THE NSW Greyhound Racing Industry Alliance believes the proposed Victorian Code of Practice is “clearly unreasonable, unworkable and potentially unviable”.
The boss of the Alliance, Brenton Scott, also defended its role in dropping legal challenges to the Special Commission of Inquiry report by Justice Michael McHugh, which came under heavy fire from participants for being factually inaccurate, but has still bobbed up as a reference in the Victorian Code of Practice.
He said any factual inaccuracies in the McHugh report were given leniency because of its status as a Special Commission Inquiry and were not the basis of the legal challenges put forward at both Supreme and Federal Court level.
Scott said NSW GBOTA, the Alliance and other bodies like the AFGBOTA would be formulating a response to the proposed Victorian Code of Conduct and its appropriateness.
“All modern, ethical industries should have in place codes of practice. A good code of practice should outline minimum standards and provide guidance to the said industry on a continuous improvement basis,” he said.
“The draft Victorian Code seems to have taken an unnecessarily prescriptive approach with some expectations clearly unreasonable, unworkable and potentially unviable.
“The code should be clearly clarifying animal welfare responsibilities but, in its current form, it provides insufficient flexibility for variation in how trainers go about caring for and training their greyhounds.”
Scott urged NSW greyhound participants to be active in the debate and use the feedback avenues for the Victorian Code of Conduct because it is likely to influence a similar code set to be enacted in their state when the Welfare and Integrity Commission is established.
“As many NSW participants and stakeholder representative bodies [as possible] should take up the opportunity to respond to the Victorian draft so as to make the final code workable and reasonable,” he said.
“NSW stakeholders need to ensure that the NSW code comes together in a process that involves stakeholder engagement, not simply consultation.”
Before the NSW greyhound ban was thrown out and eventually repealed after a public outcry and heavy campaigning by various groups, including the Alliance, the Shooters and Fishers Party and the Australian Sport and Racing Party, the industry was in the throes of legally challenging the validity of the McHugh report.
Despite a large chunk of the greyhound community believing the legal challenges were based on inaccuracies in the report, Scott explained the challenges were aimed at having the ban thrown out because it didn’t follow procedural law, under section 92 of the Australian constitution.
The Alliance abandoned the legal challenges when the ban was repealed with the decision drawing fire after the recently drafted Victorian Code of Practice for the Keeping of Racing Greyhounds and its Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) directly referenced the report.
The RIS noted that while the NSW greyhound industry is not a reflection of the industry in Victoria, investigations such as the Special Commission of Inquiry identified a “variety of concerns in relation to the greyhound racing industry in a broader context across Australia, including; a lack of transparency or identification of operators; lack of education or information of operators, perceived poor breeding and training programs; poor welfare of dogs; wastage (oversupply) of animals; governance of racing and betting, and; the live baiting issues.”
“The Federal Court action was commenced once the prohibition legislation was presented to parliament. It challenged the legislation under section 92 of the constitution. It obviously became redundant once the legislation was repealed,” Scott said.
“Whilst the RIS makes some reference to the McHugh report, it also relies on information included in the Four Corners Report, the Perna, Milne and McSporran reports.”
One of the main points of contention in the McHugh report were claims that 50 to 70 per cent of greyhounds are slaughtered every year, with the Alliance instead presenting evidence that just 6.9 per cent are euthanised as wastage.