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What on earth is going on at Racing Australia?

Described as the peak National Administration body for the thoroughbred racing industry in Australia, Racing Australia is stuck in an impasse which is putting their profile in negative territory and currently doing nobody any good at all.

John Messara has quit his position as Chairman of Racing Australia less than a year after stepping into the role … just two days after Myles Foreman, the CEO of Racing Australia, also handed in his notice.

It had been hoped that Messara would be the man to pour cold water on the on-going tug of war between Racing New South Wales and Racing Victoria, who have constantly seemed to be pulling in different directions in recent years … but brokering even a small show of unity between the two major parties in the industry looks to have been beyond him.

“I joined the Board of Racing Australia as its first ever Independent Chairman with the intention of reconciling differences,” Messara said in a statement.

“I am now stepping aside to allow the Board to vote in a new Chair, who I hope will have more success than I have had.”

The statement probably says it all.

The worry now is twofold.

Firstly, there is the question that if a man with all of the racing experience and administrative savvy that Messara possesses cannot successfully move the situation forward in a positive direction, is there really anyone who assume the role and get a more productive result?

Secondly, if that person cannot be found … where to now for Racing Australia?

All racing precincts … Racing Victoria, Racing NSW, Racing Queensland, Racing Western Australia, Racing South Australia and TasRacing, Canberra Racing and NT Racing … have representation on the Racing Australia Board … but not equal standing when it comes to voting rights, where Racing Victoria and racing New South Wales capability far outweighs that of any other state.

In essence, they make the decisions … and if they don’t work together, it becomes a problem.

For whatever reason … and there are probably plenty of sub plots to the issue if the finger pointing that has taken place is anything to go by … it has long since passed the simple problematic stage and become a very serious standoff issue with the ensuing consequences … not least the resignation of Messara and Foreman.

According to the Racing Australia Constitution, ‘The Directors may meet, adjourn and otherwise regulate their meetings as they think fit provided that they shall meet not less than 4 times each financial year.’

You would think that limited demand would give then enough leeway to work around any possible aggravation, but seemingly just to get the Racing Australia Board around the table has become a real sticking problem in itself.

This, impasse has left the work of a number of Racing Australia advisory groups in limbo … and it would be fair to suggest that there has to be some issues very pertinent to the on-going well-being of the racing industry waiting to be addressed … and others piling up.

These advisory groups investigate and make recommendations on a variety of important issues. Most recommendations are only arrived at after a thorough investigation which normally takes longer than most people would like.

So, if the activities of the Racing Australia Board and its advisory groups is virtually at a standstill at this time, just how far is Racing Australia behind the eight ball and can they play their way out of the sorry position they find themselves in.

Surely, they have to find a way to do just that … or … the core dynamics of Racing Australia set-up has to be redefined, restructured, and implemented in a way where it can tackle its tasks with a full focus and get the job, that it was designed to do, done it a more compelling and acceptable fashion to all than is the case right now.

Some will say the unselfish blending of the racing families from different precincts is a forlorn hope given the current evidence before us … but, for exactly the same reason … based on the evidence before us, it should rather be seen as a ‘must do’ priority.

All of the racing stakeholders deserve better than the situation they have to put up with right now.

One way or another, it simply has to change.

 
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