British chief brings broom to Victoria’s racing industry   Leave a comment

British chief brings broom to Victoria’s racing industry

Journalist
Melbourne

Former British racing chief executive Paul Bittar will lead a sweeping reform of integrity in Victoria’s beleaguered racing indus­try amid scandals on live baiting in greyhounds, drug use in thoroughbred racing and integ­rity issues in harness racing.

The move is likely to see integ­rity powers stripped from the codes in favour of an independent body, to avoid conflicts between promoting sport and regulating animal welfare.

Mr Bittar’s appointment was announced yesterday by Racing Minister Martin Pakula, who also unveiled new penalties for live baiting of greyhounds.

Shock revelations of animal cruelty in the greyhound industry in Victoria, Queensland and NSW have brought the code to its knees on the eastern seaboard and seen boards and administrators dumped or forced out.

The impact of the cobalt drug scandal engulfing three major stable­s continues to cast a pall on thoroughbred racing in Victoria, which is also in the midst of a media-rights brawl involving Racing Victoria, Tabcorp and Seven West Media.

“There has been a range of issues­ across all three codes,’’ Mr Pakula said.

“We have seen some issues in harness racing and we have seen the Monteith report which suggested that integrity in harness racing needs bolstering.

“In thoroughbred racing we have seen cobalt still to play out. As a matter of principle I think it is important that there be abso­lutely no question of any conflict between those charged with the integrity of the industry and those whose job it is to promote it and commercialise it.

“Paul Bittar is among the most experienced and capable people in the racing industry in this country and I am very glad he is going to take on the role of consulting across the three codes to ­implement a tri-code integrity model of some sort.”

Mr Bittar, who was the British Horse­racing Authority’s chief for three years until last year, is expected to report to the government by next March.

Mr Pakula and Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford also ­announced new fines and penalties for live baiting and other powers to help inspectors stamp out the practice, which involves using live rabbits or possums to “blood” greyhounds in the belief that it will boost their performance.

Mr Pakula said animal welfare would be raised to the fore on ­industry bodies: “A practice as barbaric as live baiting has no place in Victoria’s greyhound racing indus­try — full stop.’’

A report handed down yesterday by Mr Pakula from Racing Integrity Commissioner Sal Perna cleared Greyhound Racing Victoria of a cover-up of live baiting, but found the inspection regime had failed to detect the practice due to insufficient powers and poor acceptance of the need for inspections.

Another report released yesterday by the minister, from Chief Veterinary Officer Charles Milne, found that Greyhound Racing Victoria had a conflict between promoting the industry and regulating animal welfare.

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Posted June 12, 2015 by belesprit09 in Uncategorized

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