Racing NSW board members poised for extended 10 year terms

Deputy chair Tony Hodgson will also have served eight years on the board next month, while Dr Saranne Cooke is up for reappointment. She was only parachuted onto the board in 2015.


But Racing NSW might not have to search for a new chairman if the legislation is passed to alter the Thoroughbred Racing Act 1996, paving the way for Balding, the former ABC managing director and chief executive of Sydney Airport Corporation, to retain the role if he desires.

Balding declined to comment on the legislation when contacted.

Harness Racing NSW directors will also be able to serve terms as long as 10 years under a similar change to the Harness Racing NSW Act 2009.

A spokesman for Anderson’s office said: “The proposal to extend the board terms for Racing NSW and Harness Racing NSW is consistent with the Public Service Commission Appointment Standards, which recommend maximum terms of 10 years.

“The amendment aligns the period of appointment provided for board members in similar legislation such as the Sydney Cricket Ground and Sports Ground Act 1978 and the Sydney Opera House Trust Act 1961.”

Racing NSW chairman Russell Balding will have served eight years on the regulator’s board next month.Credit:Jessica Hromas

Racing NSW’s board already contains some of Sydney’s heaviest hitters including Balding, Tabcorp’s former deputy chairman Hodgson, ex-Westfield general counsel Simon Tuxen, prominent businessman Tony Shepherd and former state MP George Souris.

“There is absolutely no compelling reason for Kevin Anderson to add an extra two years to how long a person, and therefore group of directors, can sit at Racing NSW,” NSW Trainers Association secretary Glenn Burge said.

“It is fundamental to proper corporate governance that there is fresh blood, fresh ideas regularly.
Otherwise, as all the academic research shows, there is a risk otherwise that directors risk being captured by management, and less likely to challenge a CEO.

“Looking at the RNSW board, without any disrespect, it is time to clean out the stables. Time to bring in some younger, digitally savvy and commercially experienced directors if racing is to be relevant for the 20-45 age group it desperately needs to win over to the wonderful sport.

“And how about a few women and more country representation? And why do ex-politicians get the rails run when there are people with much broader life experience?”

Racing NSW was already heavily invested in new legislation which threatens a person with six months imprisonment and hefty fines if they fail to appear in front of a racing tribunal, a push sparked by the controversial More Joyous affair.

The scope of the powers extends to punters, former licensees and other people not bound by the rules of racing as they risk jail time and fines up to $11,000 for refusing to attend special inquiries under Supreme Court orders.

Racing NSW earlier this week reported an operating surplus of $14.4 million for the last financial year.

Meanwhile, Racing Australia announced on Friday that Barry O’Farrell was stepping down as chief executive. O’Farrell, who is also chairman of NRL club Wests Tigers, is expected to be appointed Australia’s next high commissioner to India.

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