It always amazes me why many key racing industry stakeholders in Queensland openly bag politicians. Normally in the next sentence they long for the days of Russ Hinze or Bob Gibbs, depending on which side of the fence they straddle.
Surely these people should have learned a valuable lesson following the unexpected demolition of the Campbell Newman led conservative government? Many industry leaders’ unleashed tirades of abuse at the Labor Party thinking it would be a good while before we saw a change of state government back to the left. The unthinkable happened, and the conservatives were unceremoniously washed from government. So it was certainly no surprise to see the previous board and management of Racing Queensland dismantled. This was of course aided by a timely greyhound scandal. I’m not suggesting that sacking the Kevin Dixon led board was right or wrong. But perhaps if there had been some better chosen words pre Campbell Newman, we may well have had a better outcome and less upheaval ?
Equally astonishing is Queensland’s inability to replicate the aspects critical to the success of the strong racing states in Victoria and New South Wales. Both states have had regular changes of state governments over the past 10 years; flip flopping between Labor and Liberal almost at will. But unlike Racing Queensland, both Racing NSW and Racing Victoria seem able to remain in one piece post election. No widespread sackings, no massive restructures, no futile logo changes or no costly outside administrators. People like John Messara seem able to work with both sides of politics and remain somewhat A political, for the benefit of the industry. Messara and men like him seem to transcend politics and get on with business.
If there is one major lesson to learn about the turmoil that has engulfed racing in the Sunshine State its that as stakeholders we need to work with both sides of politics, and be more respectful of both in public forums. With governments and leaders being changed like dirty underwear nowadays, we cannot afford to be perceived as an industry that sways one way or the other. We need participants of all political and socio economic persuasions to function as a viable industry.
Racing is wrongly portrayed by many as the sport of the rich. We don’t do much to help that falsehood by mostly espousing allegiance to the conservative side of politics. The road to ruin is littered with many beaten hotpots just like Campbell Newman.
The massive challenge for the next CEO of Racing Queensland is to cut through the politics and play both sides of parliament much better than prior administrators here have. The best way to do this is by probably appointing an outsider without the baggage or preconceptions held by many already involved in the Queensland industry.
The challenge of course will be to attract the right man or women for the job. I'm certain the three code model of gallops, trots and dogs is a major detractor from the CEO position. There are many clever people out there who would jump at the job if it encompassed just thoroughbreds.