Details of a review into Tasmania’s harness racing industry have been published, but there are concerns the review is too narrow and will be prevented from “uncovering everything that is going on”.
- Tasmania’s Racing Minister has released the terms of reference for a review of the state’s harness racing industry
- Ms Ogilvie said the review was to ensure Tasmanians could have faith that animal welfare was never compromised and that the industry’s integrity was “above reproach”
- The RSPCA and others said the review would not go far enough to address broader issues within the racing industry
Racing Minister Madeleine Ogilvie on Saturday released the terms of reference for the review, which will look at allegations of team driving, race fixing, and animal welfare concerns.
The review by former NSW chief steward Ray Murrihy was announced following an ABC report that published allegations of team driving and race fixing by Yole Stables in northern Tasmania, concerns about the Office of Racing Integrity not acting on complaints, and concerns about animal welfare.
Yole Stables has described all allegations against it as “patently false”.
Ms Ogilvie said the review would include an investigation of:
- All circumstances surrounding the races referred to in the ABC report.
- Any other harness races in the past three years where team driving and/or race fixing may have occurred.
- Animal welfare conditions at the Yole racing stables at Sidmouth in northern Tasmania to determine compliance with Australian harness racing rules.
- The way the Office of Racing Integrity manages complaints, particularly when it comes to allegations of team driving and/or race fixing in the harness racing industry in the past three years.
Ms Ogilvie said Mr Murrihy was also asked to give advice on other matters relating to animal welfare, team driving and/or race fixing in the Tasmanian harness racing industry he determined was relevant.
Submissions will be open for a month — from April 4 until May 2. Mr Murrihy’s report to the Premier is due by June 30.
“We are doing all this to ensure Tasmanians can have faith that the welfare of animals is never compromised, and the integrity of the industry is above reproach,” Ms Ogilvie said.
The terms of reference, however, have not been well received by those with concerns about the industry.
RSPCA Tasmania chief executive Jan Davis said they were too narrow and would not address the broader issues in the racing industry.
Ms Davis said the focus should not be on individuals and specific problems.
“These things are symptoms of a system that is endemically broken,” she said.
“[The problems] are about intrinsic and entrenched flaws in our system that mean the racing industry in Tasmania is not performing anywhere near reasonable community expectations.”
Former harness racing driver and current trainer Gavin Kelly said concerns he raised with the Office of Racing Integrity previously were not covered by the review’s terms of reference.
Mr Kelly last week told ABC Radio Hobart he believed many of the problems in the industry were “caused by the Office of Racing Integrity (ORI) being asleep at the wheel”.
On Saturday, he said: “To date, neither ORI nor the minister have reached out to me to hear my concerns, and now they announce terms of reference which exclude my concerns.”
Opposition racing spokesman Dean Winter also said the review was too narrow and should include greyhound and thoroughbred racing.
“The problems are within the Office of Racing Integrity. I think that’s where the investigation needs to focus, and by focusing only on one code, the government is quite deliberately stopping us from uncovering everything that’s going on here,” Mr Winter said.
He also repeated his call for Ms Ogilvie to be sacked and for the Director of Racing to be stood aside while the review takes place.
“It’s simply not good enough that these two people are still in their roles,” Mr Winter said.