The revelations around Labor Party figures in NSW are putrid. There’s a whiff of wrongdoing in Campbell Newman’s Queensland government. The Commonwealth is launching a royal commission into the abuse and cover-up of heinous assaults on children.
And then there’s the racing industry, where the stench of corruption is growing. Celebrated jockey Damien Oliver was finally ripped from the saddle this morning after being charged with allegedly placing a bet on a rival horse in 2010. Oliver is said to have put $10,000 on Miss Octopussy via a third party in a race it won at Moonee Valley. Oliver, who has also been charged with illegally using his mobile phone in the jockeys’ room prior to the race, rode Europa Point to sixth place.
The Age first reported the case some four weeks ago. Oliver offered a “no comment” and kept his Melbourne Cup carnival rides, including a $45,000 pay day for Victoria Derby winner Fiveandahalfstar. On Cup day, the paper reported Oliver had admitted placing the bet. He took his mounts that day, too, and went on to win another feature race on Saturday.
“Why is he still in the saddle?” The Age asked on its front page last Tuesday. Because stewards — who had the nerve to criticise the media for tarnishing the Cup — didn’t have the power to stand him down. Yet the state government says it doesn’t need to act and describes the turmoil as an “over-reaction”. Few racing identities — a cosy club of rich and powerful players — have dared take a stand.
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This stinks. Racing contributes a staggering amount of money to the national economy — some $1.2 billion in government tax revenue alone. Somebody needs to start following some of that money.