Racing Victoria already has adequate powers to stand down jockeys, the government has said after jockey Damien Oliver was charged over a betting scandal.
Racing Minister Denis Napthine responded on Tuesday to claims by the opposition that he had dragged his feet on giving Racing Victoria Limited powers it had sought to deal with race-fixers and wrongdoers.
The criticism by Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews came after Oliver admitted on Monday to betting on a rival horse and was charged on Tuesday.
“In terms of how we’ve got into what I think is a real mess, with someone charged today who rode … in many parts of the carnival last week, is because Denis Napthine has not given to RVL the powers that they sought, the powers that greyhounds and harness racing have, the powers that racing in NSW and Queensland have,” Mr Andrews told reporters on Tuesday.
“Denis Napthine has filibustered on this, he’s tried to stonewall, he’s got every excuse under the sun, but the fact is this matter would have been resolved before those races last week.”
But Dr Napthine hit back, saying Racing Victoria had clear power to stand down jockeys and had not asked the government for greater stand-down powers.
Dr Napthine said Mr Andrews was misinformed and powers to stand down jockeys already existed under the industry’s own racing rules.
“It is crystal clear that Racing Victoria has the power to stand down jockeys and indeed jockeys have been stood down in recent times in Victoria and NSW,” he said in a statement.
Dr Napthine said that in the two years since the coalition had been in power, Racing Victoria had not asked for any extra powers in relation to standing down jockeys and it had confirmed on Tuesday that it would not be seeking any legislative changes for increased powers in that area.
He said Racing Victoria was an independent body and stewards must be able to operate without political interference.
Racing Victoria chief executive Rob Hines said stewards had been unable to act any earlier while investigating allegations that Oliver breached the rules of racing by betting $10,000 on a rival horse in a race in which he was riding at Moonee Valley two years ago.
The independent racing integrity commissioner is finalising a report on integrity issues across the racing industry.