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Racing - North West Track Upgrade

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 25 August 2022

Tags: Greyhound Racing, TasRacing

Ms O'CONNOR - (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, I rise tonight to respond to Ms Ogilvie's Dorothy Dix question about the North-West Track upgrade and particularly her statement that the new track would mean quote: harness and greyhound racing has a long future.

I remind the House that we have never seen a business case for this track upgrade. It will be publicly funded. The committee looking into cruelty and the greyhound racing industry recommended, at the very least, a straight track.

During her answer, Ms Ogilvy went on to sledge the Labor Opposition in a fairly pathetic attempt at an attack, I must say, over a record breaking E-petition which the Greens tabled on behalf of tireless greyhound welfare advocates. I had the absolute honour of tabling that petition, Mr Speaker, the largest ever parliamentary E-petition, which had more than 13 500 signatures. Those 13 500 petitioners recognised the inherent cruelty of greyhound racing. I am sure many of the signatories - in fact, I know it - are from Ms Ogilvy's and my electorate of Clark. The petition specifically noted that the welfare of these sensitive, sweet dogs is a matter for everyone. I quote:

Opposition to the cruelty in the greyhound racing industry cuts across politics and that greyhounds are rescued and rehomed by Tasmanians of all political affiliation.

This is a fact that Ms Ogilvie needs to acknowledge, especially as one of the branches of her own, new, current party, raised the matter at the Liberal State Council. There is a huge well of love and care for these beautiful dogs among the extended Liberal Party family. I know plenty of greyhound lovers who are self-confessed Liberal voters.

At the Liberal State Council on the weekend, the Launceston business branch put forward a motion to end the funding of greyhound racing by taxpayers. But regrettably, even for her own party members, the racing minister's response to the petition was as outdated as the industry itself is. We have been reassured by the minister that animal welfare is a high priority for the Government. Lip service. We hear this all the time. 'The greyhound and the racing industry are investing more money than ever before into animal welfare'. Well, here is a minister speaking more for the industry than she is for the animals.

The industry has gone on a PR blitz since the petition was tabled. They know their social licence is frayed and worn, and their days are numbered. And this is why:- 6593 greyhounds have been seriously injured on Australian tracks in 2022, and 107 greyhounds have died at tracks across Australia this year. Eleven of those were in Tasmania, and here is the list of dogs: - Bashful, Blondie, Estonia Chrystal, Yarramundi Hoover, Just Mates, Winky Hugo, Husky Shiraz, Chifron Blazer, Fly Calypso (a tragic story at the north-west track), Dark Titan and Masani Bale.

Of those 11 tragic premature deaths, only four of them were listed in stewards' reports - the only public record. The others came to light because of questions the Greens put on notice at Estimates. Those questions were provided to us by dedicated greyhound welfare advocates who trawled through the data and recorded the dogs who suffered serious injuries and are never seen again. Those dogs are not recorded by Government as track deaths because they are killed off site. They are proof more dogs are dying than are reported by Government and industry. And that is not even to mention the injuries, many of which mean the dogs are killed later or stop racing and if they are lucky, they find a new home.

A beautiful interstate example of this is Blue the Grey from New South Wales who arrived in his new owner's life after breaking his leg at race trial, much like the late Tar Bernard. Unlike Tar Bernard, Blue the Grey had a second chance and became a social media star highlighting the cruelty of this industry. Blue died earlier this year of cancer, but his human would not let him be forgotten. Blue's mum, Kimberly, uses his social media profile and she has raised more than $125 000 for greyhound adoption services, animal welfare charities and to groups who are lobbying to shut this terrible industry down.

That massive fundraising effort is an example of the momentum growing, to end greyhound racing as the industry continues to lose its social licence.

Mr Speaker, I know there are some terrific owners and trainers out there who love their dogs and treat them very well. Then there are trainers like Anthony Bullock. Greyhound racing has callousness and greed and a lack of empathy at its core. A growing number of Tasmanians want no part in paying for it, at least 13 500 who signed that e petition. This industry that breeds dogs to die or to be cast aside when they do not run fast enough, or cost too much to feed, is running out time.

Ms Ogilvie, her Liberal colleagues, and Ms Ogilvie's former Labor colleagues, are on the wrong side of history. We will not let Liberal or Labor parties off the hook when it comes to the welfare of animals. Never, ever.

So to the thousands of Tasmanians who put their name to the record breaking petition, that has been dismissed by Government and this minister, I promise you the Greens will not give up. We will always be a voice in the parliament for these sensitive, gentle dogs, who fall victim to, and are bred for, this dreadful industry.