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Speech: Jumps Racing Ban Passes Upper House

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (18:13): I remain constantly surprised by this place. I thank all members who contributed to this debate. I think it has been an unnecessarily protracted and frustrating one over many years. We are seeing the last vestiges of jumps racing supporters put up an increasingly shameful and dishonest campaign to try to stop what I think is actually inevitable.

Indeed, as I have just noted to a journalist on ABC radio, Victoria and South Australia are the only places that still run jumps racing in this nation, I have to say, simply because people want their so-called entertainment. We really must get real and recognise that the Law Society has recognised this for the cruelty that it is.

The data from this jumps season in Victoria is a sobering reminder of just how much more dangerous jumps races are compared with flat racing, even when measures are taken and introduced to make them supposedly safer. This season alone up to 8 June, there have been 11 race meetings with 39 jumps races and 56 flat races in those meetings in Victoria. While there were more flat than jumps races, 11 horses fell in jumps races while not a single one fell in the flat races.

Those safety measures certainly have not proved to be effective in Victoria. At least two jumps horses have died in jumps racing in Victoria this season, and there have been no deaths from flat races in Victoria this season. That is 11 race meetings with jumps racing and, on average, 11 falls—one fall per race per meeting, despite their safety measures being introduced.

At least 76 horses in South Australia and Victoria have died as a result of jumps race injuries between 2009 and 2021, and I say 'at least' because the death toll is believed to be much higher because the industry has not been compelled to publicly report all associated injuries and deaths. Of course, this does not even touch on how many horses fail to finish races or knuckle and stumble during jumps races. We know that these figures are not complete. Frankly, the industry does not seem that interested in true accountability and transparency.

The 2016 South Australian parliamentary Select Committee on Jumps Racing found that jumps racing is significantly more dangerous for horses and riders than flat racing. That is what it found. It produced 28 recommendations in a report that gave the sector three years—that is, until 2019, and it is now 2022—to fix the key animal welfare and transparency issues. The recommendations also found that jumps racing is significantly more dangerous for horses and riders than flat racing.

The transparency recommendations focused on increasing the data captured and ensuring that it was accessible and reported in a way that enabled further analysis, for instance, showing the link between races, injuries, deaths and final outcomes for horses after becoming what is called 'non-viable' for racing and being listed as retired. Currently, there is little information published to identify whether jumps horses that are retired are retrained, euthanised or sent to slaughter.

The recommendations also encouraged the sector to increase investment in injury prevention and treatment, horse retraining and rehoming. Unfortunately, again, there is little evidence to suggest that these recommendations have been implemented. The sector does not publish lifetime information for each horse. Injuries and deaths in training and trials are not always reported. The impact of non-fatal injuries from colliding, knuckling, etc., is rarely reported.

Horse deaths after race day are rarely counted as having resulted from a race, although they often have. There is little evidence of research into the factors that contribute to horses failing to finish races or the publication of safety action plans. There is still no requirement for injured horses that mask their injuries on race day, which is normal for prey animals, to receive follow-up vet assessments following race day.

I see no space for this industry in modern South Australia. It is well past time we joined with almost the entirety of the rest of Australia, other than Victoria, and provided certainty with regard to ending animal cruelty in this state and, for that matter, certainty to the racing industry itself. I have long said that jumps racing forms something around 1 per cent of the industry, but it certainly provides about 99 per cent of not only the bad publicity but the harm to the industry in so many ways other than just the horses. With that, I commend the bill.

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