Greens NSW MP John Kaye will introduce a bill to the state Parliament this week to ban all greyhound racing in NSW amid growing evidence that the industry is incapable of operating without animal abuse.
‘Government hounded over animal abuse’, Sun Herald, 10 May, page 16.
The tougher stand is in response to recent revelations of gross animal mistreatment, including the use of possums and rabbits as live bait to train greyhounds and the routine killing of dogs surplus to the industry’s needs.
The Greens’ resolve has been strengthened by evidence exposed by Queensland’s highly effective special police task force of possums used repeatedly as live bait in rolling cages and children as young as 11 participating in live baiting.
Both the industry regulator and the government have consistently failed to ensure basic levels of animal welfare are being met. It is now clear that additional inquiries or regulations will be unable to overcome the ingrained cultural and economic drivers that are leading to animal abuse in the industry.
Australia is just one of eight jurisdictions that permit commercial greyhound racing. In the USA, 39 states have outlawed the practice.
The Greens’ Greyhound Racing Prohibition Bill 2015 seeks to ban all greyhound racing by 1 January 2016. It would dissolve the regulatory and commercial industry body Greyhound Racing NSW and transfer its assets to the Minister for Racing, solely for the purposes of rehabilitating and re-homing affected dogs and transitioning current employees of GRNSW to new employment.
The Bill would also prohibit greyhounds being exported from NSW other than as companion animals to end the contribution of this state to international greyhound racing, in particularly low welfare dates such as Vietnam and Macau.
Greens MP John Kaye said: “Animals, gambling and profits are a particularly toxic mix.
“As long as there is commercial greyhound racing there will be animal cruelty.
“NSW and Australia are amongst a small number of dishonourable exceptions to the world-wide realisation that greyhounds are not commodities and commercial racing cannot be conducted without substantial animal welfare abuses.
“Australia is just one of eight countries worldwide that have a commercial industry. Even in the USA, 39 states have banned the practice.
“The breadth of animal welfare violations exposed in NSW and Queensland makes it clear that no amount of reform can create an industry that can meet community standards.
“There has been no evidence of a willingness to change the culture of dogs as economic objects and no solution has been offered to the intrinsic problem of greyhounds that do not preform well.
“The sheer volume of greyhounds bred each year in search of ‘winners’ creates a ‘surplus’ most of whom will inevitably end up abandoned or killed.
“Any industry that results in the death of 3,000 dogs each year in name of profit has reached its expiry date.
“The Baird government’s inquiry will take at least a year to conclude, during which 3,000 dogs are likely to disappear and the perpetrators of live baiting will continue to profit at the racetrack.
“Both the Coalition government and Labor Opposition are guilty of dramatically exaggerating the importance of greyhound racing to the NSW economy.
“Greyhound racing industry is a poor generator of employment. It contributes little to the NSW economy and provides opportunities for yet more problem gambling.
“Greyhound racing is already in decline in NSW. Participants were leaving in droves even before the live baiting scandal.
“The relatively few people employed by the industry should be given the opportunity to re-skill and find alternative work.
“Greyhound racing has no place in a modern NSW,” Dr Kaye said.
For more information: John Kaye 0407 195 455
The Greens will give notice of the Greyhound Racing Prohibition Bill 2015 in the Legislative Council on Tuesday 12 May.
Key features of the bill include:
- A ban on all greyhound racing effective 1 January 2016. The ban covers the act of greyhound racing as well as wagering.
- The establishment of a Greyhound Racing Transition Task Force to assist current employees in the industry to find new work and to assist in the rehabilitation and rehoming of dogs.
- Provisions to dissolve current industry regulator Greyhound Racing NSW and transfer its assets to the Minister to fund the Greyhound Racing Transition Task Force.
- An prohibition on the export of greyhounds for racing or breeding purposes.
- Provisions to stop greyhounds formerly registered in NSW racing outside the state. This is to prevent the displacement of the NSW industry to other jurisdictions.
Economic and employment impacts:
The greyhound racing industry is a relatively poor employment generator. Despite turning over $1 billion in wagering each year, it is estimated that the industry employs just 1,561 people .
Economic analysis conducted by Price Waterhouse Coopers in 2014 found that “the racing industry is a consumptive sector of the NSW economy. As such, it doesn’t generate any significant productivity benefits to the rest of the economy to lift State output permanently.”
If banned, the money not spent on wagering could be allocated into other, more productive industries.
The greyhound racing industry is already in decline.
The number of people participating in the industry, including trainers and owners, has fallen by approximately 1,000 over the past five years.
Future of the dogs in the industry:
The bill would create a Greyhound Transition Task Force charged with the responsibility of working with animal welfare groups to ensure the long term welfare of dogs exiting the racing industry.
The Greens Greyhound Racing Prohibition Bill 2015 would require the transfer of funds and assets currently held by the industry regulator Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) to the NSW government for the purpose of rehabilitating and rehoming affected dogs.
Failure of regulation to improve animal welfare outcomes:
Experience has shown that the welfare issues facing the greyhound racing industry are profound, systemic and inherent.
It is now clear that breeding thousands of dogs to produce a relatively few racers is an animal welfare issue that is very unlikely to be overcome by any level of regulation. The economies of scale means that there is always likely to be significant numbers of greyhounds ‘surplus’ to the industry’s needs, with little economic incentive to rehabilitate and re-home retired dogs. Past modes of regulation, both government and industry based, have failed to address this issue.
The practice of live baiting also appears to be widespread and accepted.
The need to ban all forms of greyhound racing:
Banning wagering on greyhound racing but still permitting the practice risks driving the industry underground. In the absence any oversight or regulation, a black market commercial greyhound racing industry could have serious ramifications for animal welfare, problem gambling and crime.