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The board of Racing NSW is in caretaker mode with the announcement of new legislation to introduce reforms to racing’s governing body.

The present five-member board, which has been in operation for less than three years after reforms made by the previous government, will be replaced by a seven-member board under changes to the Thoroughbred Racing Act.

Racing minister George Souris announced the proposed changes to the legislation on Tuesday, saying they would broaden the skills base of the board and strengthen appointment procedures and eligibility and conflict of interest requirements.

Some of the key changes listed:-

* A person is not eligible to sit on the board if he or she has been an employee or committee member of a race club or industry association in the previous 12 months.

* Expressly prohibit board membership if the selection panel determines that the person has a direct or indirect pecuniary interest in conflict with the role of a board member.

* Strengthen the conflict of interest provision in the Act requiring the disclosure of a direct or indirect interest in a matter under consideration by Racing NSW.

* Prohibit a board member from participating in the consideration of a matter in which they have acquired and disclosed a pecuniary interest.

The board member selection panel will provide a short list of candidates to the minister who will make the final selection and also appoint the chair and deputy chair of Racing NSW.

“In 2008 a new independent board model was introduced in an attempt to end factionalism and self interest and ensure members act in the best interests of the NSW racing industry as a whole,” Souris said.

“However, a review of the current provisions demonstrates insufficient legislative content ensuring adequate resources and skills and eliminating the influence of factional and personal interests in decision making.

“By increasing the size of the board we are providing more members to manage the workload and a broader range of skills to ensure the future sustainability of the racing industry.

“We are also strengthening eligibility requirements for the future so that somebody cannot simply resign from their position on the committee of a race club one day and then run for a position on the board of Racing NSW the next day.”

If the reforms are passed by parliament a new selection process will be held to test the market place for the best persons available under the new arrangements. Existing members will be eligible to apply for appointment once advertisements are placed.

Alan Bell is the current chairman of Racing NSW having taken over from Alan Brown earlier this year when the latter stepped aside short of his four-year term.

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