After a tumultuous 18 months, Tasmania’s Office Of Racing Integrity is getting back on track under the guidance of new boss Reid Sanders.
Only a few weeks into his new job, Sanders has had ORI personnel briefed by the leading integrity experts in the country and foreshadowed imminent action on some important cases.
It won’t come a moment too soon for those in the racing industry who have watched ORI almost self-destruct since mid-2016.
So much so, that Racing Minister Jeremy Rockliff conceded at an integrity conference in Launceston on Friday that he’d had a request to dissolve the body in its current form.
He said the Government had received a request to merge ORI with Tasracing but decided against it because he believed the two bodies needed autonomy.
What ORI really needed was stability, after a succession of steward resignations, reports of multiple staff on stress leave and even an accusation of workplace bullying.
Long-time head Tony Murray resigned 14 months ago but, as far as industry confidence in ORI was concerned, little changed.
The Government couldn’t find a permanent replacement and a host of positive swab cases dragged on and on.
The appointment of Sanders, one of the most experienced and respected integrity officials in the business, didn’t come a moment too soon. And, he knew what he was stepping in to.
“One thing the industry was telling me when I first arrived in the state was that it believed ORI didn’t deliver and is a waste of money,” Sanders said.
“It is my task to ensure that is not the case and there are (now) processes in place to correct the issues.
“There are cases we are working on at present that will make it clear ORI is definitely not a waste of money.”
There are cases we are working on at present that will make it clear ORI is definitely not a waste of moneyReid Sanders
Australia’s former top thoroughbred steward Ray Murrihy, Sydney lawyer Hamish Cockburn, former ORI acting head Dr Alicia Fuller, Harness NSW integrity manager Michael Prentice and Tasracing boss Vaughn Lynch were among the speakers at Sanders’ ground-breaking integrity conference.
An impressive lineup – in keeping with Jeremy Rockliff’s assertion that “the key to the future success of racing in Tasmania rests with ORI.”