Paul Keating would probably call it “the inquiry the greyhound industry had to have”. A parliamentary inquiry into greyhound racing in New South Wales was announced on August 27th this year. Some see it as a serious avenue for improvement in the sport while others fear it could all but spell the end of the industry, the only thing we know for sure is that it is happening.
Greens MP, Dr John Kaye told the Australian Racing Greyhound that “This parliamentary inquiry was borne out of community and industry concerns over serious allegations of industry mismanagement, inappropriate distribution of TAB proceeds and widespread mistreatment of dogs.” Dr. Kaye is buoyant that the inquiry can provide positive results for the industry. “This inquiry is about shining a light onto an industry that is in trouble and seeking ways to improve outcomes for all participants and the dogs themselves.”
Dr. Kaye is particularly passionate about welfare issues and believes that it is one area that there is scope for improvement in within the industry. “Greyhound Racing NSW has made some steps towards improving animal welfare outcomes, including the introduction of re-homing initiatives. However I have been made aware of allegations that the regulatory body has been unenthusiastic about lifting the lid on some of the practices in parts of the industry that would be deemed to be socially unacceptable.”
Prizemoney and the current Intercode Agreement will also form an important part of the inquiry. It is an issue that has left many industry participants disgruntled and even led to the formation of the Greyhound Action Group (GAG).
“Despite attempts by some members of parliament to exclude the Intercode Agreement from the terms of reference of the inquiry, there will be opportunities for industry participants to raise their concerns about how TAB funds are distributed between each of the codes.” Dr. Kaye said.
“This includes not just the existing split but also the circumstances under which greyhound racing signed up to an agreement that not only lasts 99 years but also now delivers 13 percent of the TAB revenue to a code that generates more than 20 percent of wagering activity.”
“GRNSW argues the Intercode agreement has cost the racing code $125 million since 1998. This is a significant amount of money, and I anticipate that the inquiry will consider whether this is an equitable arrangement.”
When asked if he believed an increase in prizemoney would also assist the welfare issues Dr. Kaye said “It is hard to see how increasing prizemoney would deliver better animal welfare outcomes for those dogs that fail to win races. It may be the case that some individual owners would use increased prize money to improve the treatment of their dogs. However there is no guarantee that this would result in better animal welfare outcomes across the industry.”
One of the terms of reference in the inquiry refers to the adequacy and integrity of data collection in the industry, including the number of pups born, the number of dogs euthanased and injury rates. Dr. Kaye is interested in transparency when it comes to this particular point.
“I will be questioning participants in the inquiry about the regulation of breeding and the alleged over supply of pups. An important task is to break through the cloud of obscurity created by the absence of publicly available data on the number of pups born each year.” said Dr. Kaye.
“If GRNSW has the data and is refusing to release it, then there is a substantial problem of accountability. If it does not have the data, then there is a problem of competence. If the allegations of over-breeding are substantiated, it will be up to GRNSW to explain how the current regulatory model can cope with the problem and bring down the subsequent toll of animals being discarded and killed.”
When asked if the inquiry is likely to be a shot in the arm the industry needs or a possible beginning of the end for the sport Dr. Kaye was a little more circumspect, saying “At this stage it is not possible to anticipate the outcomes of the inquiry, or what information will come to light.”
Public submissions to the inquiry close on November 6th.