Chairman’s Message

Summary of the Chairman’s Annual Report 2017


The reformation era continues

The success of greyhound racing’s journey from crisis to recovery since early 2015 continues. Industry change remains informed by external reviews but characterised by experience and participant feedback. GA member Boards and management remain determined to effectively manage animal welfare and integrity risk.

Greyhounds Australasia (GA) has led industry thinking on future industry requirements since early 2014. To regain public trust, the industry had to put animal welfare first, seek to rehome all greyhounds capable of finding a new home, and be honest, accountable, responsive and transparent.

As GA Chairman, now reporting for the eighth time, I am proud of the work of our nine members, and associated regulatory agencies, for the dedication they have shown for this task over the past twelve months. Record wagering turnover has been matched by very significant progress across all major animal welfare and integrity measures.

NSW and ACT government decisions

The year began with the Premier of New South Wales’ shock decision to ban the New South Wales industry. The decision was ostensibly on the back of the Special Commission of Inquiry’s report into the NSW greyhound racing industry following the fallout from the February 2015 ABC Four Corners’ program "Making A Killing".

As I reported last year, GA believed the decision to be wrong headed and deeply unfair. The ban ignored early reform efforts and the impact it would have on the very many decent participants and service providers relying on the industry to make a living. The ban had the very real potential to severely damage other jurisdictions’ success and I was very pleased that this organisation played a significant role in supporting the NSW Industry Alliance’s efforts to change the Premier’s mind, which he eventually did in October, after the passing of legislation confirming the ban two months earlier.

Regrettably, and unfairly, the ACT Labor/Greens government remains determined to bring their industry to an end. Conflating the NSW experience as described by the Special Commission of Inquiry into NSW Greyhound Racing with a political desire to end an animal industry, this outrageous decision deliberately overlooks the Canberra Greyhound Racing Club’s clean welfare and integrity record. GA and its members remain supportive of all the considerable efforts the Canberra club is making to retain its deserved place in the Australasian greyhound racing industry.

Managing ethical and financial risk

The decision to ban the NSW industry accelerated a decline in breeding market confidence during the year. Numbers of greyhounds bred continued to fall with lead GA indicators such as the number of bitches being DNA tested (as a prerequisite for registration as a breeding female) and the number of frozen breeding units registered and transferred throughout the year all predicting continued breeding activity decline.

GA views breeding volume moderation as an inevitable response to industry reform, characterised by more stringent regulation and policing across all welfare and integrity measures. There is also evidence of cultural change in member jurisdictions as the majority of participants in key jurisdictions come to grips with what it means to belong to a credibly regulated industry.

Until this year, our industry was burdened by significant over-breeding a fact acknowledged by each of the state based independent inquiries of 2015 and 2016. The impact was that far too many rehomable greyhounds did not live out their natural lives and this bedevilled our industry’s reputation and prospects for advancement.

To address this critical issue, the majority of states established full rehoming targets in August 2016. I am pleased to report that members have made great progress towards achieving their goals. In particular, it is likely that GRV, GRSA and RWWA will achieve their full rehoming targets sometime in calendar year 2018 a phenomenal turnaround from just two years ago.

The 28 per cent decline in breeding volume this year compared with the previous year (which was also down significantly on FY15) has contributed greatly to this achievement. However, it is the record investments in Greyhound Adoption Programs (GAPs), burgeoning partnerships with non- industry rehoming agencies and cultural and regulatory changes supporting rehoming as an ownership obligation in a number of jurisdictions that has set these industries up for long term success.

Over 7,000 greyhounds were rehomed in Australia and New Zealand during the year resulting in very significant reductions in our euthanasia rate. The industry’s GAPs were responsible for nearly half of all adoptions twice the number adopted from just two years ago. With a little over 8,000 greyhounds being whelped during the year, a sustainable whelp/rehome model is realistic in the medium term.

Given where the industry has come from, there is irony in it now having to manage the risk of insufficient supply to meet race commitments. In addressing this risk, GA members have sought to improve the percentage of greyhounds whelped that race by introducing more race opportunities for less capable greyhounds, further reduce injury and failure to pursue rates by introducing new hoop arm lures and trialling finish on lures and investing in track improvements. Some members have sought to reallocate funds to support the breeding of quality greyhounds.

Rebuilding Industry Confidence

There is strong reason to believe that industry confidence will return in the very short term on the back of more racing opportunities for all greyhounds. The biggest confidence booster will be the emergence of a newly sustainable NSW industry achieving mandated outcomes. With two years of reform under its collective belt, GA and its members will support the execution of NSW’s plans over the next several years.

The reform programs in Victoria and Queensland will be completed during 2018, the progress in Tasmania against its Senate Select Committee’s reform is ongoing, the high integrity and welfare standards in South Australia and Western Australia remain and the New Zealand industry continues to leverage its learnings from several years ago and leads on many welfare and integrity measures. In each jurisdiction, record numbers of greyhound and property inspections and greyhound swabbing across Australasia were undertaken during the year with the introduction of appropriate rule and policy settings to manage ongoing risk.

A record $6.5B was wagered on greyhound racing in the Australian states during the year, a substantial turnover improvement from the previous year with comparable race volumes indicating significant wagering market confidence in our great product.

GA Operations

During the year, GA revised, and introduced, a new GA committee structure for the GA Board and individual jurisdictions to take greater advantage of the experiences of reforming states and to drive national projects and outcomes for the benefit of all members.

GA delivered a lifecycle management tool to each Australian state this year. The tool, developed by KPMG, was designed to help members identify the impact of change initiatives on greyhound volumes in each lifecycle stage. This tool was instrumental in GA being able to provide the NSW Premier with a credible alternative operating model to the one operating at the time he banned the industry.

During the year, a National Breeding Framework was established by Directors to guide national discussions and decision making on industry sustainability. Covering welfare and commercial risk factors, the framework covers the viability of participation; the Quality of Operations (grading, tracks, chase motivation); Greyhound Supply; and Welfare (full rehoming, track safety).

The GA Board also refreshed its vision and values, in keeping with the pace of industry reform. GA’s vision is to foster a cohesive and vibrant national greyhound racing industry that is a valued part of the community, and that puts animal welfare and integrity at the centre of everything it does. GA values putting animal welfare first, honesty, integrity, responsiveness, accountability and transparency.

The decline in breeding volume since mid 2015 had put significant pressure on GA’s revenue model. For the first time in many years, an annual fee was levied on all members to support GA’s service offerings to members and participants. Disciplined expenditure, particularly with a view to the probable consequences of a NSW ban, delivered a substantial surplus for the year which has contributed to a level of reserves that may provide fee relief options to both members and participants in future budgets. The FY17 member fee was set at a level that minimised participant fee increases for services such as Frozen Semen Insemination Registrations, Services and Transfers; Naming; and DNA.

The rewrite of the national rules (GARs) has continued through the year with the project due for conclusion in early 2018. A reformatted national rule book that eliminates duplication and makes for greater readability will result.

A national GAP brand was introduced during the year. The brand, effectively a master brand for existing state GAP brands, has limited application beyond a high quality website thus far, but offers the prospect of a single GAP brand in future years.

Thank you

Progressing national change in this environment has never been harder but I greatly respect the contributions of my fellow Directors and Alternate Directors.

Directors Barry Hamilton (RWWA) and Gary Collier (ACT) resigned their roles during the year and I thank them for their contributions. The Board also welcomed Directors Michael Gordon (Tasracing) and John Gibbons (Administrator of GRNSW) and Alternate Directors Vaughn Lynch (Tasracing), Kel Watt (ACT) and Sean Hannan (GRNZ) during the year.

As always, I am indebted to the work of our Chief Executive Scott Parker and his team of Michelle Grima, Marsha Zinas and Heather Villinger. Scott’s foresight in establishing a tool that identified the impact of change on the volume of greyhounds in each lifecycle stage, including retirement and euthanasia, meant all members could use an evidence based approach to deciding on reform solutions. His alternative operating model, developed using this tool and adopted by the NSW Alliance, was one of the biggest contributors to the ban being overturned. The industry should be forever grateful for his contribution.

The office has maintained its high standards throughout the year. On behalf of its members, the office named 11,382 greyhounds and processed 1,499 Frozen Semen Insemination (FSI) Registrations, 1,857 FSI transfers and 1,329 FSI services. It processed 850 DNA’s and registered 38 sires.

Finally, I know industry change has not been easy for many this year and I thank the 30,000 participants in Australia and New Zealand who remain so invested in this industry’s success.

Russell Ware



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