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State Greyhound Inquiry Concerns

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Sunday, 22 February 2015

Tags: Greyhound Racing, Live Baiting

The Tasmanian Greens will move to establish a joint House Inquiry into the greyhound racing industry when Parliament resumes in March.

Greens' Animal Welfare spokesperson, Cassy O'Connor MP, said a Parliamentary Inquiry involving both Houses of Parliament is the only way to ensure persistent allegations of cruelty in the industry can be investigated independently, and whistleblowers provided with a level of protection.

"Since ABC Four Corners revealed that the practice of live baiting is rife in at least three mainland states, Members of Parliament have been flooded with emails from concerned Tasmanians demanding action,” Ms O’Connor said.

"If live baiting is so prevalent in the industry interstate, it is almost certainly happening here. We need to put this industry under the spotlight of a Parliamentary Inquiry, where witnesses can be called and confidential, in-camera evidence heard where necessary.”

 "Racing Minister, Jeremy Rockliff, has established a low-key, effectively in-house 'review' of animal welfare standards in the industry. It's neither a thorough nor independent process and it won't get to the truth of the matter.”

"Unfortunately, Mr Rockliff is conflicted in his role.  He has Ministerial responsibility for looking after the greyhound racing industry, but he also administers the Animal Welfare Act 1993.”

"As Minister, he has put forward amendments to the Act which are manifestly inadequate.  His amendment Bill has failed to follow the advice of his own Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AWAC)  to give greater powers to inspectors to search properties to rescue animals or gather evidence.”

"When the Bill is debated we will be moving to significantly strengthen its provisions, in line with AWAC's advice.”

"In recent days I have heard alarming stories alleging live baiting is happening in Tasmania's largely unregulated greyhound racing industry.  Those allegations need to be formally tested through the mechanism of a Parliamentary Inquiry.”

"It is also well known that each year greyhounds that are poor performers or past their racing use-by date are destroyed and that puppies which are surplus to requirements to breeders and owners are killed.”

"Estimates vary between 10 000 and 20 000 greyhounds across the country die this way as a result of industry practices.  It is happening in Tasmania.”

"This practice is known as 'wastage'.  It is unspeakably cruel and wasteful.  Imagine, what an uproar there would be if, for example, 20 000 Labradors were slaughtered in this way across Australia each year.”

"It is time to put the industry in Tasmania under the spotlight. If it's players are abiding by the law, they will have nothing to fear," Ms O'Connor said.