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By David Fowler | Tuesday, November 20, 2018

David Fowler is the principal thoroughbred caller for Radio TAB. David, who is a keen form student and punter, has enjoyed a lifetime involvement in the racing media. His personal blog, ‘My Call’, appears exclusively on HRO.

The Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) is defined as an "independent statutory body."

But QRIC is also a function of State Government, created out of the establishment of the 2016 Racing Integrity Act.

And this inextricable link has to be strongly considered when marking the report card of QRIC after two and a half years of existence.

This was one of the conclusions I drew after my interview with its Commissioner Ross Barnett on Radio TAB's Press Room yesterday.

Barnett conceded the current justice process from potentially Internal Review to QCAT appeal is too slow. It was impossible to argue differently.

But these processes were legislated as the Labor State Government's preferred choice.

Racing has been "straight jacketed" into an integrity format identical to other societal pursuits.

For numerous reasons already outlined by many, this system doesn't work for racing apart from the obvious snail's pace resolution of justice.

Bluntly, QRIC is stuck with it at the behest of the State Government.

Barnett even went as far to say that if there was a better system, he would like to hear about it.

This was precisely my point after the "prizemoney" victory last month. The QCAT situation also needs urgent discussion between the industry and the Government.

The cost of QRIC is often a talking point in racing circles but Barnett's response clearly demonstrated it has nil effect on stakeholders' potential returns.

The estimated $15 million integrity cost under the former Racing Queensland model was simply transferred across to QRIC with the additional funding now provided by the State Government.

While the budgeted figure of almost $28 million for 2018/19 can be scrutinised and criticised, it's the Government that's footing the bill, not the stakeholders.

On the flip side, I'm less forgiving about QRIC's performance on the field of achieving results (or not for that matter).

And this is one area that QRIC can't fall back into the arms of Government.

They are totally responsible for their successes or failures.

It's not a secret that the relationship between the stewards and the Queensland Police Racing Crime squad is frosty.

Barnett did not concede this but did not vehemently deny it either.

Finding common ground seems a difficult task yet both sides have genuine strengths to offer each other.

The Ben Currie saga in the thoroughbred world and three cases in harness racing being thrown out are the most significant examples the QRIC critics cite.

Would these all have had different outcomes had the stewards and Police Squad had a better working relationship?

Barnett did not try to sugar coat the harness situation yet claimed a call on QRIC's performance was too early to make with five cases still to be played out.

And the Currie situation still has a long way to go.

As they say, time will tell.

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David Fowler
David Fowler
Queensland's Own www.horseracingonly.com.au Queensland's Best