Page 3057 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 22 August 2017

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The Durkin report analyses data that indicates that, of around 27,288 dogs that raced over the five years from 2012 to 2016, 171 greyhounds experienced minor injuries, 92 greyhounds experienced medium injuries, 39 greyhounds experienced major injuries and 26 greyhounds experienced catastrophic injuries and were euthanised at the track on the day of racing. The Durkin report further notes that injury rates and the later euthanasia of dogs following their participation at race meetings do not always appear in the data made available to the public. While the Canberra Greyhound Racing Club has introduced a number of safety measures to reduce injuries, the reality is that the community does not want greyhound racing to continue or for dogs to continue to be euthanised at these rates.

The Durkin report also clearly demonstrated why it is not possible to consider the operation of the greyhound racing industry in Canberra in isolation from the New South Wales industry. The ACT industry is small and is part of a broader regional network of greyhound racing activities. New South Wales owners and trainers represent a significant majority of participants in greyhound racing in the ACT.

In 2016 approximately 71 dogs that raced here were based in the ACT, while 1,107 were from New South Wales. Many dogs are kennelled in New South Wales and the ACT greyhound racing industry, including participants based in the territory, are licensed and overseen by Greyhound Racing NSW. If greyhound racing were to continue in the territory, the Canberra community would have no certainty that dogs being brought to the ACT from other jurisdictions to race would not come from breeders and trainers engaging in the abhorrent practices highlighted by the special commission of inquiry in New South Wales.

While the New South Wales government has embarked on a significant series of reforms in an attempt to address animal welfare concerns in the industry, the outcome is not assured. We do know that this is a lengthy and extraordinarily expensive exercise and that New South Wales will spend $41 million over the next five years to implement the recommendations of its greyhound industry reform panel. This includes $11 million for establishing an independent greyhound welfare and integrity commission. As outlined in the Durkin report, it could take years before the New South Wales government knows whether its reforms have been effective. This is too long to wait. The ACT community does not support the inhumane treatment of greyhounds or the risk inherent in their participation in the industry.

There is no guarantee that even after embarking on such a significant process of reform the regulatory framework in New South Wales could be relied on by the ACT greyhound racing industry to eliminate animal welfare breaches in the future, nor is it reasonable to expect the ACT community to meet the cost of directly regulating greyhound racing ourselves. The government’s memorandum of understanding with the Canberra Greyhound Racing Club concluded on 30 June this year, after which ACT taxpayers are no longer subsidising this industry. They are instead funding a fair and equitable transition towards the end of this industry. A small number of people and businesses will be impacted, and we encourage them to come forward and take up the support offered through $1 million in transition funding.

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