Great to see the Department of Internal Affairs is moving again on pokie trust corruption.
I was dismayed to find when I accepted the Chairmanship of Wellington Rugby League a resigned expectation of corruption from the old hands. They were almost all decent people, repaying their sport for what it had given them by putting their time into administration. They'd been worn down by the survival of corrupt bosses in the sport, mainly operating out of Auckland. Seemingly limitless access to pokie money with which to buy elections and suborn local clubs and local officers had left them cynical.
We turned that expectation around in Wellington, but not before running into some blatant trust rorting, reported to SPARC (to no apparent effect) and to Sir John Anderson (with great effect). It seemed to lead toward some politicians, which left me wondering whether the then Minister of Sport had played any part in discouraging SPARC from responding to my Board's offer to set up a sting.
The subject was top of mind when I saw today's report, because of media enquiries over the last week about the appointment and subsequent withdrawal of Kerry Hoggard from the Racing Integrity Unit.
I have no reason to think that Kerry Hoggard is in any way connected to pokie trust mismanagement or corruption. Nor do I have any reason to consider him to be unsuitable for that role, other than his historic conduct and the need for an integrity enforcement body to comprise people of impeccable reputation.
But I did think it was sadly typical of the racing industry, not to be sensitive to the likelihood that such an appointment would be seen as a joke, given the name of the disciplinary body. From what I heard when I was learning about the problems in cleaning up the pokie trusts, League was the poor relation. Some of the horse racing codes were far more closely tapped into the trusts.
Time to end horse racing's special status. Whey should they have a Minister of their own? Or are they keeping the position to again buy the support of a potential swing party notoriously susceptible to baubles.