A wise choice for greyhound racing reform

Nathan Absalom Roar Guru

By , Nathan Absalom is a Roar Guru

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    Where to next for greyhound racing in NSW? (Rainer Hungershausen / Flickr)

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    Some people have earned the right to be listened to, while others deserve to be ignored.

    It would be simplistic, and almost certainly wrong, to describe the recent announcements of the board members of both the commercial and integrity boards of greyhound racing in NSW as heralding a new era for the sport.

    The reality is that in the last few years, greyhound racing has changed enormously both in NSW and throughout Australia.

    Reduction in breeding numbers, investment in rehoming programs, changes to the lure and tracks to make racing safer, these boxes have all been ticked.

    In a background where some of the most powerful people in NSW swore black and blue they couldn’t happen, all these changes were made with no board and no leadership to drive what has been an obvious cultural change within the sport. Instead, it happened mainly through the actions of many individuals within the sport.

    And so rather than dictating that the sport must change, the two new boards, one commercial and one of integrity and welfare, have the responsibility of maintaining and expanding this cultural change.

    They will need to do this while working through the challenges the sport will have in a very different betting environment where online bookies are king, and there will be a dramatic reduction in the number of greyhounds able to race.

    Nevertheless, credit where credit is due, the Government has made some wise choices for the board. There are some decent values represented by the people on these boards.

    greyhound

    For the purpose of this piece, I’ll focus on one appointment, Dr John Keniry, who has been appointed as one of the Commissioners of the Greyhound and Welfare Integrity Committee with little fanfare or media attention.

    Quite different to the media circus when Dr Keniry was appointed the head of the Greyhound Racing transition taskforce last July when then-Premier Mike Baird intended to ban the sport. He was given the entirely thankless task of going around to communities and explaining the details, or lack thereof, of the Government’s policies.

    He also had to count the greyhounds, facilities and equipment for the purposes of compensation. We found out later that through this process, he tried to resign as he simply no longer agreed that this policy was the right thing, only to be talked out of it as the Government changed their minds.

    For me, when someone takes such an action, to resign from a lucrative position on a matter of principle at their own personal cost, it demonstrates that this is someone who should be listened to. Someone who has earned the right to be in a position of authority, such as the position of Commissioner is.

    And for me the message is unmistakeable: the Government has refused to appoint a third-rate staffer with no discernible talent. Instead they have appointed someone with a reputation for honesty and integrity who has surely earned the right to be respected by people within greyhound racing, the right to be listened to.

    There will be challenges in the future ahead, of that I am sure. But I suspect that this respect will ensure the pronouncements that animal welfare and integrity will be at the heart of greyhound racing for the foreseeable future are not just hollow marketing spin, but embed the cultural change for decades to come.