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Racing - Swabs

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 9 September 2021

Tags: TasRacing, State Budget

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Ms Wilson. On that, if you go to Budget paper, page 297, table 10.7, the actual number of swabs taken in 2018 19 was 4226. Yet the target for swabs taken by stewards is 3500 in 2021 22.

What's the explanation for what is arguably a less stringent drug detection process projected by government, particularly given that a little lower down in the table the number of persons licensed or registered is expected to increase from 1295 to 1400 in 2021 22? So, you've got more people in the industry, potentially more animals in the industry, and yet somewhere in the vicinity of 800 fewer swabs projected to be taken.

Ms HOWLETT - We can look at reviewing that target for next year.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you but I think it's important that the committee understands why, first of all, between 2018 19 and 2019 20 the number of swabs fell from 4226 to 3070 and now, when you're looking ahead, the department's aim for 2021 22 is 3500. There must be a reasoning behind that.

Ms HOWLETT - As you are aware, the Office of Racing Integrity and ORI's stewards conduct testing at race meetings, trials, and non-race day locations, taking both animal and human samples. There are a number of types of prohibited substances listed on the national rules and in recent times the use of Colbate and arsenic have been evident.

Tasmanian samples are tested by a racing analytical service in Victoria and is continually undertaking research development on this detection of drugs. It is one of only four worldwide reference laboratories used by the International Federation of Horse Racing as their results are both highly reliable and credible. For the period of 1 July 2020 and 30 June 2021, 4249 racing animals and humans participating across the three codes were tested for prohibited substances, there were 13 positive swabs.

Ms O'CONNOR - With the Chair's indulgence, could I pull you up here, so that we can potentially move on from this question? Are you happy for me to put on notice a question about why the projected swabs will be substantially fewer than the actual swabs from 2018 19.

Ms WILSON - The target is a reflection of what has been in previous budgets. What I can undertake to do is ensure that we review our targets for the future budgets. As you can see from 2018 19 actuals and 2020 21 actuals, we do aim to target more testing than the target. The target is a residual that is carried forward and it is time to review that. I would note that in 2019 20 for the actuals, my recollection and understanding would be that it was probably slightly slower because of the pause from COVID-19 to racing.