Andrea Dawkins MP | Greens Racing and Animal Welfare spokesperson
In GBE Estimates today, Tas Racing CEO, Doctor Eliot Forbes, seemed to struggle to accept the reality of animal welfare issues facing the racing industry. Minister Rockliff now has a job to do and show leadership with his GBE and its CEO.
Mr Forbes referred to public concerns expressed about what happens to horses after their racing career as “propaganda material”. All this in the wake of an introduction boasting that TasRacing meets or exceeds community expectations regarding animal welfare.
Mr Forbes claimed that the Review of Arrangements for Animal Welfare in the Tasmanian Greyhound Racing Industry found there was no evidence of live baiting. This is untrue.
The fact is the report found there was “no evidence that could lead to prosecution”. The qualifier “that could lead to prosecution” seriously implies there has, in fact, been some evidence.
The report emphasises, in bold, that “this finding does not exclude the possibility that live baiting could be happening in Tasmania”.
The primary evidence used by the report to suggest that “live baiting, if it is occurring, is at a very low level” is the absence of private, trial tracks or facilities. After a recent audit by the Office of Racing Integrity we now know that 31 bullrings and 28 private trial tracks exist in the State.
The Parliamentary Inquiry into Greyhound Racing in Tasmania also received evidence from the RSPCA that despite the lack of prosecutable evidence, inspectors have seen evidence that suggested to them live baiting was occurring.
Inquiry contributions from Racing Services Tasmania’s Director of Racing, Tony Murray, and the Chief Veterinary Officer, Rod Andrewartha were telling. It was made clear that evidence which could lead to prosecution could likely only be obtained through illegal surveillance, such as the evidence used in the Four Corner’s report. As such surveillance has not occurred it is all but inevitable that there has been no evidence that could lead to prosecution.
TasRacing is sweeping all of this evidence under the rug while claiming that they meet or exceed community expectations towards animal welfare out of one corner of their mouth, and labelling concerns over animal welfare as propaganda out of the other.
Given the Minister's support for Parliamentary Inquiry, he should pull Mr Forbes into line.