I have a confession to make, and its one that is not made easily or lightly… The Greens are right about the NSW greyhound racing bill.
I’m not sure they understand why they are right, and I’m confident they have arrived at the same place with quite a different agenda in mind. But nonetheless they are right.
There are serious inconsistencies in the NSW Greyhound Racing Bill 2017.
I’m not referring to the fact that the reforms will impose global best practice animal industry benchmarks while other animal industries and racing codes are immune
I’m not referring to the fact that the NSW Government has failed to adequately fund the Greyhound Racing Integrity Commission (GRIC).
I’m not referring to the fact that should the greyhound racing reforms be successful, then both Racing NSW and Harness Racing NSW will be virtually compelled to enact similar animal welfare reforms and regulate breeding at the expense of participant returns.
I’m not referring to the fact the NSW greyhound industry remains cutoff from foreign investment, the same prolific buyers, that have thoroughbred owners cheering in anticipation of a major payday when an offer comes in from China, Dubai, Singapore and Macau for their charge.
I’m not referring to the fact that an Australian greyhound cannot be exported outside of Australia, other than to New Zealand, despite the fact there is no evidence at all that the animal welfare outcomes for a thoroughbred exported to China’s mainland is any different to that of a greyhound. None at all.
The Greens Dr Mehreen Faruqi stated a case in the NSW Legislative Council when she pointed out the loopholes that can be exploited once a dog is outside of the GRNSW jurisdiction.
“There is also currently no plan to track greyhounds once they have been adopted. It is conceivable that a trainer could adopt out an animal to a relative or associate, who would then be free to dispose of the animal to the local pound or have the animal euthanized, with the trainer having discharged their responsibilities,” he said.
While Dr Faruqi hopes to achieve different objectives to me, it seems absurd that laws are enforced on the greyhound industry, and not on animal welfare groups or on any other animal owners, or groups, in the country.
This bill is going to enforce one of the greatest inconsistencies related to animal welfare that I can recall.
The bill once enacted will establish the GRIC and implement a code of practice that will set strict minimum standards on how greyhounds can be bred, reared, trained, housed and kept. It will impose strict criteria on kennel sizes, bedding, fencing, health records, veterinary attention, feeding, and exercise regimes.
This is a serious and committed statement from the NSW community that these minimum animal welfare standards are important to our moral and social being as a community. There are provision for these minimum standards to be tracked, assessed, regulated and supervised for a greyhounds entire life cycle.
But only while the greyhound is in the ownership or control of a registered greyhound racing participant.
The second the greyhound leaves the ownership of that participant, the NSW government and the NSW community as a whole are saying those standards are no longer important.
For example, under the legislation it is vital a greyhound gets a minimum of three hours exercise, with a specific type and height of fencing surrounding the paddock; then after the stroke of a pen, this is no longer necessary. The only thing changed is the registered owner. The greyhound didn’t change. The dog didn’t suddenly become lazy or any less needing of the high standards of health and nutrition.
Another example is the so called ‘rescue’ groups, or greyhound rehoming services. There is no provision in this bill for those businesses to meet the same minimum standards of compliance and code of practice the registered greyhound participants are required to.
Why? How can this be? These are the same greyhounds.
It beggars belief that animal welfare organisations that are set to receive significant funding from the greyhound industry and the NSW Government do not have to comply with these same minimum standards.
They don’t need to feed them the same, house or kennel them the same, maintain the same health records, nor seek the same veterinary attention for the same ailments or injuries.
Don’t for a minute suggest that they don’t need to comply, because the conditions are better. That is not an argument. If conditions are better, then there should be no issue with being subject to the code of practice and GRIC compliance.
And what of the full life tracking, that is such a vital component of the suggested reforms? Why is a greyhound not tracked once it leaves a participants ownership, once it is being re-homed, once it has found its place in the pet world?
Are the good people of NSW saying: “greyhound you are no longer important to us”. Are we really to believe that greyhounds life cycle health and well being was so important a short time ago to us; but now it is not.
How is this the message that animal welfare proponents want to send.
Is a greyhound’s well-being only important to animal welfare proponents, the Government, and the community while that greyhound can be used as a political tool, or to help facilitate state revenues?
It is one of the greatest injustices and inconsistencies of animal welfare that has been perpetrated upon an entire industry.
If a greyhounds life, health and well being is truly important to us as a community, then it remains important to us all regardless of its stage in life or who owns it.