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(l-r) Member for Lismore Thomas George (3rd from left front), Minister for Racing Paul Toole (centre) and Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis (5th from left front) met with the region’s greyhound racing industry representatives at the Lismore greyhound track. Image: Contributed

Minister speaks with greyhound clubs

(l-r) Member for Lismore Thomas George (3rd from left front), Minister for Racing Paul Toole (centre) and Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis (5th from left front) met with the region’s greyhound racing industry representatives at the Lismore greyhound track. Image: Contributed

Minister for Racing Paul Toole last week met with Northern Rivers’ greyhound racing clubs to discuss the industry’s future ahead of the NSW Government’s response to the recently released Greyhound Industry Reform Panel report.
He told the clubs’ representatives that “the NSW Government has made it very clear that we are giving the industry a fair go and a real chance for reform, but it’s important the industry meets community expectations.
“We are currently considering the 122 recommendations made by the reform panel,” he said.
Among the recommendations, there are five that address the re-homing of greyhounds and their welfare, “for their full natural life, including ensuring their suitability to be re-homed at any stage of their lives”.
The onus of responsibility and the cost of achieving this is placed upon the dogs’ owners and the industry’s governing “commercial entity” – recommendation 82 states: “All re-homing programs administered or funded by the commercial entity must use best practice to assess the compatibility of a greyhound with prospective owners before permanently re-homing them.”
Grafton Greyhound Racing Club’s president, John Corrigan, said this is achievable provided his industry gets a fair redistribution of the TAB revenue that is returned to the different types of racing: greyhound, thoroughbred and harness racing.
According to Mr Corrigan, greyhound racing generates 21.7 per cent of racing revenue in NSW, while harness and thoroughbred racing generate 11 per cent and 67.3 per cent, respectively.
However, the percentages distributed to the industry (after the government takes its share) for harness and thoroughbred racing are 17 per cent and 70 per cent, respectively.
“We get 13 per cent,” Mr Corrigan said, noting that the extra $30million the industry would receive if the distribution equated to the revenue generated by each racing type “would certainly cover a lot of the expenses” associated with the implementation of the recommendations.
“We discussed this with the minister and we appreciate we have to improve our standards for the public’s benefit and the animals’ benefit,” he said.
The reform panel’s report notes that the 2015-16 NSW re-homing initiative (GAP program) registered 324 adoptions compared to Victoria’s 895 adoptions.
These numbers fall well short of the numbers flagged in the NSW Government’s Greyhound Special Commission of Enquiry released in July 2016, which states: “Even by reducing the number of races to the minimum required for the industry to remain viable (593), at that wastage rate there would still be 2,000 to 4,000 dogs killed prior to reaching racing age each year.”
Mr Corrigan said these numbers would be reduced significantly by limiting the number of greyhounds bred in NSW and that “getting rid of back yard breeders would help improve the quality of dogs bred”.
“It’s for our [greyhound racing industry] benefit that this is happening; we don’t want to see any more reports like the one on Four Corners [in February 2015],” he said.
Meanwhile, Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis, who crossed the floor last year and voted against banning the industry, said that the reform panel has recommended a governance structure that separates commercial and regulatory functions by establishing a Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission with broad investigative powers.
“It also supports an enforceable code of practice for greyhound welfare, whole-of-life registration and tracking of dogs so their whereabouts are known, licensing and accreditation requirements for all industry participants, and restrictions on the keeping of small animals on properties where greyhounds are kept,” he said.
Mr Gulaptis encouraged people to consider the report’s findings “before the government prepares a package of legislation to implement the new regime and repeal the Greyhound Racing Prohibition Act”.
“The greyhound racing industry is an important part of framing who we are in regional NSW,” he said.
“We love our dogs, we love a punt, we are battlers and we deserve a go.”
The panel’s report can be found at www.racing.justice.nsw.gov.au/Pages/greyhound-racing-nsw.aspx.

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