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Racing Industry - Integrity

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 11 May 2023

Tags: Horse Racing, Office of Racing Integrity, TasRacing, Integrity


Right to-information documents received by the Greens last night, despite your department's attempt to delay their release until after this sitting, revealed 19 complaints have been made to the Office of Racing Integrity about harness racer, Ben Yole. The first of them, about race fixing no less, was received seven years ago in 2016. Seventeen of the complaints were lodged with ORI before the ABC did the Government's job of investigating Ben Yole and exposed his cruelty-dependent racing operation. Minister, 15 of the 19 complaints to ORI were received in your time as Minister for Racing.

Given this long list of complaints about Ben Yole, will you now confess and acknowledge your role in ignoring or papering over animal abuse, team driving and potential corruption in the state's racing industry?



Mr Speaker, our Government is the strongest supporter of the racing industry. We are concerned to ensure that we have the best regulatory settings and structures in place so that we can have confidence in our sector. I am not surprised that the Greens would continue to wage their war against the racing industry but what does surprise me is that Labor is in cahoots with them -

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker, could you please ask the minister to withdraw that. It is a patently false statement. We are not waging a war on the racing industry.

Mr SPEAKER - It is not a point of order. I will allow the minister to continue. Everyone is allowed their view in this House.

Ms OGILVIE - I am happy to withdraw those words and use alternative words. As I was saying, in cahoots with Labor. The Tasmanian Liberal government continues to be a strong supporter and an advocate for our racing industry, which is important to many Tasmanians, particularly in rural and regional areas. It is an industry that employs hundreds of people, good people, hard-working people, people who love their sport and love their animals. These people are up before dawn. They put their hearts and souls into their industry -

Ms O'CONNOR - Mr Speaker, point of order, Standing Order 45, relevance. This is rubbish. It is not answering the question. Could you please bring the minister's attention to the question?

Mr SPEAKER - Order. You can raise a point of order but you cannot stand and make an argument to the question. The minister has been asked a question. She is allowed the appropriate time to answer it. I will allow her to continue, again, in silence.

Ms OGILVIE - As I was saying, these people are up before dawn. They put their hearts and souls into their passion, their jobs and their livelihoods. I understand that those opposite are mounting a relentless attack on the industry for their own political purposes. We will always stand up for the racing industry. As for the Greens, we know they want to shut down all racing, so there is your landscape.

Under this Government, we are obviously continuing to strengthen the safeguards needed to root out and deal with a tiny minority who do the wrong thing. We continue to build this industry and support the men and women who have built family businesses around the sport that they love. I believe some of them have spoken to you, Mr Winter. Under this Government, we will ensure animal welfare is protected and enhanced.

As to the detail of the question, at an overarching level it is important to remember that complaints and allegations are allegations and just that. It is important that the regulatory authorities have the opportunity to process those complaints and allegations through appropriate investigations. I am advised that Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania [NRE] provided a response to an RTI application on 10 May. The released information was published on the NRE Tasmania disclosure log.

In relation to the complaints specifically, it is a matter of public record that Mr Murrihy investigated that 2016 complaint and made findings. I am advised that, in many cases, the allegations listed have been dealt with. I am also advised that the disclosure does not include information in relation to how those complaints were addressed. That goes to your RTI question.

In relation to specifics, I am advised that Mr Yole's stables, like any other trainer, are inspected regularly by ORI. Mr Yole's property is inspected by stewards on average once per fortnight. I am advised that all inspections and audits of the trainer have found that the trainer is compliant with the rules of racing. RSPCA Tasmania has also undertaken inspections and determined that the conditions do not breach the Animal Welfare Act. ORI will continue to conduct regular inspections of Mr Yole's property and horses and, where necessary and relevant, share findings.

In my time as minister, which has been nigh on a year, there has been significant progress towards addressing the challenges that have been raised in the racing industry. I announced the independent racing review to be conducted by Mr Murrihy. I have also progressed the review of the entire Racing Regulation Act, which covers all three codes, and publicly released the Monteith report and the Government's detailed response to the recommendations. It is well known that we are drafting legislation which we aim to table this year. We are getting on with the job.