And now Victorian Premier Denis Napthine has refused to repeat his demand for answers over RVL's conduct of the Oliver affair during the 2012 spring carnival.
The Premier, who remains fully embedded as Minister for Racing, said through a spokesperson that he:
"has confidence in Sal Perna as the Independent Victorian Racing Integrity Commissioner and there is no doubt Mr Perna is the appropriate authority to investigate the handling of the Damien Oliver investigation."
If you remember, on November 20, 2012, after months of controversy, Napthine finally emerged from his bunker to declare he "was very concerned about allegations of mishandling and delays into resolving the Oliver inquiry". So concerned he put out a release headed:
"Minister seeks independent investigation of Damien Oliver Inquiry"
- "whether (Racing Victoria's) inquiry was conducted as efficiently and expeditiously as possible;
- "the timing of the inquiry including when Racing Victoria was provided with any allegations, evidence and admissions;
- "whether Racing Victoria acted appropriately with respect to its stand down powers; and
- "other related matters which you see fit to examine."
We've been following these particular matters since last August, and, given our opinion that Perna is taking too long to report back to the public on the matter, we put the following questions to the Premier:
- Is the Premier/Minister still "very concerned" to have his questions fully answered on RVL's conduct of the Oliver matter?
- Does the Premier/Minister expect the Racing Integrity Commissioner to conduct and conclude his investigation in a timely manner?
- Is he concerned that the RIC has still not released any findings 6 months after being asked to undertake his inquiry?
- Is he satisfied that public confidence in racing is not being harmed by the information vacuum created while we wait for the RIC to conclude his inquiry?
- If the RIC does not answer the questions the Premier/Minister asked in November to the public's satisfaction, will the Premier be seeking answers through other means at his disposal as Minister for Racing?
- Does the Minister have confidence in the current RIC to maintain public confidence in racing?
- Does the public continue to deserve full and frank answers to the issues the Premier asked the RIC to investigate?
Alas, the Premier's inquisitive drive is waning with the passage of time. He is interested in answering none of our questions, and would now appear indifferent towards Perna's inquiry -- even though he called for it. Says his media man:
"It would would be totally inappropriate for the Premier, or any other member of Parliament to comment on an ongoing independent investigation or to potentially influence the outcome of an independent investigation."Perna did not return our calls but for his part appears happy pottering around the provincials:
"The State's Racing Integrity Commissioner says visiting regional centres has been a valuable opportunity to speak to communities about their perceptions and concerns about corruption in racing. The Commissioner held public information sessions at regional centres across the State, including Sale this week. The Commissioner, Sal Perna, says there's a perception of corruption within racing that isn't backed up by evidence."No evidence, no findings, no comment, no worries.
And that, dear punters, is that.
UPDATE (5PM AEST, April 22): Sal Perna finally returned our calls and said he is "hoping to have it released next week. Has to be legalled you understand, but that's what we're looking at."