Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) Chairman Ray Gunston has spoken for the first time since his appointment and expressed the organisation’s deep regret that live-baiting activities had been missed by the regulator.
“The fact of the matter is that this totally unacceptable behaviour of live-baiting was happening, and we missed it. For that we are sorry”
“There have been many reasons raised why this might have happened, but irrespective of their validity or not there can be no excuses for allowing an environment where this occurred and went undetected.”
“We say sorry to those in the industry that do the right thing and have had their names dragged through the mud. We let them down. We also say sorry to families who have adopted beautiful greyhounds and have been abused in the streets, and we say sorry to everyone who saw that shocking footage.”
“Everything we do from here will be about ensuring we are able to detect such behaviours and act quickly to eradicate them.”
Mr Gunston said the road ahead would be difficult for the new board but they were looking to move the industry forward, informed by past mistakes, and the need to institute cultural and behavioural change was paramount.
“There will be no action that is off-limits in examining and rectifying how GRV did not detect and eradicate such behaviours. Additionally, we will improve our enforcement, education and regulation activities to ensure all in the industry can be assured that such behaviours will not be tolerated, and hopefully not even contemplated.”
The recommendations emanating from the Racing Integrity Commissioner’s interim-report have been accepted by GRV and Mr Gunston has reinforced that they are working closely with the RSPCA, RIC and Chief Veterinary Officer to advance their investigations.
“We fully accept all the recommendations made by Sal Perna in his interim report. GRV has met a number of times with the Office of Racing to discuss legislative changes to the Racing Act that would enable greater investigative powers and improved enforcement of rules.”
“A number of rule changes have already been implemented and more will flow from legislative changes. A thorough review of the industry’s 13,000 registered participants is underway to identify their roles in the rearing and education of greyhounds. This will give as a clearer understanding of how best to develop a regulatory framework for all participants involved in the development of the greyhounds. Our objective is to have all greyhounds under the care of a registered participant at all times during their lifecycle, unless retired as a pet.”
“We have met with the RSPCA and extended an invitation to Animals Australia to meet and discuss their ideas and suggestions. We would welcome any agreement with these groups that helps us detect animal cruelty in our industry.”
GRV is currently undertaking its own inquiry into the suspended persons having opened a Notice of Inquiry into each of them and providing an opportunity for all suspended persons to view the evidence from the Tooradin Trial Track and cooperate with the investigation. These Inquiries are scheduled to run until early April after which time charges will be considered.
“GRV Stewards are working hard to prepare the best case they can against the suspended persons in addition to assisting the RSPCA with the development of their criminal case. These are vitally important cases for the future of the industry and no stone will be left unturned in the course of the investigation.”
While only newly appointed Mr Gunston felt confident that the board has the experience and credentials to institute positive change in the greyhound racing industry.
“Ken Lay has extensive change management experience and success in restoring public trust in authorities. Judith Bornstein has experience with industrial relations matters in the greyhound racing industry and tremendous legal expertise. Combined with my broad background and our extensive governance experience we look forward to ensuring that GRV and the greyhound industry come out of this situation with a much better culture and future.”