22 March 2023, 10:55
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne
Rachel PAYNE (South-Eastern Metropolitan): I rise today in support of this motion to implement an electronic whole-of-life tracking system for Victoria’s racing greyhounds. I congratulate Ms Purcell on not only her passionate advocacy in this space but providing a voice for these beautiful animals. Since there is currently no whole-of-life tracking scheme for racing greyhounds, this system, if implemented sufficiently, will be a welcome Australian first. I applaud Minister Shing’s contribution earlier and the government’s commitment in principle to supporting this motion.
Greyhounds are gentle, docile couch potatoes. They have increased in popularity so dramatically that all of us would struggle to head out in our electorates without seeing multiple constituents walking their rescued friends. Yet greyhounds in the racing industry are not protected or afforded the same level of care or oversight as the dogs we deem companions. The New South Wales government funded and commenced implementation of eTrac in 2022, which aims to improve the ability of the monitoring body, the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission, to protect the welfare and integrity of the New South Wales greyhound-racing industry. There are still flaws in this system that fail greyhounds, and the Victorian government needs to ensure that it works with advocacy stakeholders to close those loopholes.
In Victoria there is no cap on the number of greyhounds that can be bred into the racing industry. Current industry figures from 2021–22 show that participants are breeding almost four times as many dogs as the industry is rehoming. This is creating a welfare crisis, with the industry’s own greyhound adoption program reporting a waiting list of nine months and community rescue groups reporting a waiting list of over six months. This has resulted in an increase in extreme cruelty, the killing of dogs and more recently illegal export to underground Chinese racing rings.
The greyhound industry in Victoria is partially funded through point-of-consumption tax charged by the Victorian government to wagering operators. Under the current POCT set-up, operators are liable for 10 per cent of net wagering revenue derived from customers located in Victoria. The government distributes 35 per cent of revenue collected under the POCT to the state’s racing industry each year, including the greyhound industry. The total amount of POCT given to Racing Victoria in the 2020–21 financial year was $25 million, of which $6.2 million was passed on to Greyhound Racing Victoria. Taxpayers deserve transparency from an industry they, through the government, so heavily support. Where an industry is supported to such an extent by the government, it is prudent that transparency, compliance and monitoring of the relevant rules and regulations go along with that.
As the popularity of greyhounds as pets increases, the welfare of greyhounds within the industry has been a growing community issue, and it makes perfect sense that we address this. Due to a lack of any electronic tracking system, there are currently significant data gaps, including on breeding, off-track injury, death and euthanasia. Notably, the number of young adult greyhounds in Victoria is unknown. This motion calls for the government to fund and implement a digital system to improve greyhound traceability through an automated whole-of-life tracking system modelled on the New South Wales government’s eTrac system, which requires participants to physically check in greyhounds via scanning technology periodically at particular milestones, such as birth, registration, vetting, races and retirement. An e-tracking system is the first step towards bringing Victoria into line with best practice, providing further transparency of greyhound welfare and taking action on illegal behaviour. I support this motion for better welfare outcomes for greyhounds, who are no different to any other dogs deemed companions.