ACT News


Shane Rattenbury calls for a ban on greyhound racing in the ACT

ACT Greens parliamentarian Shane Rattenbury is calling for a ban on greyhound racing in Canberra and an end to the $1 million in government subsidies to the industry each year.

"Greyhound racing is an outdated industry that promotes the exploitation of dogs, endorses cruelty to animals and encourages problem gambling," Mr Rattenbury said, calling for the ban at a rally at Glebe Park on Sunday.

The public would be "appalled" to know that the government was subsidising such an "inhumane and unethical" industry to the tune of $1 million a year, he said.

Mr Rattenbury holds the balance of power in the ACT parliament, with the Labor government relying on his vote to stay in power. He said the Greens membership was pushing for the ban, and he would now take it to cabinet to try to persuade Labor.

He would also consider a private member's bill and said he wanted the issue dealt with before the election if possible.


Given his crucial role in the Labor Government, Mr Rattenbury has the power to force decisions, but he said his approach was to use persuasion rather than "the nuclear option" of felling the government to get his way.

"It's a matter of convincing colleagues that these are the right steps to take to deal with this," he said. "What we want to eliminate is the profit side of greyhound racing, which is what drives these unethical practices in my view."

He had been shocked and disgusted by the "profound cruelty" of live baiting uncovered in last year's ABC's Four Corners investigation into the industry.

"The industry was exposed using live piglets, possums and rabbits – tying them up, flinging them around a racetrack and eventually letting them get mauled," he said.

"This is an industry that breeds and disposes of dogs as if they are rubbish – with pits holding hundreds of dead greyhounds found in areas of NSW."

Australia was one of only eight countries left in the world with a greyhound racing industry, and it was "time to exit that disgraceful group", he said.

Some of the subsidy money should be used to rehabilitate and re-home greyhounds and help people working in the industry to shift to other jobs.

Mr Rattenbury said the animal welfare industry group had told him there was no evidence of baiting among the 20 greyhound owners in Canberra. But many of the dogs that raced here came from NSW so "we can't say it's not our problem because the handful of owners we've got here are not involved".

Early last year, then racing minister Joy Burch said two suspended trainers had raced in the ACT, one from NSW and one from Victoria. But she was confident that there was "absolutely no baiting" in Canberra.

Mick Gentleman is now racing minister and in a statement on Sunday he said "current ACT government policy in this area is established". The government would continue to consult with the Labor membership, he said.

Liberals' racing spokesman Brendan Smyth said the party abhorred theabuse of animals but had no plans to ban greyhound racing in the ACT.

The RSPCA has also called for a ban and launched an online petition. With revelations that up to 17,000 greyhounds are killed in NSW each year, the group is concerned that unwanted dogs are now being dumped.

The Canberra Greyhound Racing Club has about 200 members. Last year, it said it would install a $30,000 security system to ensure no live baiting in Canberra.