27 February 2018

Labor and the Greens out of step with community values

| Mark Parton MLA
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Community Values: the 'people's dog'.

Community Values: the ‘people’s dog’.

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.

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For a long time I was a pretty keen leftie, and a small g greenie. Bought a home that ran due East-West and all that.

How many home built since this coalition started are well oriented? I’d be willing to bet that most of them are NOT. done to maximise the revenue.

It has taken me a long while to realise that people aren’t actually left or right, but are either truly interested in what’s right for most of us and for the planet and the authoritarians.

For over a decade I rode a bicycle to work from the top of Kambah to the Parliamentary triangle for work. I avoided riding on roads and especially any 80kmh or higher examples. This was when traffic densities were far lower than now. Yet I still got pushed off the road a few times.

This current coalition fits the authoritarian frame way more than they will be able to recognise.

I wouldn’t like to use Tony Abbott as an exemplar for anything, except this kind of refusal to look at facts. In his case over Climate Change and the Western world’s role.

A similar exemplar is the bike lanes and the new laws aimed at blaming the majority – car drivers who need one to manage their lives and time – when this coalition have upped the risks to bicyclists by encouraging them into a very, very risky situation. It is a ‘we are right, you are wrong’ approach!

It is obvious to me that more cyclists will be injured and more seriously than before this set of policies were instituted. I do wonder if we will be allowed to know.

Sadly the alternative probably aren’t capable of offering anything coherent or fair, or environmentally sound, either.

Shannon Boyd7:55 pm 03 Mar 18

It’s time the majority of ACT residents show the Greens /Labour Government they are the ones out of touch .
But it won’t happen because it’s the Australian way to say “ it don’t affect me , so I don’t care”
Look what the act has already banned Circus , now greyhound racing , All because the noisy minority.
How Labour in all states and federal government can team up with the protesting greens beats me . The greens in all states are out of touch with normal Australians
The greens were formed to save trees etc .
Maybe they been smoking them to long .

What about all the dogs that are culled because they are not regarded as fast enough?

Mark Parton MLA9:47 am 02 Mar 18

The Canberra Greyhound Club has a 100% rehoming policy. Over many years in so many ways, this club has led the way in the animal welfare space.

What about all the animals that are put down by the RSPCA etc because they can’t sell them? How is that any better?

What about the dogs from interstate that run in Canberra sometimes?

Are any dogs injured during races?

Capital Retro8:18 am 05 Mar 18

What about the slow horses that meet the same fate?

justin heywood2:37 pm 01 Mar 18

Good luck with that Mark, but I’m afraid you’re in the wrong team.

How many Green-Left voters would you see at the average greyhound meeting?

The greyhound industry is such an easy target for a government like Barr’s – kick a few bogans with absolutely no risk of alienating any of their supporters.

Meanwhile, our loveable cats kill millions of our native species EVERY NIGHT*; but hey, lets not let reality interrupt our moral grandstanding.


I think you’d find the majority of greyhound enthusiasts are more working class rather than middle or upper and as such would normally be more likely to be Labor voters than anything else. Of course with this decision by Labor & the Greens that could well change next election, but I don’t think there’s enough people who would change their votes as a result of the ban to make a difference to who wins government.

In regards to cats, I think you’ll find that most people, including cat lovers, don’t think of feral cats as loveable, but rather as pests. You’re lumping in pets with feral animals when the research I’ve read says the average pet cat that is neutered, well fed and kept indoors at night doesn’t hunt much in comparison. Just like dangerous dogs, what’s most needed in regards to pet cats is education of owners and enforcement of existing laws with maybe a little tinkering – like registration to ensure neutering and overnight curfews.

Mark Parton MLA4:59 pm 01 Mar 18

When I go to the Greys here in Canberra on a Sunday night I talk to a helluva lot of former ALP voters. To some extent they were ‘heartland Labor people’, They feel well and truly abandoned now.

justin heywood5:56 pm 01 Mar 18

Yes Garfield, I see what your point and agree that the greyhound industry IS generally ‘working class’, ‘salt of the earth’, ‘battlers’ etc. – but I would argue that Barr and his support base are not traditional working class Labor, but Green-Left, which has a focus on inner-city residents and their particular sensibilities. I don’t think Barr and his ilk would have anything in common with the average greyhound enthusiast.

In regard to domestic cats, if you read the linked report on the US study, it is not just referring to feral cats; around half of domestic cats were on the prowl as well.

As you say, more education and tighter controls would help stop the slaughter and cruelty, but the same can be said for the greyhound industry.

When the NSW report was released, I was somewhat supportive of shutting down greyhound racing. However as further evidence, or rather lack thereof, came to light regarding the ACT club, I switched to supporting it continuing. I find the idea of dogs or horses or cars racing around a track uninteresting, but understand some people like it and its not for me to pass judgement on their personal interests. I think the ACT Labor-Greens government was absolutely wrong to ban it, but I doubt its an issue that really has much resonance amongst the broader community either way. While I’m sure people involved in greyhound racing appreciate Mark Parton’s efforts, I wonder if his party’s future would have been better served by him spending more time on the issue of the government taking community facility zoned land to build replacement public housing for that lost due to the tram.

Mark Parton MLA12:46 pm 01 Mar 18

Garfield, your’s is a familiar story. We’ve watched the public tide turn on this. The loud voices of the ‘Anti’s’ are still heard way above the general crowd, but we’ve certainly seen a shift in the attitude of many to this issue. In regard to the community facility zoned land, we’ve done a lot of work in this space, but ultimately on the floor of the chamber there’s 11 of us and 14 of them. We’ll continue to do whatever we can, but ultimately the electorate must make a decision in 2020 to allow us to have greater impact. I certainly hope that’s the case

With respect Mark, there’s a lot more you as the responsible shadow minister and the Liberal Party should have done to raise awareness in regards to community facilities land. From my perspective all you did was jump on the band wagon of outrage from people in the immediate vicinity of the developments and that was it. You did nothing to inform the rest of the community, most of whom have their heads in the sand in regards to ACT politics, as to why it was a bad thing. You have been at least 10 times more visible on the greyhounds than on this when the relative importance is the other way around. Maybe there were other things you wanted to do in the space and you didn’t have support from the leadership team. Maybe as a new MLA at the time you didn’t see the importance of it or know what else you could do. Whatever actually went on behind closed doors this was something the leader should have identified as a major issue, and opportunity for the party, and had it up there just one step below the stinking land swap deal. Instead he and some other senior Liberal MLA’s seemed to take the attitude that they could take it easy for a year after losing in 2016. You talk about the electorate needing to allow you to have a greater impact, but your Party needs to give them reasons to vote Liberal, and this was a huge missed opportunity.

Mark Parton MLA8:59 pm 01 Mar 18

I appreciate your personal perspective on this and I take it on board. With respect, I’ve only been the Planning Shadow for 3 weeks. It was a little outside of my remit last year. I’ve worked extremely hard in all of my portfolios areas and in working for constituents in my electorate. Some things that I’ve done in the public space have received more traction than others, which is not always reflective of the work that has gone into those things.

Where did Community Values come from? Where are his siblings?

You hav created a specific case of hand crafted cherry-picking, which does nothing to address the issues of animal cruelty in the wider greyhound racing community. You have one dog, you aren’t breeding dogs to race. You trained one dog, not a litter. You race one dog, not a collection. You got lucky with one dog, rather than having to race a dozen before finding one that would place first or second. You have not had to face the prospect of rehoming a dog when the community already has enough greyhounds. You haven’t had to figure out what to do with dozens of animals that aren’t earning their keep.

You are running a stunt, not a racing industry.

Community Values is an exceptional dog for many reasons, and using this stunt to make a statement about the greyhound racing industry at large is pretty bone headed, even by your standards.

Not as bone headed as it is to believe racing dogs should be banned because of the actions of a few idiots in another state.
Why cant Mark cherry pick if the opposition are allowed to?
Talk about a flawed argument.

Mark Parton MLA5:05 pm 01 Mar 18

So….you’re suggesting that anyone who purchases an animal from anyone should do a family tree check on said animal so that they can account for that animals siblings ? I have no idea where it’s siblings are. Nugget was purchased from rural Victoria. Ramsay and Barr were, at the time suggesting that greyhound racing was ‘out of step with community values in the ACT.’ The formation of the Community Values syndicate was to establish that there were many Canberrans who would get on board a concept like this and put their money on the table….instantly. And they did. I understand the symbolism of Community Values, but that symbolism gives some people hope. And as for rehoming….the fight will be between the 20 syndicate members because most them want to keep him when he’s done.

The regulations and regulators are the ones supposed to deal with the issues you raise and there are perfectly reasonable ways for them to implement controls that cover the risks of animal cruelty in the sport.

You’re right, Mark isn’t running the sport or dealing with the issues, but it seems like the Government doesn’t want to do their job either which is why they’ve cravenly bowed to the Greens pressure.
Knowing that they can still receive the money from gambling on the sport, without it costing them too much politically as there aren’t that many participants in the ACT.

I think people might think differently if the government started treating other industries in the same manner.

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