ANIMAL WELFARE (JUMPS RACING) AMENDMENT BILL
Introduction and First Reading
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:58): Obtained leave and introduced a bill for an act to amend the Animal Welfare Act 1985. Read a first time.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:59): I move:
That this bill be now read a second time.
This is not the first time that I have brought this bill before this place. Indeed, it is the third time I have brought this bill before this place, but this is a new parliament and this is a new day. Indeed, today is the Horses' Birthday: 1 August is, in the Southern Hemisphere, the Horses' Birthday, and I bring this bill before this place to wish jumps racing horses many happy returns.
In New South Wales, back in 1997, it became a criminal offence, through legislative reform, to ban jumps racing. In WA, they have not had a jumps race for some 70 years. In Tasmania, it is over a decade since they have had a jumps race. In the ACT and the Northern Territory, there never really was a factor of jumps racing as a major part of the racing scene. Queensland actually abolished jumps racing in 1903, well over 100 years ago. South Australia has a long way to go to catch up. It is only our jurisdiction and Victoria that still see jumps racing taking place. In 1991, a federal Senate select committee on animal welfare recommended the phasing out of jumps racing in all states over the consequent three years, yet here we are.
Sadly, many key decision-makers in many jurisdictions—our jurisdiction being one—have ignored this recommendation, and today we see, to our shame, South Australia and Victoria standing as the last two jurisdictions to still hold jumps racing events. Of course, South Australia now has an opportunity to rectify this error.
It is an error that perpetuates animal cruelty. That is not just my opinion or the opinion of the Greens, or indeed the opinion of the RSPCA, although it is all of those things, it is also the opinion of the Law Society. In their advice to my previous bill, which replicates this bill that I introduce today, the Law Society provided advice that stated that they believed it would be a useful piece of legislation because it would clarify what they already believed to be an illegal act under the Animal Welfare Act; that is, the practice of jumps racing.
They already believe that jumps racing is in contravention of the Animal Welfare Act, that it is a cruel practice and that it is likely to be illegal, but it is difficult to prosecute these issues. So my bill, if passed, would simply make what the Law Society, the Greens, the RSPCA and many in our community—indeed, some 80 per cent in terms of opinion polls—already believe to be a clear breach of the law. Jumps racing has a very small part to play in the South Australian racing industry. Indeed, the South Australian Jockey Club has come out previously to say that they do not want jumps racing at Morphettville. Indeed, Morphettville remains the only metropolitan location for jumps racing in the country. Of course, in the last month it was the scene of yet another horse death on the track.
In terms of that legal advice, it would clarify once and for all that jumps racing is illegal. Certainly, as I raised in question time today, the RSPCA (the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) should be given the powers it needs to prevent cruelty to animals under the Animal Welfare Act. At the moment, our act does not allow that preventative remedy. So here we have a bill that would resolve that issue.
Since 2009, at least 18 horses are known to have died in South Australia on our tracks as a result of jumps racing. The true death toll is believed to be higher. Horses that die at trials are not added to the official statistics. Indeed, the number of jumps races that take place in this state is so small as to mean that the number of deaths, while it might seem to some to be quite low, is in fact proportionately quite concerning.
A University of Melbourne study found that jumps racing is 19 times deadlier than flats racing. To put that in context, if jumps racing deaths were to occur in the same way as flats racing, as in each flats racing meeting that would be held, it would see a horse die on the track each and every time a flats race meeting were held. The public outcry would be extreme and enormous. In terms of the future of racing, this bill proposes a ban.
What I would say—and I would be echoed by many of the 1,811 submissions to the previous select committee on jumps racing—is that if there is not a ban, people will vote with their feet. Sponsors have already started to pull out their support, and Morphettville itself recognises that their brand is damaged by the presence of jumps racing. That is why the SAJC has previously indicated that they do not wish to see jumps racing in the metropolitan area of South Australia into the future.
I introduce this bill today in the middle of the jumps racing season. As I note, it is quite small but it has two months to run. However, today, being Horses' Birthday, I thought they deserved a present. Many happy returns to those jumps racing horses that I hope will not die into the future. This bill would provide for a ban a year after its assent that would save those horses' lives into the future. To counterclaims that those who support this ban would see those horses die at the knackery instead, I do know that many rescue groups already take these horses, these horses that are often rejected by the industry when they do not make a profit for their current owners.
The trainers and jockeys in jumps racing do not comprise a major part of the racing industry in this state; in fact, no full-time jockeys or trainers would exist in this part of the industry. Indeed, there are transition arrangements that could be made to ensure not just the welfare of those animals, not just the increased safety in the workplace of the jockeys, but, of course, the reputation of the racing industry overall. While jumps racing probably accounts for a very small proportion of the industry in South Australia, it pretty much accounts for 99 per cent of the bad publicity that they receive. With those few words, I commend the bill to the house.
Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. T.J. Stephens.