You are here

Estimate Reply – Ogilvie

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 22 June 2023

Tags: Greyhound Racing, TasRacing, State Budget

Ms O'CONNOR - Chair, tragically, the Racing portfolio is where beautiful sentient animals go to die. It does not matter what colour the minister, red or blue, this industry is cruel at its core because it relies on the exploitation of sentient animals in order for industry participants to run a profit. Too often, and we only find this out in either Estimates or at GBEs, these beautiful animals have very shortened lives.

Only this week, on 19 June in Launceston, Tah Tracey, another beautiful greyhound died. She suffered multiple fractures in her right leg when she collided with another dog on entering the catching pen. She was killed by the on track vet. Tah Tracey, who like so many of the greyhounds in this industry, was trained by Anthony Bullock, was killed at the age of three. She had raced in 87 races and secured nearly $41 000 in prize money, then has an injury on the track and is simply disposed of.

The budget papers show that the racing codes in this state receive more than $30 million a year in public subsidy so this cruelty at the heart of the industry is publicly subsidised, state-sanctioned cruelty. It is animal abuse and, in some circumstances, it is animal neglect. Many of these dogs in the greyhound racing industry have miserable shortened lives, very little opportunity for socialisation.

I hope the minister has been to GAP since Estimates. One of the things that strikes you when you go along to the Greyhound Adoption Program is how desperate these dogs are for love and how much they want a home, like every dog does. Every dog wants to be part of a pack and you cannot go along to GAP and not be made acutely aware of what a disgusting industry this is.

As we know, there are changes happening at GAP. The current manager is now on stress leave. There has been an edict from the new chief vet that is likely to see more dogs being killed before their time. There are two dogs, which I am sure Ms Johnston will raise shortly, who are now on death row. Knuckles and Expresso, two beautiful dogs which allegedly have behavioural problems, but how would we know? If a dog has been born into the industry and put in a racing pen that is about 1 metre by 1 metre in dimension, has no socialisation, is basically there to race and earn money and then is discarded, I have heard of some dogs chucked off the back of the ute at GAP, yes, maybe that dog will have some behavioural problems at first. But nothing that a good program of rehoming and rehabilitation would not be able to deal with.

One of the important elements of Estimates in the Racing portfolio for the Greens is to try to understand what happens to these animals. We asked a series of questions about greyhounds that had been chewed up and spat out by the industry. We have a list here and the answers to the questions on notice. I have some questions for the minister if she has an opportunity to consider them. In this list of Tasmanian greyhound injuries for 2023, there is a dog called Tommy Rico who was injured on 26 January this year, fractured toe, left hind leg, has not raced since. Where is that dog, what has happened to that dog?

A dog with the charming name of Assassinate had an injury, a torn tensor fascia on the right hind leg. Has not raced since. Where is that dog?

We would love to understand about a beautiful dog called Jack Twist, who, on 20 April this year suffered an injury. A post-race veterinary examination found a suspected dislocation of the right hock. Jack Twist was stood down from racing for 30 days. On the information provided back through the answers to the questions on notice, deceased, euthanased due to injury in Victoria. Does that mean this dog was injured on a track here and, for some reason, taken back to Victoria to be killed?

It is very clear from the data that we have been provided that these dogs are suffering injuries that could be repaired. They could go to the vet and have the right hock injury repaired. The reason they are euthanased is because they will not be able to race again and in this industry these dogs are expendable.

There are some answers here about the ages of the racing greyhounds when they were classified as having died of old age. As the answers to the questions on notice make clear, there is no old age classification, but there is a deceased illness, age; deceased natural causes; and euthanased due to illness and age classifications. It is very clear that some greyhounds live long. There is a greyhound on this list, they are all de identified, that lived to be 19 years of age: died of natural causes. Another one lived to be 17 years of age: died of - it just says illness - age 17, getting on. There is another little dog here, deceased of natural causes at the age of one year. What kills a greyhound at the age of one year? Poor little dog. W - de identified in this table - euthanased due to illness at age of nine months.

Mr Winter - Age is a bit of weird thing to -

Ms O'CONNOR - Yes, I know. If the minister could explain: euthanased due to illness and age was the category at the age of nine months. You might not have this information straight to hand.

Ms Ogilvie - I do not but I am happy to chase it if you want me to. Do you want to email me?

Ms O'CONNOR - Yes, thanks. I am sure, minister, you understand how many people in the community feel really passionately about these gorgeous dogs. I want to acknowledge the advocates for the greyhound in our community and note with thanks that a lot of the hard work in identifying and tracking these dogs is done by members of the community for no other reason than that they love the dogs.

Yes, these Estimates are a very important opportunity for us to understand what happens to these animals. Obviously, the Greens want to see an end to greyhound racing and we have no love for or support of the horseracing industries either because, as we see from the answers to our questions on notice, there is a whole stack of horses here that have very shortened lives as well. On page 4 of the answers to the questions on notice, there is a total of 31 horses that were euthanased in the financial year to date to 5 June, 14 of them with paddock injuries. I wonder if they were in Ben Yole's paddocks. Thoroughbred horses that were euthanased - 24 in the financial year to date.

The Greens do not believe these industries are retaining a social licence. However, if you are going to have an industry, you need to have whole-of-life tracking for these animals from when they are born to when they die. You need to have an industry that understands it cannot just breed dogs to race and profit from and dispose of. The same goes for thoroughbreds and harness racers.

We need to have some changes to the rules of racing, particularly for greyhounds, because when you have a look at some of the pictures that we have seen of Anthony Bullock's non compliant-with-the-rules-of-racing kennels. Those dogs are imprisoned for most of the day. I am sure they are allowed out occasionally to eat Ben Yole's discarded horses but their lives are confined misery. Let us have some changes to the rules of racing so at least while this industry staggers along at public expense they have some sort of comfort in their lives.