New laws covering the establishment of Queensland’s four-board racing structure have now been inked in by Racing Minister Steve Dickson. A chairman and two members will control each of the three codes, in turn reporting to an over-riding board of five to run the state. The big board will include the chairman of each code. It will also make all the serious decisions.
This is a whole new world for Australian racing, not just because of the odd structure but the way the members will be appointed.
At a time when sporting organisations are universally trying to modernise their practices, and especially to relate to their public, Queensland has gone in the other direction. It’s summed up by one of the qualifications required of applicants for the new jobs: “all applicants for a board position must hold the endorsement of an industry licensee, a race club, racing association or association related to promoting the relevant code of racing prior to being considered for appointment”, demands the Minister.
Some would call this jobs for the boys. Either way, it removes any possibility of independent thought. Appointees would forever be beholden to the people who proposed them. The big risk is that tough business decisions would be coloured or avoided by the background of the people considering them. Justice would never be seen to be done.
The new deal arrives as Queensland greyhounds are in desperate need of radical reform and strong action. Race quality is still falling, dog numbers are not improving and fields are often light on. Just this week, Monday’s Albion Park meeting, the week’s second most important, ran with short numbers in eight of the ten races.
On top of that, the Minister has not said a word about the plans to leave Albion Park and create a new multi-track complex at Logan. It’s a long time now since the previous government promised that the $10 million compensation for grabbing the Gold Coast track would be held in trust for Logan.
Are other states better off? Well, usually, but it varies.
Victoria and South Australia both have independent boards. Tasmania is run totally by the government. Code advisory panels (ie insiders) pay lip service to the need for external input. WA is nearly as bad as all the policy and financial decisions rest with RWWA, a government instrumentality. Greyhounds WA just runs the races. In NSW it depends how you look at it. Board members are nominally independent yet nearly all, including the chairman, have past associations with racing organisations.
One result is that a mixed bag of state representatives go to meetings of the peak body, Greyhounds Australasia. Unfortunately, GA says it has no jurisdiction over commercial matters (“commercial” is not defined) while its regulatory decisions are frequently scuppered by individual states who find they need to set up lengthy local rules. In any event, it lessens the ability of the industry to speak with authority on crucial subjects – the need for a national betting pool, for example, or the strength to deal with major bodies such as TABs and SKY.
Critically, a national body should see as its prime task the setting of standards for others to follow. As it stands, there is no chance of that. But how do you convince an oddball mixture of people to reform themselves? At state level that would be up to the Racing Minister but, nationally, GA could do it to itself with a stroke of the pen. Who might start the ball rolling? A new year is about to start.
Finally, the item below serves as an illustration of the introverted thinking of state bodies. They are besotted with pumping out meaningless or erroneous information, presumably to make themselves look more appealing. In practice, to anyone who looks behind the waffle, and calls them to account, it’s bumpf.
SHADES OF ELECTRA
In highlighting Bizarre Barbie’s December 8 run at The Meadows as “one of the best of 2012” GRV gets a “A” for effort but an “F” for logic and accuracy.
In a last to first run, Barbie ran down leader Irma Bale on the line to record 42.71. Correct for the 8m handicap advantage and that is equivalent to about 43.27 over the full 725m trip, a very pedestrian time indeed. The track record of 42.03 (by the enigmatic Nellie Noodles) is 18 lengths quicker.
Technically, 2nd placegetter Irma Bale ran slightly faster time as she had a 7m handicap. In any event, she was fading at the finish, as she usually does, making the winner look better.
It brings to mind a “Run of the Month” awarded by AGRA to occasional chaser Elektra after a similar last to first performance at Sale in 37.50 – a time 5th graders run routinely.
PR can be a useful device but not when you are kidding the public.