An open letter to the greyhound industry and the public, in the wake of the NSW decision to ban greyhound racing

Like you – I was appalled by the live-baiting issues that came to light after the Four Corners report in 2015. Abuse of racing animals has no place in our society, and I am glad to be on the frontline to eliminate it in the Queensland racing industry.

The Queensland Government was the first in Australia to act following the exposure of the live baiting cases, putting the local greyhound racing industry on notice that animal cruelty will never be tolerated. The resulting MacSporran report from the Greyhound Commission of Inquiry made 15 recommendations, which have either been implemented or are being implemented.

The separation of the animal welfare and integrity components of the sport from the commercial arm is now complete, resulting in the creation of the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC), which I’m proud to be heading up.

As Commissioner of QRIC, I want to assure the community that we are taking every possible step to stop live-baiting and mistreatment of racing animals. This is one of our primary activities at the Commission – and the industry needs to get on board. In this work we have strong support from the industry leaders and the vast majority of participants who love their animals and have done nothing wrong.

The future of greyhound racing in Queensland will only be viable if we embrace change, eradicate cruelty and maintain public confidence.

The QRIC takes a zero tolerance approach to racing animal cruelty offences. The Government has given us the resources, and the powers to effectively police the industry and we will do so across the State.  Authorised Officers have powers to make no-notice inspections of Queensland training facilities and kennels, and we also have a team of police officers dedicated to investigating allegations of cruelty.

I believe that the industry can be regulated more effectively. We are committed to following each greyhound bred for racing through to retirement, to ensure animals aren’t disposed of unnecessarily.

We also run the Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP Qld), for ex-racing greyhounds that need forever homes. The Queensland public has strongly embraced this program, which has seen 329 per cent growth from July 2015 to now. Adoption rates are well up, with 245 Greyhounds given new homes homes via the GAP system in 2015/10, compared to 57 the previous financial year.

We will screen all applicants to the sport carefully through our tough licensing process; and if you have been involved in any aspect of animal cruelty in Australia, you won’t be allowed to race in Queensland.

I want live baiters to know – if you come to the attention of the Commission – we will go after you with everything we have at our disposal. If you are selfish, and stupid enough, to continue to engage in live-baiting – be clear that you face a likely jail sentence, life time disqualification from the industry; and your actions could contribute to the downfall of the entire industry.

Working together as a community to stop animal cruelty is the only way we will be successful. If you know of any racing animal welfare issues I urge you to report them through our website.

Ross Barnett
Queensland Racing Integrity Commission