Page 5156 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 28 November 2017
for greyhound racing in the ACT, nor will it be possible for an entity to become an approved racing organisation for race meetings involving greyhound races. The definition of “race” in the Racing Act will be amended so that it no longer includes greyhound racing.
The amendment bill includes consequential amendments to a number of acts and regulations as a result of ending greyhound racing in the ACT. A number of these amendments are necessary to continue to allow betting on greyhound races that are held outside the ACT.
When I introduced this bill, I spoke about the history behind the government’s decision to end greyhound racing in the territory. I note that Ms Lee asked me in annual reports this year if I thought this Assembly could have a full and robust debate on the greyhounds legislation, given the ongoing litigation. I can say with confidence that not only does this Assembly have enough information to debate these bills but it certainly has been a full debate today. There is compelling evidence on the public record, and continuing to emerge, that this Assembly should act now to end the greyhound racing industry.
In introducing this bill I recalled the disturbing stories about the greyhound racing industry that were exposed in that infamous episode of Four Corners in 2015. I also referred to the extensive inquiry and report prepared by the Hon Michael McHugh, in his capacity as Commissioner of the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry in New South Wales. The McHugh report found “overwhelming evidence of systemic animal cruelty, including mass greyhound killings and live baiting”, and concluded that the industry had “fundamental animal welfare issues, integrity and governance failings that cannot be remedied”.
Some of those who wish to see greyhound racing continue in the territory have argued that the Canberra Greyhound Racing Club itself has a blemish-free record in terms of animal welfare. Indeed it may be tempting to think that the abhorrent practices exposed by government inquiries in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria have no impact on the greyhounds that race here.
However, we know that this cannot be true. We know this because the government has engaged an independent consultant, Ms Mary Durkin, to analyse the greyhound racing industry as it operates in the ACT and outline transition options for the industry. After the government decided that there was no future for greyhound racing in the territory, we wanted to have a clear picture of what needed to be done to best consider the needs of the people and the greyhounds involved here.
Ms Durkin met with Canberra Greyhound Racing Club employees, board members, contractors and service providers attached to the local industry. She went out to the track on race day. She spoke to owners and trainers. She spoke to animal welfare experts and those involved with rehoming retired racing greyhounds. Ms Durkin gathered the best data and evidence available to her and provided me with a detailed and considered report on 15 May 2017.