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Racing - ORI Staffing

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 9 September 2021

Tags: Office of Racing Integrity, State Budget

Ms O'CONNOR - It is on the same topic so it might be something you want to add to your answer to my question. I have listened very carefully to Mr Winter's questions and Ms Wilson's answers. It is clear that what we are dealing with here are systemic issues.

I heard the deputy secretary speak of culture within the Office of Racing Integrity and, as you know, minister, 21 ORI staff have left in the past three years. The ABC reports that many of those vacancies remain unfilled and that morale is at an all time low.

It is one thing and it is commendable to review the Racing Regulation Act 2004, but what we are hearing from within the racing industry, and also people who are concerned about the welfare of animals, is that there is dysfunction in the Office of Racing Integrity that requires investigation, which won't be captured as part of the review of the act.

Ms HOWLETT - I will answer that first then hand over to you, deputy secretary.

I am pleased to say that the new general manager of ORI, Justin, has been recruited and started last week. I am informed that the recruitment process for the Chairman of Stewards for Thoroughbreds is nearly finalised.

ORI is currently recruiting for an operations manager, a position to bolster the ORI management team. Applications for this role have closed. There is a current vacancy within the regulatory veterinarian position. The secretary of DPIPWE will explore options to support ORI while that recruitment is undertaken.

The steward investigator recruitment process will be commencing soon. ORI will also be employing a third cadet steward this year to strengthen the integrity functions and encourage the cadets to consider stewarding as a long term career. The director of Racing is also close to announcing some short term measures while these current vacancies are being filled.

The review into the Racing Act 2004 will include, as we have stated, both the functions of the Office of Racing Integrity and TasRacing. It is important to note that the review will be undertaken by an independent expert, to be announced in due course, along with the terms of reference and a discussion paper, to encourage broad engagement, including extensive consultation with the industry and the community.

This review will be an important step to ensure that the governance and the integrity model in Tasmania is effective in delivering probity and integrity with appropriate education compliance and enforcement functions that are easily understood by participants and the community.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you for your answer, minister. With the greatest of respect, the review of the legislation that governs the industry is not a cultural change process.

Or are you telling us at the table that there is a move to improve culture within the Office of Racing Integrity to the satisfaction of all participants in the racing industry and, from the Greens' point of view, people who are concerned about the welfare of horses and greyhounds.

Ms HOWLETT - Secretary, would you like to answer the question?

Ms WILSON - As noted, ORI has continued to deliver to support integrity functions underpinning the racing industry in the past year, as demonstrated by reporting on many of the performance measures in the Budget chapter.

However, as we've said, when issues are raised the department does aim to address them and some of the forward looking activities which do go to ensuring the Office of Racing Integrity is there to deliver on probity and integrity is an ORI stewards' training plan.

We're looking at the new GM actively engaging all staff to understand the issues. He has been asked to consider what resources might be needed to support stewards. More importantly, the newly appointed chief people officer and people and culture staff will work with the GM of ORI and ORI staff to look at strategies for supporting the team. We will engage with the CPSU on this.

As the minister said, one of the important things is actually the review of the Racing Regulation Act. When you look at the functions and powers of ORI, they are shared. In some cases, there is an overlap between the Office of Racing Integrity, TasRacing and clubs, for example, around race day management, fields -

When the independent expert does this review it really is about saying what is the best model for probity and integrity? What can we learn from sporting organisations and from other jurisdictions to provide clarities to the powers, roles and functions? One of the things I've learned as a manager over the years is if you give a team clarity as to their function, their objectives and greater clarity around those, it does follow that it supports the team in terms of culture. So, yes, I'm confident that that process will actually assist.

Ms O'CONNOR - They are still being used though. Minister, this is simply an information gathering exercise in terms of full time equivalent stewards in the Office of Racing Integrity. How many stewards are employed by the Office of Racing Integrity - I am happy with head-count or full-time equivalent - 2018-19, 2019-20, 2020-21? I am actually really cool with putting that on notice so that Mr Winter can ask the next question.

Ms WILSON - Through you, minister, we can do this year but I couldn't go back without going into our People and Culture and checking the numbers. If you are prepared to take that on notice?

Ms O'CONNOR - Are you happy for that to go on notice, minister -

Ms HOWLETT - Yes, I am happy for that to go on notice.

Ms O'CONNOR - for the previous years and maybe you could give us this year's numbers.

Ms HOWLETT - We will give you this year's and take the previous year on notice.

Ms WILSON - The information I have, which is undated and this is in regard to positions: •

Three chairmen of stewards. •

Six stipendiary stewards. •

Two steward investigators •

18 casual stewards •

2 cadet stewards.

I am not sure if all of these are currently filled. We may have some vacancies that are being currently filled through an employment process. Have I missed any?

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Ms Wilson. I am happy to write the rest down on notice. Mr Winter has a final question and we have only got two minutes left.

Ms HOWLETT - We have also committed to employing the third cadet as well, this year.