The ACT looks set to follow NSW Premier Mike Baird’s decision to ban greyhound racing but other states and territories are holding out.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr called the Special Commission of Inquiry’s report “damning” and added “there is no future for this industry in the ACT.”
Mr Barr said a significant number of trainers that raced in Canberra were based in NSW.
“It is untenable for the ACT Government to continue allowing and financially supporting the practice of greyhound racing.
“The government cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the sort of behaviour and cruelty uncovered by the Special Commission of Inquiry.”
The reckoning may come swiftly for greyhound racing in the territory as the ACT government’s MOU with the ACT racing industry is up for review in mid-2017.
Mr Baird announced the ban after receiving a horrifying report into the state’s greyhound industry by high court judge Michael McHugh.
The report found that up to 70,000 healthy dogs were exterminated over a period of 12 years because they were not considered to be fast enough and a further 136 dogs died after suffering “catastrophic” injuries during races.
Live baiting, where a possum, rabbit or piglet is used to train a dog was “widespread” and there was evidence of doping, with dogs being fed steroids, caffeine and amphetamines.
Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) was found guilty of routinely covering up the deaths and injuries of dogs and giving a free pass to live-baiting.
Animal Welfare League CEO Andrew Maso told the ABC said he had “no doubt” other states would take their cue from NSW and ban greyhound racing.
“What we’ve seen in the United States is that states, one by one, have been banning greyhound racing over there and there’s now only a handful of states that have greyhound racing,” he said.
“I’ve got no doubt that’s exactly what’s going to happen in Australia.”
But his prediction does not appear to be quite so certain of being fulfilled.
Victoria has no plans to outlaw greyhound racing, despite several inquiries and the practice of live-baiting being uncovered. Greyhound Racing Victoria has said it is making every effort to clean up the sport by acting on a clutch of recommendations from two separate inquiries.
South Australia won’t be implementing a ban either, with Sports Minister Leon Bignell claiming greyhound racing in his state was clean and insisting there were no evidence of cruelty or corruption.
Joining the ranks of refusers are Queensland and Western Australia.
Queensland Racing Minister Grace Grace said the industry was on its final warning but she disappointed animal welfare groups by adding that the industry was capable of redemption so a ban could be avoided.
Greyhounds WA chief David Hobbs said there were only three racing tracks in the state, compared with NSW’s 29, and argued there was much better oversight of the industry in WA.
“Wrongly, Western Australia has, to a degree, been tarnished with a very broad brush with what’s happened on the east coast,” Mr Hobbs told news.com.
“We’ve worked very hard to get the industry where it is today, we have a very clean industry.”
Over in Western Australia, a Racing and Wagering WA inquiry did not uncover any significant evidence of malpractice and found no evidence of live bating being used as a training technique.
Tasmanian greyhound trainers are awaiting the results of a joint select committee inquiry into the industry. The Tasmanian government has ruled out rushing to ban greyhound racing on the back of the NSW boycott.
Meanwhile, greyhound adoption agencies are calling for more funding amid fears they will be swamped by retired dogs or that there will be a mass slaughter of dogs, possibly done overseas, in the run up to the ban kicking in next year.
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