The New South Wales government has been accused of undermining the state’s new greyhound regulator by forcing it to rely on industry funding.

NSW’s greyhound welfare integrity commission was established following 2015 revelations of live baiting and large volumes of attrition and “wastage” – dogs being killed when they could no longer race or weren’t useful for racing – which prompted a ban of the industry in 2016, only for that ban to be aborted within three months after a fierce backlash.

The industry returned with promises of greater regulation and oversight, including by the integrity commission, but that has not stopped allegations that ex-racing greyhounds are continuing to disappear in suspicious circumstances.

The Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds, a not-for-profit, has warned that regulator is now being undermined by funding uncertainty, the loss of its chief executive, and a looming inquiry chaired by Robert Borsak, the leader of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party.

Commission figures show its total grants and contributions were cut by almost $1m in 2018-19, down to $15.4m from $16.39m.

The funding is only marginally higher than that spent by the industry body Greyhound Racing NSW on integrity and welfare work enforcement before the live baiting scandal ($13.89m).

The government’s direct contributions, described as “transitional” only, are being reduced, forcing a greater reliance on industry funding.

More than half the commission’s funding now comes from Greyhound Racing NSW.

The national president of the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds, Dennis Anderson, said that had left it dependent on the very industry it was supposed to regulate.

“The concerns are that the organisation that’s supposed to be policing Greyhounds NSW has to go to Greyhounds NSW to get its funding,” he said.

Anderson has proposed a new model of funding to safeguard its independence. He suggests that all of the commission’s funding should be assured by revenue obtained through the point-of-consumption tax on gambling. Currently, only part of the commission’s funding is provided by that tax.

“The people are making the big money out of this are the gambling companies, and the gambling companies should be funding the government and then in turn the government funds the welfare integrity commission.”

He has also raised concerns about the departure of the chief executive, Judith Lind, who was the subject of a sustained campaign of attack by talkback radio station 2GB.

“The minister failed to support his own public servant,” Anderson said.

Earlier this year, 2GB’s Ray Hadley alleged the commission was being “infiltrated” by animal activists, making it irredeemable. In an interview with the minister for better regulation, Kevin Anderson, he said:

“I’ll give you a tip Kevin, unless you get the animal activists out of GWIC, you’ll be looking for a job as well.”

The commission now faces the prospect of an inquiry by NSW’s select committee on the greyhound welfare integrity commission, which is chaired by Borsak, a vocal supporter of the greyhound industry.

“The timing could not be any more perfect for the people trying to undermine the powers of the welfare and integrity commission,” Dennis Anderson said.

Kevin Anderson told the Guardian the funding provided to the commission was always intended to be transitional and designed to support the body through its inception.

“The industry’s commercial arm, GRNSW, will now play a greater role in funding the regulator, as per the practice in other racing codes,” he said. “It is completely appropriate that the industry is invested in this process financially and does not in any way jeopardise the independence of the regulator.”

The minister said the employment of the body’s chief executive was a matter for the GWIC.

“There will be no change to GWIC’s role as an independent regulator committed to enforcing the highest standards of animal welfare,” he said.

“I look forward to working with the new CEO and seeing GWIC deliver on its mission to improve animal welfare standards while supporting the growth and prosperity of the greyhound racing industry.”

Dennis Anderson and the CPG also this week alleged that more than 2,300 former racing greyhounds that were supposed to be rehomed had disappeared over the past two years. That allegation was strongly disputed by the industry, the regulator, and the minister.



READ NEWS SOURCE

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here