Many individual submissions to the review support the implementation of the recommendations of the Legislative Council Select Committee on greyhound racing in NSW, and in particular that the role of the Greyhound Racing Integrity Auditor be reformed and that a Racing Integrity Commissioner be established.

There is also support for the racing controlling bodies to be subject to oversight by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

The following themes reflect other issues raised in individual submissions to the review.

1. Governance framework for the sustainable economic development and future viability of the greyhound racing industry

There was support for greater involvement of the Greyhound Racing Industry Consultation Group

(GRICG) in the appointment of members of the controlling body, and for the board of the controlling body to be made up of greyhound racing industry representatives (or at least persons with industry knowledge). The separation of the commercial and regulatory functions of the racing controlling body was also supported.

2.Governance framework for the integrity of the conduct of greyhound racing and associated wagering on greyhound racing

Certain submissions opined that the current governance arrangements do not promote accountability

and transparency. There was a perceived conflict of interest in the one body being responsible for

both the commercial and regulatory functions for the industry, together with support for oversight by

the ICAC and/or the establishment of a Racing Integrity Commissioner.

3. Consultation and reporting

Some submissions called for greater transparency in the manner in which the racing controlling body

deals with industry finances, while others called for greater communication by the racing controlling

bodies with industry stakeholders. This theme also included providing GRICG with a greater role in

the administration of the industry.

4. Animal welfare

A common theme throughout submissions was the shock and dismay at the animal welfare practices revealed by the Four Corners program. Many submission makers called for more regular inspections of greyhound kennels and training facilities by authorities, and that there should be legislated standards for the breeding, racing and training of greyhounds. A number of submissions supported the establishment by Government of dedicated mechanisms to support and promote animal welfare.

Conclusion

It is noted that the Terms of Reference for the Special Commission of Inquiry into Greyhound Racing in NSW require it to review existing materials from the Legislative Council Select Committee on greyhound racing in New South Wales along with this statutory review of the Greyhound Racing Act 2009, to inform development of a discussion paper.

The Terms of Reference of the Special Commission of Inquiry are broad, and require the Inquiry to examine a wide range of issues fundamental to the future conduct of greyhound racing in NSW. The Inquiry’s terms of reference necessarily encompass the issues required to be considered by this statutory review.

In the circumstances, it is considered appropriate that the statutory review should make no recommendations, and should instead defer to the Inquiry. Copies of submissions to this statutory review have been provided to the Inquiry for its consideration.

Terms of Reference

Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry in NSW

A. Identify issues relating to the governance, integrity and animal welfare standards of the greyhound racing industry in NSW.

B. Review:
1. the existing legislative framework for the greyhound racing industry in NSW including (but not limited to) the Greyhound Racing Act 2009 (NSW), the Greyhound Racing Rules, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW), and associated legislative instruments, rules, policies, practices
and procedures relevant to “Greyhound Racing NSW” (“GRNSW”) and the “Royal Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals NSW (“RSPCA NSW”);

2. legislation in place, and practices which are currently employed, in other jurisdictions in relation to

the greyhound racing industry and animal welfare standards;

3. existing materials from the Legislative Counsel Select Committee and the Five Year Statutory Review of the Greyhound Racing Act 2009.

C. Evaluate:

1. legislation, policy and practices in place in NSW in relation to (but not limited to) those in relation
to:

a. the management, supervision and registration of greyhound breeders, pre-trainers, trainers and others involved in these aspects of the greyhound racing industry;


b. the management and supervision of activities associated with greyhound racing such as the operation of trial tracks and training facilities; and

c. breeding and animal welfare standards.

2. best practices which are currently employed in NSW and other jurisdictions in relation to governance of the greyhound racing industry;

3. contemporary standards relating to the welfare of animals;

4. key NSW government agencies’ powers and capability to properly investigate alleged incidents of animal cruelty and effectively prosecute where appropriate;

5. the merits of an independent integrity authority to oversee and regulate the greyhound racing industry; and

6. whether the issues identified in Term A are able to be appropriately addressed, to permit the continuation of a greyhound racing industry in NSW that is sustainable and provides an ongoing economic and social contribution to the State.


D. Identify contemporary best practice for adoption by the greyhound racing industry, including:

1. overarching principles to be considered when any industry body makes decisions affecting thewelfare of animals;


2. standards to be adopted when an industry body makes a decision affecting the welfare of animals;

3. appropriately robust industry supervision procedures; and

4. the powers, capability and resourcing necessary for GRNSW, key government agencies or an industry regulator to:


a. provide governance to the greyhound racing industry;
b. ensure the integrity of the industry; and
c. detect, investigate and respond to suspected unlawful activity in the industry including (without limitation) animal cruelty and the practice of living baiting.

 

E. Develop an improved model of governance of the greyhound racing industry, including (but not limited to):

1. the appropriate structure of GRNSW, key government agencies or an industry regulator to regulate and investigate the greyhound racing industry and to enforce penalties and sanctions for breaches of law;

2. the extent of the role of the NSW Government in the oversight of the greyhound racing industry;

3. appropriate penalties and sanctions for those breaching legal requirements in relation to the greyhound racing industry; and

4. appropriate changes to the Greyhound Racing Act 2009 (NSW), the Greyhound Racing Rules, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW), and associated legislative instruments, rules, policies, practices and procedures relevant to GRNSW, the RSPCA NSW, key government agencies, and/or an industry regulator.

F. In conducting the Inquiry, the Commissioner:

1. may consult with any person, agency or organisation;

2. will call for public submissions and, to the extent necessary, conduct formal hearings; and

3. will have regard to the Quality Regulatory Services (QRS) Initiative articulated in the NSW Government’s response to Industry Action Plans, including the requirements for outcomes focussed and risk based approaches to compliance and enforcement.