Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Leader
The interim report from the Murrihy investigation of harness racing in Tasmania highlights the failure of laws and regulations to protect the welfare of horses in the industry.
Animal advocates and the community have been calling for law reform to protect animals in the racing industry for many years, and cases of mistreatment have been repeatedly raised in the media. Despite the obvious issues, the Liberals have denied any need for change.
Writing about the importance of animal welfare, investigator Murrihy said:
‘Welfare’ includes factors such as a horse’s health and physical environment, through to its mental state and nutrition. Community expectations require these needs be met throughout the lifetime of a harness horse, and there can be no tolerance for any practice that causes suffering – whether it be by mistreatment or by neglect.
Mr Murrihy has highlighted the inadequacy of the laws and regulations governing animal welfare in the racing industry, and cited Tasmania as lagging the nation on reform. His report recognised the need for meaningful change to improve the lives of animals, including minimum standards for homing, transport, feeding, breeding, and retirement. This change must happen urgently.
This report clearly demonstrates numerous animal welfare issues in the racing industry, and supports the long-term calls for reform. It’s now up to Racing Minister Felix Ellis to act.
We cannot have a situation in Tasmania where an independent expert investigator identifies numerous systemic animal welfare issues, only for the government to drag its heels. Minister Ellis must make improvements to the Animal Welfare Act and racing regulations an immediate priority.