Page 5139 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 28 November 2017

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MR PARTON (Brindabella) (3.53): This is a very sad day for this Assembly and a sad day for Canberra generally. I am appalled that we are here—absolutely appalled that this government has allowed itself to be dictated to by Mr Rattenbury and Ms Le Couteur and that we see ourselves in this position. How can you possibly shut down an industry on the basis of hearsay and innuendo? Those on the left say that this bill is about animal cruelty. They are right; it is about cruelty. This is one of the most heartless pieces of legislation I have seen tabled.

The people of the greyhound racing industry in and around the ACT have done nothing wrong. Despite the government’s attempts to smear, and despite the heightened and completely unnecessary campaign from the government to find the tiniest speck of dirt on this sport, nothing has been found—nothing. I have questioned the minister on a number of occasions and asked him to detail every single animal welfare breach uncovered by the authorities pertaining to this sport in 38 years. There have been none. This is despite the regulatory blitzkrieg that we have seen in this space, with inspections of facilities increasing more than tenfold in the last six months. The people in the local industry are absolutely devastated. They are gutted. They are almost crushed. The damage that has been done to these people was uncalled for, is reprehensible and is unforgivable. Most of these people were once Labor voters. They never, ever will be again.

I stand here today and express my total disappointment that we have come to this. What this government is doing today is absurdly ridiculous. How totally absurd it will seem if and when we get to the stage where a sparkling new greyhound track has been built in Queanbeyan, six kilometres east of the current facility. If and when that occurs, many will be saying, “What was the point of all this?” What was the point? Aside from the loss of jobs, the loss of income for the ACT and the complete dismantling of some individuals’ lives, what have we actually achieved? Nothing at all. The only winners out of this will be the Greens. It is based on blind Greens ideology. It will cause enormous pain to a group of people who have been Labor voters all of their lives. But more than anything else, it has been done without regard to process, without regard to evidence and without regard to a growing voice of community discontent and disgust.

I understand that the loudest voices in this debate have come from the two extreme sides. We have had some loud voices from those in the industry and we have had some loud voices from the animal liberation sector, who seek to close the industry down. I note that we have a large gathering in the gallery today. I genuinely respect the position of those who are here, but it must be pointed out very clearly that, certainly based on the many discussions that I have had on social media and the many discussions that I have had with those who are vehemently opposing this industry, if most of those loud voices against greyhound racing believed that there was any sniff of a chance to ban harness racing, they would be jumping on that bandwagon very loudly. And, indeed, they intend to. If they believed that there was even a sniff of a chance to ban thoroughbred racing, they would be there with bells on. If they believed that there was the sniff of a chance to ban all farming—all farming—involving animals, they would be going hard at that too.

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