A leading sports integrity expert has been appointed to oversee the implementation of reforms within South Australia’s greyhound industry, following revelations of animal abuse.

Sal Perna, who was Victoria’s racing integrity commissioner for more than 10 years and led a 2015 inquiry into live baiting in greyhound racing there, will start his new role in coming months.

The former police officer is a member of the National Sports Tribunal and the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Independent Ethics Board.

His appointment in SA follows reports by the ABC into dogs being abused, which resulted in trainers being suspended.

The revelations also triggered an independent inquiry into the state’s greyhound industry, headed by former Victorian police commissioner Graham Ashton, who handed down 57 recommendations in December.

A man leans on a glass window.

Sal Perna has been appointed to the role of greyhound industry reform inspector.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

One of those was the appointment of an independent inspector for greyhound racing reform.

Mr Perna’s role will involve oversight of Greyhound Racing SA’s response to the recommendations to improve standards in the industry.

“Our racing industries need to operate with integrity, and there is always room for improvement,” he said in a statement.

“Without integrity, the industry’s reputation is damaged, people won’t bet, and stakeholders lose confidence.

“It also goes without saying that the welfare of greyhounds must be a priority, not just their racing ability.”

Close up shot of a black greyhound

Recommendations of the inquiry include greyhound welfare and integrity reforms.(Unsplash: Derek Story)

The opposition and the Greens have previously been critical of the length of time taken by the government to fill the new role.

Last month, Greens MP Tammy Franks said the government had missed the deadline to make an appointment before Easter.

“The most crucial part of the Malinauskas government ensuring that this industry does clean up its act, that this industry does not continue to harm animals, that this industry does have integrity … is to appoint the recommended independent inspector,” Ms Franks said.

“They have failed at the first hurdle.”

A woman stands and smiles.

Racing Minister Katrine Hildyard said Mr Perna would oversee “significant animal welfare, integrity and administrative” reforms.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

Asked about the time it had taken to fill the role, SA Racing Minister Katrine Hildyard said that the government had advised that the appointment would be made “in the first third of this year”,  and that “we offered that position in that time frame”.

She said Mr Perna would help implement “significant animal welfare, integrity and administrative reforms” as the industry evolved “in line with societal expectations”.

“The implementation of [those] will be carefully overseen by Mr Perna, with Greyhound Racing South Australia clearly expected to deliver the changes,” she said.

“A person of this calibre, with this background [in] integrity, is absolutely an indication of how seriously we are taking the need for this reform.”

The SA government said it was considering legislation to support Mr Perna’s powers.

Mr Perna will regularly report to Minister Hildyard and submit a final report in two years about whether the industry should continue.

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