Who rules Racing Australia?
This is a question I don’t know the answer to and I’m up for answers!
When you read all the related spin around the introduction of the new whip rule that comes into force 1 December 2015 it really does make you wonder who has control of the (puppet) strings when decisions are made regarding the direction of Australian Racing.
The latest is we hear Racing Australia (RA) will introduce a new rule that doesn’t differentiate from the use of the whip in the forehand or the backhand. This is an extension of a rule that was introduced in 2009 to restrict whip use to 5 times prior to the 100 meter mark and then unrestricted use in the last 100 meters when in contention. The eventual outcome from the process in 2009 included consultation with all industry participants, a transition period and plenty of education.
While the change was definitely a shift in culture for industry participants, especially the jockeys in Australia, it appeared that proper processes had been followed and the then Australian Racing Board (ARB) had satisfied the legislative and legal requirements under Fair Work Australia for consultation regarding proposed changes in the workplace.
However, amongst the participants, there was a feeling that people with a strong anti-racing agenda had unduly influenced the ARB’s decision.
Even back then (2009) you had the big two states’ (NSW & VIC) Racing Officials pushing there chests out announcing that they with dictate the Rules and Policies for Australian racing. There seemed to be a deal of self interest agenda pushing even back then. I thought that those vocal racing officials in those two states work for the industry like everyone else and only enforce the rules that are set out in the Australian Rules of Racing. I guess not, it appears the big two, who are I might add are merely employees of their Principle Racing Authority (PRA) of there individual states, appear believe they have the right to control and dominate policy and rule changes coming from RA. Domination of a national policy and rule making by one or two states a conflict of interest?
If you’re not in NSW or Vic you’re not in the hunt. RA should be making the rules as an independent body. Surely RA should be above the domination of on or two individual states, but it appears they are not. So who does make the rules in Australian Racing, because it is not the six states and the Northern Territory.
So I guess the question is why do we have a independent board ( Racing Australia) and a CEO, when they don’t or can’t make decisions based on the best interests of the entire Australian Racing Industry ? Why don’t they ensure fair and balanced feedback from participants? Why don’t they follow proper consultative processes? Why does it seem so totally dominated by NSW and VIC racing when it comes time to make a decision?
Not sure where the wider RA members (and its CEO for that matter) have actually been in recent times. They have been very quiet and are nowhere to be seen when these questions are asked. It might be that they are leaving it to those in NSW and VIC who have actually made the decisions to face the questions.
So back to 2015.
RA (and just how united was RA?) makes the decision to change the same whip rules that they introduced in 2009 because “community expectations” said they should. It seems that was enough for RA to implement new rules that don’t differentiate from the forehand or the back hand when using the whip prior to the last 100. But funny, RA and Racing Victoria leaders including one of its leading officials said it’s ok to hit the horse as many times as you like in the last 100 metres. A complete “free for all” in the last 100. I struggle to really see how this satisfies the people that influenced RA to change the rules in order to address the perception of excessive whip use in races.
I’m stunned if the best the minds charged with setting the course for Australian racing can come up with is a rule where you can hit a horse as many times as you can in the last 100 meters in a race. Not only are they great think tanks for Australian Racing, they then have thought how do we introduce this fantastic well thought out idea to our participants?
The answer: let’s not consult all the industry participants and let’s just rely on winning over people that are not in the industry. We’ll let RA (otherwise known as the NSW and VIC Boards) make the decision for us and it’ll just slide quietly through.
So listening to all the media and the racing officials push RA decision, promoting and supporting the new rule, it goes back to my first question: Who makes the rules in Australian Racing?
It’s a bit rich calling it Racing Australia, because if you’re not in NSW and Victoria, you’re not in racing Australia.
When the question of consultation was recently raised RA send emails and text messages to jockeys saying we did consult jockeys but fall short confirming they consulted all industry participants. This is because they didn’t ask them.
When will all RA’s membership be empowered to their job of representing Australia (as distinct from NSW or Victoria)?
When will it begin to act as a independent body working for the good of the industry and its participants?
Maybe RA should put its energies into addressing the ever growing perception that RA does NOT represent the interests of its participants in many of the decisions it makes not controlled by Racing NSW and Racing Victoria and some outside influences.
The times of using master/servant methods of engagement and of not having to be transparent or follow proper process should be well and truly gone.
With the birth of Racing Australia in April this year, I hoped they might have, but, alas, Racing Australia may have changed its name from the Australian Racing Board, but that appears to be about all that’s changed.