Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens Leader and Animal Welfare spokesperson
Seven horses have died in the last eight Melbourne Cups. Every year, more people are coming to understand the systemic cruelty inflicted on animals as part of the horse and greyhound racing industries.
When questioned today in Parliament, Racing Minister Jane Howlett refused to agree that a ban on whips in horse racing is both necessary, and in line with growing public concern about the industry’s cruelty.
These animals deserve much better than being fed into an industry that treats them as disposable once they're no longer turning a profit. While it allows this industry to roll on, government should be finding ways to protect animals from cruelty wherever possible.
Under current laws, beating an animal with a whip is a clear-cut case of animal cruelty – unless it happens on a horse racing track. By refusing to introduce a ban on the use of whips in the horse racing industry, the Liberals are failing to commit to improving the lives of Tasmanian race horses.
The awful thing is, whipping an animal on the track may actually be even more cruel. Exhausted horses are pushed past breaking point in the race to the finish, putting them at even greater risk of serious injury and death.
The idea that whip use is critical to thoroughbred racing integrity is entrenched in tradition but lacks empirical support.
The tide is turning – there are now heightened public expectations around animal welfare and that should be reflected in law. The Liberals need to realise that.
The use of the whip in horse racing is an outdated and unnecessary form of animal cruelty and should be banned in Tasmania. Minister Howlett needs to align racing with reasonable social expectations of animal welfare.