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Race Horse Death at Brighton Training Grounds

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Friday, 14 June 2019

Tags: Office of Racing Integrity, Horse Racing, Animal Welfare

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Speaker, I am off and racing because I want to speak briefly about the mystery of the horse death at the Brighton training grounds on Friday, 31 May. I raise this again because I raised it with the minister in Estimates last Thursday night and it was clear that the Office of Racing Integrity had begun an investigation the previous day into information it had received about the death of a horse at the Brighton training grounds on Friday night, 31 May.

I raised it again today in response to the minister's Estimates contribution and asked the question, 'Where is the horse's body?'. The minister got up in response and said it had been confirmed by the Office of Racing Integrity that the horse had been buried. We need to know where the evidence is. It is not enough for the minister to simply say it has been confirmed by the Racing Integrity body that the horse has been buried. We have had no meaningful update to the House about the investigation. If the Office of Racing Integrity has confirmed it has been buried, presumably it has a carcass. If it has the carcass, it should be able to do an autopsy. We should be able to understand what the cause of death of the horse was.

Mr Jaensch - Could it have been eaten by something else?

Ms O'CONNOR - You raise the interesting question, minister. It would appear that massive equine has evaporated and all we have is an assurance from the Office of Racing Integrity, which began its investigation the day before Estimates, that it has confirmed the horse was buried.

We need to see the evidence that they have confirmed the horse was buried because our information is that the horse's carcass has not been located. That is information from inside the racing industry.

There are legitimate questions to be answered about the welfare of the horse, what happened to that horse and why it died, but the apparent unwillingness to provide information in the public interest. Unless that information is provided to the House it will smell strongly of a cover-up and we do not want to have that in relation to our racing integrity body. We need to understand how that horse died. We need to understand what the person who was charged with the responsibility of that horse, the trainer, did with that horse's carcass, the body of the horse after it died. At the moment there is no clarity whatsoever. Until the minister produces the evidence of the Office of the Racing Integrity finding that horse's body, we will continue to ask questions.

This is a matter of animal welfare. We do not know how that horse died. We do not know how it was treated. What was alleged to us is that the trainer of that horse was so slack about paying their vets bills the local vets did not want to have anything to do with the trainer of that horse. If you have a person who is not paying their vets bills, are they going to pay for an excavator to bury a horse's body? That is a relevant question. We need to hear from the minister, where is the evidence that the Office of Racing Integrity has conducted a thorough investigation? Has the Office of Racing Integrity interviewed the trainer of that horse and been taken to the location of the alleged burial? There is no evidence to point to that at all. Given that the results of the investigation into the death of 13 beautiful polo ponies on the Spirit in January 2018 is still not known and there has been no transparency about what happened to those horses, it is not unreasonable to be sceptical about this Government's response to animal welfare concerns.

I call on the Minister for Racing to produce evidence in this House that the Office of Racing Integrity has undertaken a thorough investigation, that they have located the body of the dead horse and they have conducted an autopsy to determine how that horse died. I feel around me a level of amusement that I am again talking about the Brighton horse death mystery and asking the question about whether it has been fed to the lions. Unless we in this place ask these questions, no-one will speak for the animals who are part of this industry. If there is a persistent welfare issue in the racing industry, this House should know about it and should be given the opportunity to deal with it.