As the dogs raced to the home turn, the noise from the onlookers grew and the arms began to wave. Community Values, ‘the people’s dog’ turned for home two lengths clear and the crowd erupted.
“We love you Nugget!” cried one emotional grandmother.
“I wish Andrew Barr could see this!” was the call from a young punter surrounded by his mates.
Why all the passion and commotion?
This Labor-Greens government has made the big call to shut down greyhound racing in the ACT because….well it’s difficult to know exactly why, other than it’s a part of the Labor-Greens power-sharing agreement.
Although there have been some very serious animal welfare issues identified within the sport, none of them have originated from here in the ACT. The Canberra Greyhound Racing Club has a 28-year unblemished record in the animal welfare space and if anything, it’s been a model of how a greyhound track should be run.
Initially, when Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced there was no future for greyhound racing in the ACT, it was in response to the NSW ban. It was his assertion that, practically speaking, if NSW ceased racing, it would be impossible for the ACT to continue. When NSW backed down, Barr held his line irrespective.
Last year when I questioned Gordon Ramsay, the Minister for Regulatory Services, over the reasons for the impending ban, he said that, “Greyhound racing was out of step with community values in the ACT”, but offered no proof of this assertion.
I figured I’d test that belief. I attempted, by syndicate, an unraced greyhound back in October, announcing the project in a speech in the chamber of the Legislative Assembly. I made it clear that I was looking for 20 people who had no previous involvement with greyhound racing and that it would cost them each $300.
“Surely as greyhound racing is so far out of step with community values in the ACT, we’ll have no takers,” I said to the Minister.
The syndicate was fully subscribed in less than an hour and the dog they purchased was officially named Community Values. Community Values, or ‘Nugget’ as his friends call him, came from Victoria in November and went into the care of Lesley Hannaford at Bungendore. He commenced his racing career in late January and finished second in his first three attempts.
On Sunday night, he finally drew an inside box and pinged straight to the front before running away with an emphatic victory in very slick time. The reaction at the track was remarkable. There were tears from some syndicate members and high fives all over the course.
The local greyhound community has been belted by the Labor-Greens government and this little dog gives them all hope.
It’s difficult to understand how ACT Labor and the Greens could get this so wrong. The lack of process and the elitist arrogance shown to these people is breathtaking.
And as for Nugget himself, it’s abundantly clear that he loves racing. Once he gets to the track, he’s difficult to restrain. His excitement is a joy to watch. The tail never stops wagging and he tries to leap in the air as he’s being led to the boxes.
The definition of animal cruelty would be trying to explain to Nugget that he wasn’t allowed to race anymore, that greyhound racing was banned because it was cruel. Nugget would just not understand.
Nugget will continue racing if the ACT ban comes into place, it’s just that it’ll be over the border in Goulburn and the soon to be constructed new track at Queanbeyan.
I just wonder what the point of it all was.