Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for RACING, Ms ARCHER
It is clear that not all ex-Tasmanian racing and pacing horses end up buried at Zoodoo, as did the unfortunate harness racer A Loan Again. In a truly shocking expose, the ABC's 7.30 Report has confirmed thoroughbred racing and pacing horses from Tasmania are being transported to die at slaughter houses interstate.
Please inform the House how it could be that Tasmanian-born thoroughbreds are winding up at an abattoir in Caboolture, Queensland?
What action have you taken, as responsible minister, since the ABC investigation went to air to stop this grotesque cruelty and waste of animal life?
Can you detail to the House what happens to thoroughbred racing and trotting horses in Tasmania once they no longer turn a profit for their owners?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. I do not accept the first comment that she made in relation to Zoodoo. She knows full well that that has been fully investigated.
Ms O'Connor - Yes, and it was buried at Zoodoo.
Ms ARCHER - Yes. There have been various allegations that the Greens have made under the protection of parliamentary privilege in relation to that business and besmirching that business. She has never once apologised for doing so. That is unfortunate in itself.
To get to the issue that Ms O'Connor then referred to, the welfare of animals within the racing industry and across Tasmania generally, of course, and indeed post-retirement from the racing industry is a priority for the Hodgman Liberal Government.
Following the airing of disturbing footage on the ABC in Queensland abattoirs there has been understandable -
Ms O'Connor - And New South Wales.
Ms ARCHER - I would like to address this because it is a very serious issue.
Madam SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, please allow the Attorney-General to continue her contribution.
Ms ARCHER - I think members in this House and indeed the racing industry here, can I stress, are equally disturbed by what occurred in that Queensland abattoir as well because they realise that it besmirches their industry as well. There has been understandable concern from the community and the racing industry.
Accordingly, since allegations were broadcast of the slaughter of retired thoroughbred horses interstate, our Office of Racing Integrity in Tasmania has undertaken to: review the retirement processes of thoroughbred and standard-bred horses and the responsibility of owners; review national database statistics; work with other interstate regulatory bodies on a national horse traceability register; and national and local rule changes regarding the humane euthanasia of horses.
Importantly, I am informed that neither the Office of Racing Integrity nor Tasracing have received information or evidence from other parties that the mass slaughter of thoroughbred horses is an issue in Tasmania. Despite some reference to Tasmanian horses being killed in an abattoir elsewhere, the Office of Racing Integrity and Tasracing have not yet been able to investigate the claims as the ABC has not released information to Racing Australia.
Following the airing of the allegations, the Queensland Government announced an investigation into the abattoirs involved. The Office of Racing Integrity and Tasracing will consider any findings of the Queensland investigation and inquiry and will provide advice to me of applicability to the Tasmanian horse-racing industry.
I stress that if anyone, that is, the members in the House or indeed all Tasmanians, has any concerns in relation to animal welfare within the industry they should contact the Office of Racing Integrity, the RSPCA, or the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment to enable those concerns to be properly investigated.
It is important also that I mention our Off the Track Tasmania program. In this state there is traceability of racehorses from birth to retirement. It is a requirement of the racing industry.
Ms O'Connor - Retirement. And then what?
Ms ARCHER - I have just informed the House of that a review will take place in relation to it. I am now turning the importance of our off-the-track program. The House is entitled to know the details.
Ms O'Connor - Will it address what happens to racehorses after they are retired?
Madam SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor.
Ms ARCHER - The national traceability rule was introduced by Racing Australia three years ago with which local owners were required to comply. This allows the Office of Racing Integrity to have the ability to track the registered horse's movements throughout its career until the owner retires and deregisters the horse.
Each year, many millions of dollars are invested across the industry to ensure the welfare of animals is protected. Tasracing and the industry operates the Off the Track program, which is funded through contributions of prize money and additional money from Tasracing. The program is designed to promote the welfare of retired racehorses by encouraging those involved in horse sports to consider a retired racehorse and to recognise and reward existing owners of retired Tasmanian racehorses for their achievements beyond racing.
What Ms O'Connor is trying to do is besmirch the Tasmanian industry, which is doing very good work in this space.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. I take personal offence to that. It is not about besmirching the local industry. This is about getting the minister to explain what action she has taken to ensure Tasmanian racehorses are not being sent to abattoirs interstate.
Madam SPEAKER - That is not a point of order, but I do not think the minister meant to besmirch you.
Ms ARCHER - Madam Speaker, I answered the member's question in relation to the review of the retirement process, the review of the national data base statistics, and continuing to work with interstate regulatory bodies on a national horse traceability register. National action would be required in that regard.
More than 500 ex-racehorses have participated in our Off the Track program in 2018-19 alone - about 60 per cent of thoroughbreds, with the balance being standard breeds. Tasracing is working with other principal racing authorities in other jurisdictions on a national approach to further enhancing equine welfare.
I urge the Greens not to come out -
Ms O'Connor - Do not give us a lecture. You have not said a word for the past two weeks. You have been silent on this.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor. That is extremely disorderly. It is awful.
Ms ARCHER - They have absolutely no evidence of that occurring in Tasmania and as I have informed the House, that work is being done.
Ms O'Connor - Honestly, the evidence that was put forward -
Madam SPEAKER - Excuse me.