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Howlett Fails to Explain Cruel Whip Policy

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Tags: Horse Racing, Animal Welfare

Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader

The fact a Tasmanian harness racer has been targeted by racing stewards and fined for refusing to carry a whip during competition reveals the hollowness of the Gutwein Government’s claim of caring about animal welfare.

When the Greens asked Racing Minister, Jane Howlett, why harness racer, Gavin Kelly, was directed by racing stewards to carry a whip while competing, and then fined for not doing so, the Minister struggled to answer.

Minister Howlett’s response, that the government takes animal welfare seriously, and Mr Kelly was directed to carry a whip for safety reasons, left a lot to be desired.  The Minister did not explain why stewards would target Mr Kelly in this way when it is not a rule of racing that a whip be carried.

The Racing Minister also claimed animal welfare concerns about whip use were being mitigated by a driver direction to use a particular whipping motion. How out of touch is she? Those horses are still being beaten.

Whipping leads to exhausted horses being pushed past breaking point. It puts them at even greater risk of serious injury and death. It’s no wonder there’s growing public concern about this outdated, unnecessary, and cruel practice.

Mr Kelly made the ethical choice not whip his horses on the track and is being punished for it. Why is the Racing Minister not stepping in?

If the Gutwein Government actually cared about the welfare of animals, they would ban the use of whips – as the Greens have called for. Instead, drivers are being fined if they make an ethical choice not to carry one. It’s shameful.