All members would be aware of the current media campaign being waged between the AJA and Racing Australia (RA). At the heart of this are the changes proposed by RA to the rules relating to the use of whips and the consultation process therein, which has now been broadened to the overall process of consultation between Stakeholder representative organizations and RA.
From an ATA perspective, we respect the role that RA plays, which includes responsibility for making and/or amending the rules of racing. Against this backdrop, the ATA continues to work on its relationship with RA, with the aim of achieving balance between proposed change, and the wants and needs of the training profession. This has worked to our advantage and that of our members recently (and more broadly the industry), with the positive outcome evidenced by RA support for, and the ultimate adoption of, the Owner/Trainer Security model (which will be rolled out nationally in March 2016).
In a further effort to import maximum influence into the RA consultation process, the ATA National Office also sent a letter on 14 October 2015 to RA proposing that formal engagement with Stakeholder representative organizations should commence when the RA sub-committees (for example veterinary and integrity) are considering new rules or amendments to existing rules. It is the ATA view that such a change would access Stakeholder expertise and input before rules are drafted, thus producing better outcomes for the Australian racing industry.
We received acknowledgement from RA 15 October 2015 to our letter, wherein they indicated a genuine desire to look at ways to improve communication, stating this was a “shared objective”. We are presently working on a date to meet with their CEO, Mr Peter McGauran, to continue the discussion - we will update members again shortly when matters progress here.
As regards the change to the whip rule. The AJA has led the charge on this very public debate, and for good reason, given this is central to the function of the jockey. This is not to say that the ATA or trainer members have not engaged in the debate. On the contrary, the ATA and AJA have had numerous discussions at a national level, and at state branch level, and with trainer members at grass roots level at racetracks and training venues.
We have also spoken with RA on a number of occasions to offer our views and detail our position. And quite rightly so, given it is an issue which has implications for all, not simply the jockey.
Recently, and in an effort to break the impasse, the AJA put forward a counter proposal to the RA rule change, which was aired publicly on the television program “Correct Weight”, on 22 November 2015. We have now had the opportunity to discuss the finer detail of this counter proposal with the AJA, and in turn, relay this to our Federal and State Executives and a number of trainer members nationally, to gauge their views. In response, the majority view reflected by those individuals was that the AJA counter proposal will offer a better overall outcome for industry participants AND the community than will the RA rule, due to come into effect 1 December 2015. With the ATA having arrived at this view, we would hope that RA also see the practical advantages of the AJA counter proposal, and trust in the spirit of co-operation, this will lead to the two parties re-entering into meaningful discussions to resolve this issue, sooner rather than later, and without the need for further, unhelpful public debate.
To all members, rest assured that your Association is across ALL matters of importance, and continues to represents your interests robustly in discussions with RA, PRA’s, race clubs and indeed, all industry stakeholders, as and when necessary to do so. This typically does not involve the ATA publicly airing the matter, or their views, through social media sites, or through public mediums, such as print, radio or television, until we have a considered position approved by its members, and constructive commentary to offer in the solution. Neither do we make any apology for this policy, it has been the foundation policy of the ATA since incorporation, and has served our members, and the training profession at large, very well.
I would urge members to express your views in response to this letter, either by email, or simply contact the office should any one wish to discuss this matter in person with myself.