Inquiry promise into dog funding

 STATE opposition leader John Robertson vowed yesterday, after meeting with Hunter participants, to launch an upper house inquiry into the concerns of the greyhound industry.

Hunter breeders, owners and trainers are refusing to nominate dogs for meetings between December 1 and 14 in protest against what they argue is an unfair allocation of TAB funding.

The no-show will affect racing at The Gardens and other tracks across the state from Saturday.

Greyhound Racing NSW announced yesterday on its website that the Gardens meeting would go ahead but had been cut from 10 to eight races.

It is understood several races will have reduced fields.

A race meeting at Richmond has been abandoned due to the protest and absorbed into the nine-race program at Wentworth Park. 

Greyhound protest group Our Fair Share argues that the 99-year Inter-Code agreement signed in 1998 needs to be amended to keep the industry financially viable.

Under the agreement, greyhound racing receives 13per cent of TAB funding, thoroughbred racing 70per cent and harness racing 17per cent.

However, Our Fair Share say their industry generates almost 21per cent of the TAB’s revenue.

‘‘They  have got some concerns about the way the funding operates and the revenues they get from gambling out of  TAB,’’ Robertson said.

‘‘We need to make sure that this is an industry that remains viable. 

‘‘We’ve already made approaches, the Labor opposition, to having an upper house committee established to look into concerns that the owners have got. We need to make sure this is an industry that is sustainable.’’

Owner-trainer Bob Whitelaw, the Newcastle spokesman of Our Fair Share, said he was buoyed by the meeting with Robertson.

‘‘We made him aware of many things that he didn’t know that are happening in the greyhound industry,’’ Whitelaw said.

‘‘The main thing [is that] he’s going back to Sydney with it and he’s promised us he’s going to set up an individual parliamentary review into greyhounds in NSW, [and] the terms of reference will be decided. The thing will be, it will bring everything out into the open and on the table.’’

A spokesman for NSW Minister for Hospitality and Racing, George Souris, said yesterday that the government could not intervene as this was a private agreement signed by the three racing organisations and the TAB.

‘‘They need to get together, the three codes, and discuss it, but the minister can’t intervene,’’ the spokesman said.

‘‘‘It’s a private agreement and there are contractual obligations,’’ the spokesman said.

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