The theme for this year’s International Day of Forests (21 March) is ‘forests and health’. It provides an opportunity to reflect on the important role that forests play in our lives and whether our national environmental laws, which are currently under review, are doing enough to ensure that future generations...
We came so close to ending cruel greyhound racing in NSW, only to have former Premier Mike Baird bullied by talk back radio into giving the industry a ‘second chance’. In the 3 months since the spectacular back flip, HSI examines the evidence to see what the industry is doing with its second chance and warns new Premier Gladys Berejiklian little has changed.
Our analysis of injury and trackside euthanasia numbers before and after Baird’s backflip shows its business as usual. In fact, the injuries and dogs being put down have increased at TAB tracks in the three months since the industry was given their reprieve.
|Three months prior to ban overturn:
10th July 2016 –
9th October 2016
|Three months following ban overturn:
10th October 2016 – 10th January 2017
The industry has also reneged on a promise to limit the total dogs bred in NSW. This commitment is crucial to stop ‘wastage’—an awful euphemism for the dogs abandoned and killed as either not competitive or surplus to the industry’s needs. These are the dogs who were ending up in illegal mass graves and who we can continue to expect at the door of already over-burdened greyhound rescue and rehoming organisations.
There are further alarm bells ringing in the industry’s contribution to the Review Panel set up to decide on the rules for their second chance. The Review Panel, chaired by Morris Iemma and including representatives from industry and the RSPCA, has just delivered a report to the NSW Government. Included among its 122 proposals is a ban on the keeping of small animals at properties with greyhound racing tracks. This is to help enforce the existing ban on live baiting – precisely the abhorrent practice which led to so much scrutiny on the industry in the first place. Disturbingly, the industry’s representative on the panel did not agree and argued for an exemption for keeping of piglets.
Disturbingly, the industry’s representative on the panel did not agree and argued for an exemption for keeping of piglets.
Piglets are commonly used to bait greyhounds because of their squeal. Surely, any genuine resolve to end live baiting would see industry willing to cooperate with all measures needed to aid compliance rather than arguing for loopholes? The same representative also protested the mandatory installation of CCTV at all private trial tracks. The Premier should be suspicious, very suspicious.
A review by the Greens revealed that the use of prohibited substances on greyhounds is still rife. They discovered that substances including ketamine, amphetamines, cobalt and pesticides have been detected on several occasions. This demonstrates the blatant disregard by an industry thrown into the spotlight for animal cruelty and under investigation.
What of cultural change in the industry? Across the border Victoria is not setting any examples. Recently the Victorian disciplinary board has allowed a greyhound trainer to continue racing after pleading guilty to cutting off his dog’s tail without pain relief to avoid the vet bill and forcing it to race with the injury. The on-course vet found the wound was undergoing gangrenous necrosis after it was taped too tight with a dirty bandage and said the wound would have been life threatening for the dog without treatment. This same trainer was named Trainer of the Year for 2015 and 2016 by the Shepparton Greyhound Club, both awards presented to him after the barbaric incident was brought to light.
Following the Review Panel report, the industry is now arguing about who pays for the reforms in NSW. We believe it must be the industry, not taxpayers. HSI is also very interested to know what is happening to the $22m of tax subsidies that were slated to prop up this cruel industry prior to the original announcement for a ban.
This question is all the more interesting when you consider how much tax the industry is paying themselves. Questions the Greens put to the ATO in the Federal Parliament have revealed the NSW greyhound racing industry only paid $169,300 income tax in the 2014/2015 financial year, this includes people who listed their main activity on their income tax return as dog training for racing, greyhound training or racing kennel operations. Considering that during the same period the industry generated an income of $344.4 million (according to GRNSW Annual Report 2015), the figures just don’t add up given the industry supposedly employs thousands of people.
There should certainly not be any public subsidy of animal cruelty from tax payers and the industry’s own tax contributions need urgent investigation.
In breaking news, cross bench MPs are blackmailing the NSW Government into giving the greyhound industry a massive public subsidy. The Shooters & Fishers and the Christian Democrats are saying they wont vote for the ban to be lifted without $30m a year for five years going to prop up the industry and help them pay to mitigate their own animal cruelty. HSI doesn’t want the ban lifted, but neither do we want public funds to subsidise a cruel industry. Premier Berejiklian should call their bluff and keep the ban in place and we call on the ALP to block any public subsidy.
You can take action. The legislation to ban greyhound racing has not yet been withdrawn from Parliament.
Use this form to tell NSW Premier Berejiklian that you question the industry’s commitment to reform and ask that the ban on greyhound racing remain. If she chooses to risk animal cruelty and allow the industry to continue, then ask that it does so with the strongest possible rules, mandatory CCTV, no exemptions for the keeping of piglets, a cap on breeding and zero public funding.