Greens submission to Greyhound Racing Act review

Abigail and Greens NSW Senator Mehreen Faruqi compiled a submission to the NSW Government's statutory review of the Greyhound Racing Act 2017.

Read the submission in full below.

Greyhound Racing Act Review

Submission from The Greens NSW

The Greens NSW do not support the greyhound racing industry. The evidence shows it is inherently cruel, and no level of regulation will uphold standards of animal welfare. The industry pressured the Government into reversing their ban by pleading for a last chance. On their own measures, they have failed.

Rehoming target missed
Rehoming responsibilities should be taken from Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) and placed with the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission (GWIC). It was noted during the 2017 debate on the Bill that GRNSW had not been successful at fulfilling its responsibilities, and the Government was warned that GRNSW was not the best organisation to take on those responsibilities in the future. An amendment to move rehoming responsibilities to GWIC was voted down by the Government. 

GRNSW has failed to meet its own rehoming targets. Its Strategic Plan 2018-21 included “as a key measure rehoming 1,000 greyhounds per year within the next 3 years through GAP (Greyhounds as Pets) and 1,500 through other rehoming providers”. Yet the GWIC Annual Report 2018-19 notes that just 249 dogs were accepted through GAP, and 390 were accepted through another rescue or adoption agency. Based on those numbers, GRNSW achieved only 26 per cent of its rehoming target in 2018-19. This can only be considered an abject failure. 


Deaths and retirements not reported

There is much anecdotal evidence that tracking and reporting is not effective for the whole life cycle. There is also evidence in GWIC’s own numbers that not all greyhounds are being accounted for. The GWIC Annual Report 2018-19 notes that since 2011-12, there have been 45,592 reported whelpings. On average, that is 5,699 whelpings per year over eight years. Yet the report only notes 1435 retirements and 832 deaths in 2018-19. Our suspicion is that many more dogs have been retired or have died than has been officially reported, and that GRNSW is not meeting the requirements of its operating licence. The Government should appoint an independent investigator to address these discrepancies.


Whole-of-life tracking

GWIC is currently not tracking greyhounds that are claimed to be put on the Companion Animals Register and owned by non-industry participants. This makes a mockery of the Government’s claim that a “whole-of-life-cycle register” is maintained.  The Act should be amended to ensure that GWIC is obligated to continue tracking all greyhounds, including when they are owned by non-industry participants.


Greyhound Industry Reform Panel recommendations

The Panel made a number of recommendations that have been inadequately addressed by the Act and 2020 Code of Practice.  We draw attention to two recommendations that have not been addressed at all. The first is the requirement for a ‘puppy bond’ to be imposed. GRNSW has argued that a bond is an essential measure to control breeding and promote the welfare of greyhounds. The second recommendation is to ensure the breeder is made responsible for the welfare of each pup until ownership is transferred. This is a significant accountability gap for the thousands of pups born each year.


Breeding caps and “wastage”

The Greens remain highly concerned that there is no cap or target on greyhound breeding in New South Wales. This was identified as a key issue in ensuring that over-breeding and ‘wastage’ is minimised. The law should be amended to mandate a breeding cap. 

Following the Government’s short-lived commitment to ban greyhound racing in 2016, greyhound breeders and the NSW Greyhound Racing Industry Alliance committed to “a controlled breeding programme including the immediate restriction of 2000 greyhounds annually for NSW racing purposes” as part of its “absolute guarantee”. The terms of reference for the then-Premier’s Greyhound Industry Reform Panel, established in October 2016, included consideration of these industry reform guarantees. While this Panel did not recommend a hard breeding cap in its February 2017 final report, it stated that “additional options for breeding controls and other total lifecycle management initiatives, including a target date for achieving zero unnecessary euthanasia, should be considered in two years informed by more robust data”.

Three and a half years have now passed, and no further breeding controls have been introduced. In 2017, then-MLC Dr Mehreen Faruqi moved an amendment to the Greyhound Racing Bill that would have mandated an annual breeding cap of 2,000 greyhounds. This was voted down, with the Government stating “the Government has committed to revisiting the breeding cap in two years when more reliable data is available. The framework set up through the bill, the regulations and the code of practice also will establish a range of measures to put downward pressure on overbreeding.” 

The evidence clearly shows that too many dogs are being bred. GWIC is in fact promoting increased breeding, such as through a 2019 media release welcoming a 22 per cent increase in breeding (“Latest breeding statistics a good sign for the greyhound racing industry”, 25 September 2019). Breeding is currently well above the original proposed breeding cap. This is completely unsustainable and the government must urgently introduce a breeding cap.


Please do not hesitate to contact our offices for further information.

Sincerely,

 

Abigail Boyd MLC

Greens NSW spokesperson for Animal Welfare


Senator Mehreen Faruqi

Australian Greens spokesperson for Animal Welfare

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