Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for RACING, Ms HOWLETT
The tide is turning. Every year more people are understanding the systemic cruelty inflicted on animals as part of the horse and greyhound racing industries. Seeing seven horses die in the last eight Melbourne Cups has put the tragic and brutal side of the industry in the spotlight. These animals deserve much better than being fed into an industry that treats them as disposable once they are no longer turning a profit and sends them to the abattoir. While the industry enjoys government support, we need to find ways to protect animals from cruelty wherever possible. Under current laws, beating an animal with a whip is a clear-cut case of animal cruelty, unless it happens on a horseracing track. The awful thing is whipping an animal on the track may actually be even more cruel. Exhausted horses are pushed past breaking point in the race to the finish, putting them at even greater risk of serious injury and death.
Will you today commit to improving the lives of Tasmanian racehorses and potentially sparing them from a cruel, premature death? Will you introduce a ban on the use of whips in the horseracing industry?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question and her interest in this matter. The Government recognises the importance of ensuring that animal welfare measures in racing meets with community expectations. We also recognise the extraordinary care the vast majority of industry participants provide to their animals. The Government is investing more money than ever before into animal welfare and I am proud of that.
Tasracing's board sets the national thoroughbred rules and has detailed provisions to regulate the use of the whip in races. Riders are subject to penalties if they breach the rules. Initial reforms began in 2009, with ongoing changes being implemented since then.
Racing Victoria announced it has put forward a proposal to Racing Australia to undertake further action on the use of whips in racing. TasRacing looks forward to working with Racing Australia through the Riding Protocols Advisory Panel to discuss and debate any rule change. It is important that consultation occurs with industry participants, particularly jockeys and trainers, before any major rules are implemented.