GWIC updates / True facts about GWIC

It's important that the Commission correct the public record when misinformation is circulated. The Commission respects the views of others and values constructive feedback. However, it is important to ensure that the information disseminated to both the industry and the wider community is factually accurate. Below you will find some allegations made about the Commission and the facts that prove the basis of many of the claims are incorrect.

Is GWIC is trying close the industry by stealth?

The Commission’s principal objectives are to promote and protect the welfare of greyhounds, to safeguard the industry’s integrity and to maintain public confidence in the industry. If we achieve those, then we would have played our part in helping to secure a prosperous industry. We believe we are doing just that.

Over the past 18 months, the Commission has introduced new approaches and technologies to make it simpler and easier for all participants to comply with their regulatory responsibilities. We will continue with this work into the future.

Many participants would have witnessed first-hand, that the Commission’s staff worked tirelessly throughout the COVID-19 crisis to help keep the industry functioning. That demonstrates the commitment and dedication of the Commission’s personnel to the industry at large.

Earlier this year a customer satisfaction survey was conducted for the Commission of 399 anonymous participants which returned a customer satisfaction score of 86%.

These results indicates to us that the overwhelming majority of the industry understand that the Commission is working for the industry, not against it.

Is the code of practice just a tool for removing small participants from the industry?

The Commission recently facilitated the public consultation process for the draft of a new NSW Greyhound Welfare Code of Practice.

The requirement for a new Code of Practice was one of the principal recommendations of the Iemma Reform Panel accepted by the NSW Government and Parliament as a precondition to allow greyhound racing to continue. That requirement was passed into law as the Greyhound Racing Act 2017.

The Commission is simply facilitating the development of the new code, which it is legally required to do.

The code is not GWIC’s code. It is a document that will ultimately be approved by the NSW Government, not the Commission.

The draft code of practice that was circulated for everyone to comment on was developed with input from the Animal Welfare Committee comprising industry representatives including GRNSW.

It is therefore a total red herring to assert, as some are doing, that the Commission is seeking to use the code to somehow force its will on the industry and to drive people out of the industry. In fact, the Code will be there to do precisely the opposite. A Code of Practice is intended to ensure there will be enforceable standards so the welfare of greyhounds is fully protected and the industry can pass public scrutiny. That is vitally important to ensure the industry not only survives but can thrive.

Why does GWIC cost $15.7m when welfare previously cost GRNSW $9m?

An independent review of GRNSW’s previous expenditure on welfare functions was undertaken in 2019 by a working party chaired by the Deputy Secretary of the then Department of Industry. The review concluded that GRNSW’s annual expenditure on welfare and integrity functions before they were transferred to GWIC, was $13.89m (not $9m as alleged)

The Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry conducted by former High Court judge the Hon Michael McHugh AC QC determined that there had been a substantial underspend on welfare by GRNSW.

Accordingly, the Commission’s total annual expenditure of $15.7m in the 2018-19 financial year was found to be reasonable and only a modest, but appropriate increase in the costs of welfare and integrity particularly as the Commission’s responsibilities were considerably greater.

The Commission is continuing to review its budget in addition to introducing new technological capabilities that are all aimed at delivering further efficiencies and savings and enhanced service delivery.

Does the salary of the Commissioners cost over $1m?

The three Commissioners’ total annual salary costs are $325,000, not $1m as alleged.

Is the average regulatory cost per greyhound is $3,745?

The Greyhound Racing Act 2017 (GRA) defines a registered greyhound as being “a greyhound that is owned or kept in connection with greyhound racing”. Legal advice obtained by the Commission indicates that all greyhounds that are maintained by industry participants are captured within the GRA definition.

The Commission has calculated that the actual registered greyhound population is 26,852. This comprises 6,505 greyhounds who are actively racing, 6,970 greyhounds who have been whelped but are yet to race and 13,377 greyhounds who have been retired to industry participants.

On those figures, the approximate average regulatory cost per greyhound is $584, not $3,745 as claimed

Is GWIC an over-zealous regulator, here to bully participants?

As a regulatory body, there will always be participants who object to scrutiny and being held accountable for their actions or inaction. The Commission makes no apology for carrying out its responsibilities to protect the welfare of greyhounds and the integrity of the sport.

The Commission’s disciplinary decisions are externally reviewable by the Racing Appeals Tribunal (RAT) and the conduct of the Commission and its staff is subject to review and/or investigation by the NSW Ombudsman and the Independent Commission against Corruption.

The Commission carries out its compliance & enforcement functions in line with its Compliance & Enforcement explanatory guide, which can be found on its website at https://www.gwic.nsw.gov.au/integrity/rulesandpolicies.

The Commission welcomes transparent review and feedback in relation to everything it does, including adherence to its compliance & enforcement guidelines. The Commission views this feedback as an opportunity to improve its services to the industry and the community.

Since its commencement in July 2018, the Commission has received no formal complaints directly from industry participants requiring referral to the NSW Ombudsman or ICAC.

In keeping with its commitment to being transparent, upon commencement it put in place a requirement for its inspectors to wear body-worn cameras. Most good regulatory agencies now do this.

We appreciate that some participants may view this as being confronting. However, the video footage taken is designed to protect participants and the Commission’s inspectors from false allegations.

The Commission is more than happy to provide participants who are captured on video during inspections with a copy of the video should they wish.

Is GWIC working against GRNSW?

Anyone attending racing meetings lately would know this is not true. The Commission and GRNSW work very closely together everyday to ensure that industry is supported, protected and promoted.

Given GRNSW is responsible for the commercial side of  the industry and GWIC is responsible for providing all the welfare and integrity staff, namely stewards, vets, inspectors and investigators, there will inevitably be occasions when the two organisations may disagree. However, the industry can be assured that such issues are usually quickly resolved, and we move forward together with a shared purpose and resolve to make the industry the best that it can be.

Why do no other states have a separate body in charge of welfare and integrity?

Victoria has a Racing Integrity Commissioner and Queensland has a Racing Industry Integrity Commission responsible for welfare and integrity in all three racing codes.

Why can’t GRNSW be reinstated as the regulatory body?

Both the 2016 inquiry and the 2017 reform panel recommended that the commercial and regulatory functions for the industry should be vested in two separate organisations, to “minimise the potential for conflicts of interest and to help build the community’s confidence in the industry.”

Who does the Commission answer to?

The Commission is a government agency and is answerable to the Minister for Racing, NSW Parliament, ICAC, the Ombudsman, police and the courts, just like any other agency.

Is it true GWIC “is eating up millions of dollars that could be spent on prizemoney, track upgrades and promotion”?

Amalgamation of the Commission with GRNSW will not result in more money for these things. An independent review conducted by the Department of Industry found that the cost of integrity and welfare functions when conducted by GRNSW in 2017-18 amounted to $13.89 million of industry revenue. Additionally, a growing proportion of Commission’s funding comes from the Point of Consumption Tax, which could never be utilised for prize money and promoting the industry.

Are industry costs in NSW the highest in the country?

Care should be used when attempting to make comparison between jurisdictions as there are fewer race tracks in the other jurisdictions and the number of participants vary significantly.

The Commission’s registration fees are commensurate with those in other jurisdictions. Recently the Commission removed registration fee for syndicate managers and from next year will implement 3 year registration renewals whereby participants will receive a 30% discount.

What does GWIC say to those who accuse inspectors of being “way over the top” in dealing with participants?

All inspectors use body-worn cameras and uneditable recordings of inspections are available to participants on request. We appreciate that some may find this confronting. However, the recordings are there to protect participants and our inspectors from false allegations.

We acknowledge the concerns raised publicly in 2019 and we value valid criticism and feed back in relation to everything we do. However, the minimal number of complaints received by the Commission and its customer satisfaction scores do not support the allegation that the Commission’s inspectors are “over the top”.

Is GWIC the reason people are leaving the industry?

Of those participants registered in the industry as at 1 July 2018, 117 did not renew their registration during the re-registration process conducted between June and August 2019.

However, conversely 444 individuals have newly registered over the corresponding period. This means that there has actual been an increase in the number of people participating in the industry of 327.

The Commission does acknowledge that a significant proportion of this increase is due to further individual’s requiring registration following the commencement of the Greyhound Racing Regulation 2019 on 1 September 2019.

Does GWIC have the power to persecute participants for criticising greyhound administration?

This is simply not true. The Commission has never taken action against any industry participants who have expressed critical views about the agency. It is their right to express their views.

However, the Commission has and will continue to take disciplinary action against participants who threaten, harass and abuse Commission staff in person, in writing or over the telephone. This is part of every employer’s duty of care to its staff.