21 September 2012

Turf and trots stewards merger a non starter (psst, someone tell the Minister)

The mooted merger of NSW trots and turf stewards is a non-starter: only someone forgot to tell the genius who came up with the idea, the state's racing minister, George Souris.

Exactly one year ago today, to the dismay of insiders, Souris decided to let one rip, decreeing the then-disgraced Harness Racing NSW stewards panel would be disbanded and merged with Ray Murrihy's stipendiary regime at Racing NSW.

Taken at the height of the worst integrity scandal in the trots of the modern era, Souris's move was widely viewed as "knee-jerk" by a Minister keen to be seen doing somepin, anypin! As the SMH then reported, Murrihy, the nation's most senior stipe, "wasn't even consulted about the decision".
One year ago, Souris's office put out a statement claiming the decision was:
 "...agreed to by the boards of both Racing NSW and Harness Racing NSW at the request of Mr Souris."
Today, we rang the Minister's press sec for an update:
"It's happened, we put out a release about that months ago." 
A subsequent quick ring around says no: it most certainly has not happened and will not be happening.

Racing NSW chief executive, Peter V'Landys:
"We're not proceeding with it. We said at the time we'd help if we could, but we never asked for it, never pressed for it, and never wanted it. ... We said we'd look at it, the Board resolved to look at it, but it's not progressed."
Harness Racing NSW CEO, Sam Nati:
"Our board at that time never agreed to the proposal, it agreed to investigate the concept. We said: show us where it's been beneficial and we'll take a look at it." What if any due diligence was done on the issue? "Well, that's something you'd need to put to the Minister's office."
Racing NSW Chairman of Stewards, Ray Murrihy:
"That's off the boil now, but you should talk to Peter V'Landys. ... It was described at the time I think as 'ill conceived'."
HRNSW Regulatory Manager, Reid Sanders:
"That's not happening now, but you'll need to talk to Sam Nati."
Back to the Minister's press stanchion for his right of reply:
"Huh, well, there you go. It is what it is!"
But this was the Minister's own proposal, will he be pressing ahead?
"Well, look, it is what it is and he's not here and we'll get back to you Monday."
What it is is a yawning gulf between "putting out a release" and carrying out a decision.

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