Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for RACING, Ms HOWLETT
The Office of Racing Integrity is in utter disarray. Those of us who care deeply about the welfare of animals in the racing industries are deeply concerned. As we know, about 20 Office of Racing Integrity staff have left since 2018 and the ABC reports many vacancies around the field. Morale is at an all time low.
The former Acting Racing Integrity and Stewards Manager, Tony Latham, is under investigation over an allegation he sought to have a fine against Tasmania Cup jockey, Reece Nicholson, dropped. Mr Latham's predecessor, John King, stepped aside while facing a professional standards investigation by Tasmania Police. The incoming ORI general manager and director of racing until a few weeks ago was a political advisor to ministers Jaensch and Petrusma. Meanwhile overnight we learn another racing greyhound has died, the seventh this year.
Minister, this utter shamble has happened on your watch. How can anyone within the industry or watching on in horror from the sidelines have any faith in the integrity of racing and upholding of animal welfare standards today? Please do not read out the same answer that you read out before.
Mr Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Greens for her question. The reason why we are having this inquiry into the act, as I said, the act is 2004, it is old. It does not even have an animal welfare component. That is one of the reasons why we are doing the review.
We understand that there are issues in the Office of Racing Integrity. I note that the CPSU and staff have raised concerns about the leadership and culture within ORI. Importantly, the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment where ORI sits has acknowledged these concerns and is committed to working with them to respond accordingly.
I am aware of the current vacancies within the Office of Racing Integrity. The secretary of DPIPWE has assured me that recruitment processes for some of these positions have commenced or have already been advertised. I am pleased that the new general manager of ORI has been recruited and will commence today. I have met with Mr Helmick in anticipation of his commencement in the role. He will be meeting with TasRacing, the industry and staff in his first week in the role. I will continue to have regular meetings and updates with the DPIPWE secretary and ensure ORI has the full support that it actually needs.
In relation to the death of the greyhound on Thursday night, I am pleased to say that we take animal welfare extremely seriously. In the year 2019 20 13 greyhounds were euthanised. In the year 2013 it was a lot more. This year we are actually down to three. Last year we had seven. We are doing our absolute best to improve animal welfare.
With the new track design on the north-west coast we have engaged Dr David Eager to help us design that track. It will be one of the safest tracks in Australia.
Ms O'Connor, animal welfare is paramount to the social licence of this industry.
Ms O'Connor - If ORI is dysfunctional you can't uphold that standard.
Ms HOWLETT - That is why we are doing a review.