What is the impact of greyhound racing on the community of Western Australia?

Contributed by Free the Hounds, W.A.

 

In the lead up to the WA state election we have been running a campaign to highlight the impact greyhound racing has on the community; on the army of volunteer rescuers and foster carers throughout the state who save, rehabilitate, and rehome hundreds of greyhounds discarded by the racing industry each year. In addition to our campaign, we have been holding regular market stalls with the aim of educating the general public on the reality of greyhound racing, its absolute incompatibility with modern animal welfare standards and the unacceptable use of government funds enabling this. In holding these events we have engaged with thousands of people and it has become patently clear that this is indeed an important political issue for the people of Perth.

The ongoing government funding of greyhound racing is not supported by the wider public who are rightly outraged at their state government for continuing to prop up this cruel industry. Claims that greyhound racing is self funded are simply not true. WA greyhound racing is reliant on the government money it receives. Its primary source of income is distributions provided by RWWA from profits generated by the government owned TAB [1, 2]. In 2015, distributions amounted to $15.8 million dollars [3], while over the same period the industry was responsible for the deaths of 527 innocent greyhounds [4, 5]. In 2016 distributions increased by over 8% to $17.2 million [6], while the government cried poor and announced a 1.5% limit to pay rises for public servants, like police and teachers [7].

WA greyhound racing provides no net financial benefit to the government. The government admitted that the wagering tax it received from WA greyhound racing over the 2011-12 financial year was just $1.8 million whilst in that same year the WA greyhound racing industry received government money of $13.5 million! [8]

Recently the government announced combined funding of $200,000 a year to six animal welfare [9] groups on top of the $500,000 it gives to RSPCA WA annually. Premier Colin Barnett said the funding was part of the Liberal-National government’s ongoing “commitment to animal welfare”. So its commitment to animal welfare amounts to $700,000 a year but its commitment to the cruel greyhound racing industry is $15.8 million dollars a year! Considering the government supported a parliamentary inquiry into RSPCA WA [10]with little apparent basis yet doesn’t consider any inquiry into the greyhound [11] racing industry, it seems clear its “commitment to animal welfare” is little more than lip service.

Our state government must weigh up the pros and cons of this industry. A minority’s hobby and the financial ‘benefit’ to the state government is simply not worth the animal cruelty inherent to this industry and the burden it places on hundreds of volunteers throughout WA who work tirelessly to rescue and rehabilitate ex-racing greyhounds.

We call on our elected representatives to review the financial situation of the WA greyhound racing industry and consider cutting its funding. ACT is leading the way, thanks to the help of the Greens, the Labor government in the ACT recently agreed to stop the government funding of the ACT greyhound industry saving $1 million a year in government-funded cruelty. Imagine what our government could do with an extra $17 million a year.

The struggle of this industry to survive in a modern progressive society is clear. The business model can no longer sustain itself in the face of an ever-intensifying public awakening and ensuing higher societal expectation of modern animal welfare standards. State governments that continue to sanction this barbaric enterprise with high social, moral, and financial costs, will no doubt find themselves on the wrong side of history in years to come.

If you are sick of your government funding greyhound cruelty over police, health & education then take action. With the state election upon us it is vital you put forth these points and questions to your local members and candidates. Email them, call them, ask to meet with them face to face and tell them what they need to do to get your vote. On 11 March 2017 make your vote count, demand better from your government and give greyhounds a voice.

We will end our campaign with a rally at the Esplanade Park in Fremantle on March 5. Please attend to send a clear message to our members and candidates that greyhound racing in WA must end. Invite your local members and candidates.

Sources

1. Colin Barnett – 4 May 2016 – http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-04/barnett-rules-out-lead-role-for-racing-industry-tab-sale/7384152 “It’s a government asset and the Government will sell it.”

2. Mike Nahan – 18 May 2016 – http://www.smh.com.au/business/western-australia-rift-over-tab-selloff-20160513-gouf7z.htm “The public of West Australia own that asset and the government who represents the public will make the decision and undertake the sale.”

3.Western Australian Greyhound Racing Association Annual Report 2014-2015 page 14 (http://www.greyhoundswa.com.au/files/2014/10/WAGRAAnnualReport2014-15-Web.pdf)

4. Western Australia Legislative Assembly 2016a. Question on Notice: Greyhound Racing Industry. 10 May, 2652. Lisa Baker; Terry Redman. (http://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/Hansard/hansard.nsf/0/1DE122BF8580E4CD482580C0000E3F67/$File/A39%20S1%2020160510%20All.pdf)

5. Western Australian Greyhound Racing Association Annual Report 2015-2016 page 17 (http://www.greyhoundswa.com.au/files/2014/10/WAGRA-Annual-Report-2015-16.pdf

6. Public Sector Wages Policy Statement 2016 number 3. (https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/atoms/files/cda_2_of_2016_-_ps_wages_policy_statement.pdf)

7. “Wagering tax to the state government on all greyhound racing for 2011–12 was $11.2 million, of which $1.8 million was generated on greyhound races held in WA.” Norman Moore – Hansard – 29 November 2012 http://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/Hansard/hansard.nsf/0/21DF8336A44708B648257AFC0028BB24/$File/C38%20S1%2020121129%20All.pdf

 8. Western Australian Greyhound Racing Association Annual Report 2011-2012 page 13 http://www.greyhoundswa.com.au/files/2014/10/WAGRA_Annual_Report_2011-2012.pdf

9. https://www.mediastatements.wa.gov.au/Pages/Barnett/2012/12/Funding-to-help-cat-and-dog-shelters.aspx

10. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-13/rspca-parliamentary-inquiry-to-proceed-in-wa/6451630

11. https://www.markmcgowan.com.au/news/government-must-act-on-news-of-mass-greyhound-dumping-872

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