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Racing Industry - Allegations and Actions of Minister

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 28 March 2023

Tags: Horse Racing, Integrity


You were personally contacted about serious animal welfare issues at Ben Yole's stable almost two months ago and you did not even respond. We also know you have been contacted about allegations of team driving.

Our officers also heard from a whistleblower who wrote to the minister, chief steward and the Office of Racing Integrity two years ago to pass on information about a group of Yole drivers operating a private betting scam along with a team-driving practice. The whistleblower believed they had already made tens of thousands of dollars and no action was taken by ORI. So scared were they of repercussions, this person sent the letter anonymously and destroyed all copies.

This is an industry you say has never been in better shape. You sat on these serious allegations for months without acting until they received media attention. Following Sunday's national media embarrassment, your first instinct was to have ORI investigate, even though ORI themselves are at the centre of this whole stinking mess. On your watch, this looks a lot like state-sanctioned and subsidised cheating, industrial-scale animal cruelty and, potentially, corruption. Minister, why have you not resigned in shame?



Mr Speaker, it is an important question. The issue we are discussing today is very important and goes to the heart of probity, integrity and animal welfare in the racing industry.

Dr Woodruff - And your credibility.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Ms OGILVIE - I have always taken action when it comes to any concerns -

Ms White - That is a lie.

Mr SPEAKER - Order. You will withdraw that, Leader of the Opposition.

Ms WHITE - I withdraw, Mr Speaker.

Ms OGILVIE - over integrity and animal welfare. All credible concerns have been referred to the appropriate authorities for expert investigation.

Ms O'Connor - Who's that? ORI?

Ms OGILVIE - I am aware of social media commentary and other commentary around this matter, but it is right and proper that I refer matters that are brought to my attention by way of complaint to the authorities, and that is ORI and the Director of Racing. That happens as a matter of course.

I have and will always elevate our response according to the circumstances. That is why, with regard to these latest claims, I decided not just make that referral to ORI but I have also launched an independent review. I am proud of the fact that we are taking this strong and decisive action.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker, under standing order 45, relevance. Perhaps the minister could address the question which was why she has not resigned in shame?

Mr SPEAKER - Order. A point of order is not an opportunity to make an argument again or re-ask the question. The minister is answering the question as I see it. I will allow the minister to continue.

Ms OGILVIE - Thank you, Mr Speaker. My responses have always been timely, targeted and appropriate and I have not delayed. Probity, integrity and animal welfare are the bedrock of our approach to racing. It is very important, has always been and will always be of prime importance.

These issues of probity and integrity are critically important in the racing industry because they underpin confidence in our industry, in our sector and what we do across all three codes in this state. My position and our Government's position is clear: we will not compromise on integrity or animal welfare. We are launching today - and I am proud to do it - an independent investigation -

Members interjecting.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Ms OGILVIE - the terms of reference, which are currently being prepared and will be made publicly available. No doubt people would like to have some input into that. I have determined that this investigation needs to be independent of the ORI. The Premier and I agree on this approach.

Members interjecting.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Ms OGILVIE - I will not be discussing specific plans, particularly allegations raised in recent reports. I assure the House that probity, integrity and animal welfare will always come first. As we develop the terms of reference, they will be made publicly available and an appropriate independent expert will be appointed.

Mr Speaker, for the record, over the weekend I asked the Department of NRE Tasmania to immediately also carefully review the information contained in the media reports. Yesterday, in addition to that, I announced this independent review into the allegations.

Ms O'Connor - Yes, under pressure.

Ms OGILVIE - I hope that all the people in this House who care about our racing sector, about animal welfare, and about integrity and probity will endorse and get on board with this investigation.