If anyone wants to go to the court case today, it is at 10am and here are the details –
GRNSW and the Dapto Agricultural & Horticultural Society (DAHS) were back in court yesterday, and a member of the Coalition attended the hearing to try to find out what the hell is going on. In short, there was no decision yesterday, and the proceedings will continue today. We did learn a few things though, which may make things clearer or more confusing for you!
A quick recap:
The Dapto Greyhound track is at the Dapto Show Grounds. It is an agricultural show ground which holds many other activities, in addition to greyhound racing. The land is owned by the Dapto Agricultural and Horticultural Society (DAHS) and they have been running since 1857, with the first greyhound races commencing in 1937. The Dapto Greyhound Racing Club is a sub-committee of the DAHS.
For some time, greyhound racing has been run on Thursday nights at Dapto, but for the last 12 months GRNSW have been in negotiations with the DAHS to change the greyhound racing night to a Saturday night. GRNSW want to do this because it means more money to run these TAB races on a Saturday night. The DAHS does not wish to do this because it does not believe it to be financially viable. The DAHS earns more money from other activities that are held on Saturday nights. If greyhounds are raced on Saturday, these other activities cannot be held.
The DAHS board made the unexpected decision to not renew the registration of the Dapto Dogs, which expired at the end of October. GRNSW were notified on Wednesday 6th November. The DAHS said that racing would not continue any more at Dapto Show Ground, effective immediately. To say that GRNSW got the shock of their life was an understatement. They clearly did not see this coming. Immediately GRNSW took legal action and took over Dapto Dog Racing by appointing an administrator. How the hell can they do this, you ask – we’ll get back to this.
GRNSW claimed that the DAHS had not given them financial statements.
The DAHS claims they have done everything required and sent out a press release calling for the sacking of GRNSW CEO, Tony Mestrov! Things got even uglier when the power was cut on Thursday night and computers and hard drives were removed (that is GRNSW’s claim). Greyhound racing went ahead on Thursday night, but what is going to happen this Thursday and the coming weeks is at this point unknown. What is going to happen to the other activities which occur at the Dapto Show ground is also unknown.
Ok, so what happened in court yesterday and what did we learn?
Well……..It was messy and very little was resolved, hence it is continuing today.
To be clear, this hearing is just an interim hearing, which is about “preserving rights and property pending the resolution of further proceedings”. The Supreme Court can grant injunctions, including interlocutory injunctions, which means a court can make orders compelling a party to do something or preventing them from doing something. This hearing is simply focusing on what happens to Dapto Greyhounds Racing in the short term. It doesn’t necessarily indicative of what the final outcome will be.
So what are GRNSW saying?
GRNSW are saying that under the powers given to them by the Greyhound Racing Act 2017 (NSW) they have the power to appoint an administrator of a Racing Club (s 24(j)). But as Justice Robb pointed out, the Greyhound Racing Act does not provide any details under what circumstances an Administrator can be appointed, for how long and what are they required to do. The legislation is completely silent on these issues, which has made this case more complex and unclear.
GRNSW are also arguing that they have this power under the legislation because the DAHS is a ‘greyhound racing club’, but DAHS dispute this as they conduct other activities in addition to greyhound racing. They say they are not just a ‘greyhound racing club’ and therefore an Administrator cannot just take over all the activities of the DAHS.
DAHS argue that an Administrator doesn’t know anything about running the rest of the activities that they engage in like the Sunday markets, football games and their other activities. They only know about greyhound racing. DAHS seem like they are trying to cooperate and have agreed that the Administrator can run greyhound racing in the interim, until the case goes to a full hearing, but only the greyhound racing activities. GRNSW and Administrator are disputing this and are saying they should have full control of all activities until the whole issue has been resolved. Reading between the lines, it is probably because they want access to all the financial books for all activities and maybe even to ‘manage’ a future voting event where the members decide whether they continue with greyhound racing. This is just a guess.
A few interesting things came from the hearing yesterday. Justice Robb really highlighted the problematic situation of a quasi public-private body indefinitely taking over an organisation, which happens to have one of its functions greyhound racing. He also emphasized that yes the legislation does give GRNSW the power appoint an Administrator, but it DOESN’T have the power to make an organisation conduct greyhound racing if they don’t want to. Yes – hello – this seems to be the real issue here!
Also worth noting was that there is a difference between registration and a license. The registration of Dapto Greyhound Racing Club expired (which was then extended by GRNSW), but the license is actually perpetual. If the DAHS want to revoke their greyhound racing licence they need to apply to the Minister for Racing and ask for it to be revoke. They need to ask! I mean what the!
The other thing that seemed to be going on at the hearing, was that the barristers for the Administrator and GRNSW kept repeating the fact that the number one objective of the DAHS was animal racing, as stated in their constitution, and therefore they seemed to engaging in a heinous crime for not deciding to not continue with this activity. But as Justice Robb pointed out, all that is required to stop animal racing is for members vote to not continue with this objective and they don’t even need to change their constitution.
This is my take on the whole situation: GRNSW don’t believe or trust the DAHS. It seems they think that they don’t believe the financial situation is as bad as it is made out. It’s like they are saying – give us the books – we will show it is financially viable – AND – we will go to the members and get them to vote on the issue to support the continuation of animal racing. So I see this as GRNSW’s long game. They want to get control of the Club for a period of time and then get the members to vote to support greyhound racing (after GRNSW magically show how financially viable it is) so greyhound racing will continue.
I am not convinced that GRNSW will win the court case (maybe in the interim, but not long term), but in the event they do, what greyhound lovers could do, is join the Dapto Agricultural & Horticultural Society (cost is $12) and so if there is a vote about whether to discounted greyhound racing, they could go to the meeting a vote. Got a spare $12 – join today!
If all this is a rather gobbledygook – well believe me – the Judge was struggling a bit was well, and because he wasn’t across the Greyhound Racing Act, it made it even harder. Anyway, we’ll see what today brings. Don’t despair if greyhound racing continues in the interim, because that is not necessarily indicative of what will happen. The court has to make some fair and equitable orders on how to manage the activities and property in the short term before the issue is properly resolved.
Article Australian Racing Greyhound 11/11/19
Article The Greyhound Recorder 10/11/19
Greyhound Racing Act 2017 (NSW)
Dapto Society’s media releases
Want to join the Dapto A & H Society?