Statement from the Commissioner

In response to public comments made about the Commission’s animal welfare responsibilities

The responsibilities of the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) are set out in the Racing Integrity Act and it is important for public confidence in the Commission to point out some relevant facts surrounding the 7.30 Report program aired on 17 October 2019. 

The Commission has legislative responsibility for the welfare of animals only while they are involved in the three codes of racing but not after they are retired.

The welfare of retired animals always remains the responsibility of the owner, not taxpayer-funded agencies. The Commission also has no authority, jurisdiction or responsibility for the operations of abattoirs.  The operations of these facilities are oversighted by both the Commonwealth Government and the State Department of Agriculture and Fisheries who manage animal welfare complaints and investigations.

Since commencement in July 2016 the Commission has never received a single complaint about the treatment of retired racehorses inside the Caboolture facility and if we had the Commission would have had no jurisdiction to investigate or intervene. 

We did receive several complaints about the conditions under which retired horses were transported from interstate and those were referred for investigation by the appropriate agencies including the RSPCA who concluded that no laws had been breached. We also received information that retired racehorses had been sent to the facility. 

Horse owners are entitled to sell their animals for slaughter and in the cases we investigated the owners had met all of their reporting obligations under the Australian Rules of Racing.   

The Commission does more than it is obliged to do, but not as much as we aspire to do, to promote rehoming and better the welfare generally for retired racing horses.  Our Animal Welfare Strategy sets outs our aspirational goals in this important area.

The Commission created the first Queensland Equine Welfare Program in 2017 and this year the inaugural Racing Animal Welfare grants program to support individuals and groups who deliver rehoming and retraining for retired racing horses.

A better future for these animals will be found by focussing on what we can all do better in this space rather than promoting and adopting completely false public assertions regarding complaints we did not receive,  involving an abattoir we have no jurisdiction over,  and concerning the treatment of animals who are beyond our authority.

Ross Barnett

Queensland Racing Integrity Commissioner