Govt not reading room on racing

• Melissa Harrison, president of Free the Hounds

IN this week’s Speaker’s Corner, greyhound welfare advocate Melissa Harrison from Free the Hounds tells us the Covid-era has seen a surge of betting that’s brought a huge spike in the greyhound racing industry’s turnover, and now the largest e-petition ever signed by WA residents has been lodged to stop greyhound racing.

 THE largest e-petition ever signed by WA residents has just closed, with more than 13,000 people calling upon the government to ban greyhound racing.

These petitioners have requested WA’s government to:

• release greyhound racing from the sale of the TAB, and ban greyhound racing;

• allow a two-year phase out of the industry — there are only 20 West Australians who derive the majority of their income from this blood sport, so phasing it out is very achievable; 

• assist industry participants in re-skilling; 

• rehome all greyhounds; and, 

• approve four breeders to continue as registered breeders for greyhounds as pets only.

Our state government ‘talks the talk’ about animal welfare, but it’s yet to ‘walk the walk’. Yet this state could lead Australia in getting rid of this cruel activity.

What our government  needs to understand is how far behind public sentiment it is lagging. All surveys of the general population about public attitudes to greyhound racing show most Australians do not want it to continue. 

RSPCA WA says: “RSPCA WA does not support greyhound racing due to the numerous animal welfare issues associated with the sport”. 

Moreover, Australians are not just concerned about greyhounds. 

The RSPCA canvassed attitudes to animal welfare prior to the 2021 WA election. 

More than 70 per cent of Western Australians, whether they live in suburbia, on rural properties or in regional towns, say animal welfare is important or extremely important to them.

So why are our politicians lagging on dog racing reform? 

There’s one simple answer. 

They’re addicted to betting revenue. 

And did you know that they give millions of our taxpayer dollars to prop up a dying industry which kills and injures greyhounds each time they race?

Can premier Mark McGowan and racing minister Tony Buti wean themselves and their fellow pollies off their ugly need for the next financial ‘fix’? 

Their response to this e-petition will reveal if they care about more than money.

Meanwhile, here’s the dirty reality of what’s going on — new research by the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds (CPG) has just revealed:

• the Australian dog racing industry has flat-lined for the last three years on re-homing its dogs, yet the industry’s turnover has spiked due to Covid-era punting; and,

• meanwhile, Australia’s greyhound racing industry continues to breed six times the dogs it can rehome —this is another good reason for all state governments to divert our dollars to re-homing ex-racers, instead of propping up this ongoing cruelty.

It’s a national disgrace for an industry with a national turnover of $9.4b for the financial year 2020-21 to fail in re-homing all of its dogs, as well as to breed excessively. 

They’ve proven they’re irresponsible and out of step with most Australians’ views on animal welfare. 

It’s time for urgent change.

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