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Racing Industry Cruelty

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 31 October 2019

Tags: Horse Racing, Animal Welfare

Racing Industry Cruelty: Rosalie Woodruff, 31 October, 2019


Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Deputy Speaker, it gives me no pleasure to speak on this matter of public importance but, for any person reading the transcript or watching the telecast, I would strongly recommend that if they love an animal they look at the ABCs really disturbing report from two weeks ago. The 7.30 Report uncovered the darkest side of the racing industry in Australia. It pieces together the endemic cruelty on which that racing industry is fundamentally based.

Regardless of the individual caring practices of particular trainers, or individual stewards or people involved, the fact is the industry as a whole is there for one reason: it is there for profit. Fundamentally, profit drives every part of this industry. For me, as a person who owns two horses, what I found most shocking was an image of a beautiful, elite, athletic horse at the peak of its prime and beauty, sleek and being tended by a young stablehand, a person obviously showering love and affection on that horse as well as every supplement and every feed and bit of exercise they could possibly need. Then, just a short time afterwards, once that horse is finished with, it is in the back of truck jammed in with other horses being transported to an abattoir in Queensland in fear and distress.

The scenes of those horses being beaten as they get out, how it was described as a sea of horses flowing out of the back of the truck. They were being chased and beaten to get out, on top of each other, in incredible distress; some of them already had terrible injuries inflicted upon them. To stand there and listen to the sound of other horses dying with mares and foals together, it is unbelievable.

This is footage that is happening to cattle and sheep, and many other animals at abattoirs too. Let us not forget that the process of killing animals that we endorse in Australia is far from humane. That is another story. This is about an industry which is built on profit. The only way it survives is to dispense with the thousands and thousands of horses a year, which are wastage to an industry that does not want to spend another cent on them. What Caro Meldrum-Hanna uncovered was that 8500 horses a year are retired from the track. Only 1 per cent of them are supposedly meant to end up in an abattoir, but the numbers clearly do not stack up. This damning report shows that 4000 to 5000 horses a year are going secretly, in secret trucks to doggers, and from abattoirs, and then ending up in doggers.

That is the other part of this disgusting industry; the relationship between it and the greyhound industry. The racecourse industry literally feeds the greyhound industry. There is a literal feeding relationship with racehorses ending up at doggers and going to feed greyhounds. If all of this was done in an open way with animals that needed to be euthanised, then many people would feel differently about it. The fact is, this is hidden, secretive and cruel. We are meant to have bodies such as the Office of Racing Integrity Tasmania and Racing Australia overseeing these practices and flushing them out and they are failing. They are failing. Clearly they do not want to see because they would have to inalterably change their practices.

The minister's words sound reasonable when she says that ORI will be undertaking a review of the retirement process, a review of the national database statistics, and will be working for a national horse traceability register. What a load of hogwash. If you watch the ABC, a national traceability register has apparently been there for three years. It is totally failing. It is failing the 5000 horses that the ABC indicated in its documentary are being killed in abattoirs each year. They are not being traced.

Far from being traced, everything is being done to hide what is happening to those horses. There is no rehoming going on. There is no requirement in the national rules or the Tasmanian local rules to rehome a horse. There is a requirement to register the death, that is all. It is false; it is a total sham. This Government is not only failing to look, they are spending public money feeding this system. According to the report from the ABC, a massive breeding industry produced 14 000 foals last year. I do not know how many in Tasmania, but we are party to that. This Government is spending money breeding up an industry to get a horse to market. The market is to win the race, and once it is won, goodbye. A bolt in the head if it is lucky, but not before it has been beaten off the truck and in incredible distress. Who knows what else happens to it.

Time expired.

Ms O'CONNOR - Madam Deputy Speaker, I just want to make the point that usually during matter of public importance debates, there are other speakers. There is noone from the Government's side here who wanted to defend your position, minister.

Matter noted.