Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has moved to abolish all racing boards in a bid for a “clean slate” following the greyhound industry’s animal cruelty scandal.
Ms Palaszczuk has told State Parliament she will act swiftly on the recommendations of the MacSporran Inquiry into the greyhound racing industry.
The inquiry found Racing Queensland failed to act on the “barbaric and repellent practices of live baiting”, operated “in an environment in which it could not adequately assess and deal with the risks to integrity and animal welfare”, and “dismally failed those animals it relies on for considerable profit”.
All boards associated with the racing industry — including the AllCodes Racing Industry Board, the Queensland Greyhound Racing Board, the Queensland Harness Racing Board and the Queensland Thoroughbred Racing Board — will be abolished.
“Today we are starting with a clean slate,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“My government has acted swiftly on the findings. These are vile allegations. They are among the most upsetting we have ever witnessed. In many ways it taints this industry not only for alleged past practices but into the future.
“The perception of the industry may have been dealt a terminal blow, particularly by the exposure of the horrific practice of live baiting.”
As a result of the inquiry, Darren Condon — the chief executive of Racing Queensland — will be asked to “show cause” as to why he deserves to remain in his job.
“An interim administrator will be seconded to Racing Queensland to ensure that day-to-day operations of racing are not jeopardised whilst this process occurs,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“Ultimate responsibility for the conduct of Racing Queensland lies with the board of that organisation. The Queensland All Codes Racing Industry Board has obligations under the Racing Act as the peak control body for the industry. As Mr MacSporran said yesterday, it is clear that Racing Queensland has failed and that starts with the boards.”
A new statutory authority will be established to oversee the integrity of the racing industry.
“All Queenslanders want a racing industry that is based on integrity and proper animal welfare,” Ms Palaszczuk said, “not one that is characterised by cruelty, dishonesty and at best dubious regulation and an environment in which there is a failure of simple compliance measures.
“My government will deliver that. Anyone who has taken part in acts of animal cruelty will be investigated thoroughly by police and will be brought to justice.”
Ms Palaszczuk thanked Animal Liberation Queensland, Animals Australia, the RSPCA, Queensland Police and animal welfare groups for the role they played in exposing the practices of the greyhound industry.
The Premier’s actions have been welcomed warmly by the RSPCA.
“Our State Government acted decisively right from the start and to be honest that was in stark contrast to the lack of any meaningful action from the NSW and Victorian governments,” said RSPCA Qld CEO Mark Townend.
“The Premier immediately set up a Commission of Inquiry and a joint RSPCA Qld –Qld Police Task force. Now, within hours of the Commission of Inquiry handing down its recommendations she has again shown true leadership and sacked the Racing Boards which will hopefully allow the industry to start again with a clean slate. They will hopefully lead to the industry being infinitely more accountable than it has been in the past. She has also promised to look closely at some realistic recommendations that could help alleviate the appalling wastage of animals who either don’t make the grade or have retired.
“We certainly commend the Government for acting quickly and being proactive. The results from the Police RSPCA Qld task force are disturbing and the Commission of Inquiry has proved that the industry needs a fairly drastic overhaul and it looks as though it’s going to get exactly that.”