WADE BIRCH, the highly-paid ‘pin-up’ boy of sacked RQ All Codes Board Chairman, Kevin Dixon, has also been given the boot.
Brad Davidson, Queensland’s leading racing writer, reports in The Courier-Mail, that Birch blames his demise on the greyhound live baiting scandal.But the industry rumor mill is in over-drive with suggestions that was not the sole reason Birch was given his marching orders.
To clear the air – unless we are going to hear more about it later on – Racing Minister Bill Byrne or the new powers-that-be at Racing Queensland should provide the reasons
It is in the best interests of Birch as well as he faces the prospect of finding another stewarding job in Australia or overseas with a cloud hanging over his head. He did not return calls from The Courier-Mail yesterday after his dismissal was confirmed.
Birch, who was regarded so highly by former RQ boss Dixon that he was elevated from Chairman of Stewards to the dual roles of General Manager of Stewards and Integrity Operations, enjoyed what many believed was a ‘make your own rules job for an absurd amount of money’.
Even when recently dismissed RQ CEO Darren Condon was, in the opinion of many, being ‘thrown under the bus’ in the wake of the greyhound scandal the previous hierarchy allowed Birch to return to work apparently on his own terms.
That included spending only a couple of days each week at the Deagon Bunker because allegedly ‘he could not work with Condon’ and the rest of the time at his home base at the Sunshine Coast. After being stood down for several weeks he had no sooner returned to work when he took holidays in the midst of the busiest time of the year – the Winter Carnival.
Insiders claim Condon questioned the closeness of Birch to Dixon and warned him it wasn’t a good look to be seen locked in talks behind closed doors with the Chairman on too many occasions and had the rumor mill in overdrive. Condon came off second best in that dust-up but at the end of the day has now been joined on the sidelines by Birch which many say is a fair result in the circumstances.
For too long there has been too much innuendo behind the scenes concerning the policing of racing in Queensland. If even a small percentage of the rumors – and that’s all they are – happen to have some substance it is not a good look for an industry already struggling for recognition in the eyes of the punting public.
What needs to happen now is for Chief Steward Allan Reardon to make his ‘temporary retirement’ back at RQ a permanent one and for the appointment of a new Integrity Unit to be fast-tracked and some real stewarding action to be seen free of any perceived interference or level playing field allegations with ‘racing policeman’ a la the squad in Victoria lured to Queensland to ‘clean the joint up’.