Page 3647 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 22 November 2022

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inclusive community. I would like to thank the Weston Creek Community Council for hosting the workshop.

Racing—harness racing

MR PARTON (Brindabella) (4.46): I rise this afternoon to speak in support of harness racing in the ACT. I attended the race meeting at the harness racing track in Mitchell on Monday night of last week, and I had a stack of conversations with a bunch of Canberrans, and some individuals from across the border, about the future of their sport in the nation’s capital.

I have got to say, everyone I spoke to was absolutely gobsmacked at the Greens’ lack of understanding of the funding model for the racing codes, and, additionally, at what they characterised as the cruelty from the Greens for trying to end their hobby, their pastime, or their employment. I can tell you, most of these people take the Greens’ attacks very personally. They absolutely take offence at the inference that they do not care for their animals properly—that, somehow, their horses are not looked after.

I understand that most of the current debate has been about funding, but, certainly, if we go back and we have a look at statements that have been made in the past by the party, broadly speaking, there is an inference that people do not look after their animals properly. Let us actually focus on the horses—there is an inference that both thoroughbred and standardbred horses do not enjoy running really fast, but they do. They do.

I spoke to a number of trainers and drivers who are confused about exactly what the Chief Minister alluded to in the chamber regarding the proposition that the Harness Racing Club and the thoroughbred racing club would co-locate, because they know, as well as I do, that those conversations are not well advanced. Although it was put forward by the Chief Minister, and again at the recent hearings by Mr Steel as the minister overseeing racing, they know that it is, at this stage, just a pie in the sky thought bubble.

I spent some time down in the stables, where I could see a genuine emotional connection between horse and human. It was great to see John O’Sullivan manning the barbecue down at the stables as a service to those from near and far who had horses engaged in the meeting. I also did my best to supplement the income of the local bookmaker on the night—in that, although we had a number of transactions, they all involved me giving money to him, rather than vice-versa!

It was great to see Jenny from the Harness Racing Club in fine form working behind the bar. I had the best roast pork and gravy roll that I have ever had, with heaps of crackling. It was unbelievable! I just revelled in this slice of traditional Australia, that remains at Exhibition Park. May it remain there forever.

The clear message I have for the Greens from the punters, the owners, the trainers, the strappers and the high-vis-wearing regular Australians at the harness racing is: “Leave us the hell alone.”

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