Canberra’s greyhound racing industry has invested more than $200,000 and brought in constitutional lawyers to fight legislation to end greyhound racing introduced into the ACT Legislative Assembly yesterday.
Under the new bill introduced by ACT Attorney-General and Minister for Regulatory Services Gordon Ramsay, the racing and trialling of greyhounds in the ACT will be banned from April 30 next year, with penalties of up to $15,000 or a year in jail for anyone caught racing illegally.
The breeding, training and ownership of greyhounds for racing in other jurisdictions will still be permitted in the ACT but new safeguards will be introduced to protect the greyhounds.
Canberra Greyhound Racing Club spokesman Kel Watt said the club has support from the industry across Australia in fighting the closure of the industry and that legal action has already started.
“We remain completely opposed to any shutdown,” Mr Watt said.
He said there has never been an animal welfare breach in nearly 40 years of the club operating in Canberra and there have also never been any allegations of live baiting.
“We have a perfect and unblemished record when it comes to animal welfare,” Mr Watt said.
He said that Canberra’s greyhound industry is rejecting any offer of transitional assistance and is instead pursuing legal action among a range of measures to fight the industry’s closure.
Mr Ramsay said that the new legislation will remove recognition of greyhound racing from the Racing Act from April 30 next year.
He said that people exiting the industry will have until June 30 next year to apply for transition support, and the Government has extended the roll-out of the available funding for an extra three months to September 30, 2018.
“When we announced the ban we launched the Greyhound Industry Transition Taskforce to support people and dogs affected by the incoming ban,” Mr Ramsay said.
“It’s pleasing to see people coming forward to take that up. I encourage everyone exiting the industry to contact the Taskforce to begin their transition now.”
Mr Ramsay said that breeding, training and ownership of racing greyhounds in the ACT will be monitored against a mandatory Code of Practice, to be developed in consultation with industry and animal welfare experts.
“The legislation places new registration requirements on the owners and those who have day-to-day control of racing greyhounds, to improve monitoring of the number of ACT dogs still participating in the industry,” Mr Ramsay said.
“This includes an obligation on all greyhound breeders to notify the government of new litters within seven days so that every young greyhound is accounted for.
“Sadly, one of the blind spots identified by the Durkin Report was a genuine understanding of how many dogs die in the course of their racing careers, or before they’ve even begun. This is a welfare concern that we’re determined to address with these new monitoring provisions and registration requirements,” he said.
“The McHugh report in NSW clearly identified much damage to dogs is done before racing starts – not just to those that are deemed unsuitable and killed, but through live baiting, live blooding, and lack of socialisation that can make these dogs difficult or impossible to rehome if they’re not raced.
“As the Durkin report found, the local greyhound industry cannot be divorced from the NSW greyhound industry. We have taken the step of banning greyhound racing to ensure that the documented and acknowledged failures in NSW cannot happen in the ACT. This kind of activity is simply unacceptable and out of line with community values.”
Mr Ramsay said that the Greyhound Industry Transition Taskforce is encouraging all eligible people to apply for an individually tailored Transition Support Package. For more information go to www.act.gov.au/greyhoundtaskforce
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