Ex-police watchdog to oversee greyhound industry probe

An ex-commissioner of the NSW police watchdog will oversee an inquiry into greyhound racing after the industry's departing chief vet aired allegations of widespread animal-welfare breaches.

But the probe, to be headed by Lea Drake, has been dismissed by opponents as a political fig leaf for a sector long beset by serious integrity issues.

Ms Drake would be appointed acting commissioner of the NSW Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission to lead the inquiry into Greyhound Racing NSW, Racing Minister David Harris announced on Thursday.

"Since becoming minister, I have received, or become aware of, a range of complaints related to the governance and operation of Greyhound Racing NSW," he said.

"Ms Drake is an eminently qualified person to lead this inquiry."

Greyhound
The CEO of Greyhound Racing NSW resigned after a report by its former chief vet became public.

The Greyhound Racing NSW board has until the end of Friday to explain why it should not be stood down under a show-cause notice previously issued by the minister.

The inquiry will probe complaints about the organisation's governance and operations, as well as track safety and animal-welfare issues.

Ms Drake was a member of the Fair Work Commission for more than two decades and served as one of the inaugural commissioners at the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission, which oversees police in NSW.

She will report to the minister by December 13.

Premier Chris Minns on Wednesday ruled out shutting down greyhound racing, but Mr Harris said that decision would not limit the inquiry's scope.

"This is about ensuring that greyhound racing is conducted under the terms of its licence, that it employs best practice and that we have an industry that is viable but has as its main feature animal welfare," the minister said.

But Greens MP Abigail Boyd said the constrained inquiry would not include scope to end the industry and did not include any mention of a review of the commission's oversight of the sector.

"This inquiry appears to be, for all intents and purposes, a farce and a political cover up for the greyhound racing cabal," she said.

A 2016 special commission of inquiry led to then-Liberal premier Mike Baird announcing he would shut greyhound racing down, but he reversed the move after a fierce backlash from industry supporters.

Opposition racing spokesman Kevin Anderson welcomed the inquiry, saying the previous coalition government established the integrity commission and took other measures to have the industry operate responsibly and sustainably.

The racing industry body's chief executive, Robert Macaulay, resigned on Tuesday after a report by its former chief veterinary officer Alex Brittan became public.

The document includes claims greyhound deaths were being hidden, adoption rates exaggerated and dogs pushed to race at levels causing injuries.

Greyhound Racing NSW has appointed former Victorian police chief Graham Ashton to investigate Dr Brittan's allegations.

The organisation's acting chief executive Wayne Billett said it looked forward to seeing the inquiry's terms of reference.

“We welcome the opportunity for external examination of our processes and record, including the modernisation process that has been undertaken in recent years," he said.

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