Queensland announces inquiry into welfare of retired racehorses

The Premier has announced an urgent inquiry into the treatment of retired racehorses and animal welfare concerns in dealing with retired racehorses at Queensland abattoirs.

Speaking in Parliament, the Premier said her government was taking this action after vision of retired racehorses being mistreated at a Queensland abattoir aired on the 7.30 program last Thursday.

“This was deeply disturbing, horrendous footage and I was just as appalled to witness it,” the Premier said.

“I know that my Minister for Agriculture along with my Minister for Racing have spoken to many racing industry figures in the past few days and they have all been deeply concerned about the allegations of animal abuse that surfaced.

“My government stands with the many industry figures who love their racing animals and, like them, I want to make sure we leave no stone unturned to stamp out animal cruelty.”

The Premier said the independent inquiry would be overseen by the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission which is the independent watchdog charged, in part, with safeguarding the welfare of racing animals during their racing career.

“It is a necessary inquiry to provide Queenslanders with confidence that the racing industry is doing everything possible to ensure the welfare of horses,” the Premier said.

“This inquiry will determine what more we can do to make sure that we have the best possible processes in place to end cruelty to animals in Queensland.”

Minister for Racing, Multicultural Affairs and Local Government Stirling Hinchliffe said the inquiry would be headed up by retired District Court judge Terry Martin SC with the support of equine veterinary surgeon and Australian Veterinary Association representative Dr Peter Reid.

“Both Mr Martin and Dr Reid have extensive experience in their respective fields and will bring a wealth of personal and professional knowledge to their roles in the inquiry,” he said.

“I want to make sure that no stone is left unturned to restore the faith people quite rightly have in our racing industry.”

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said animal welfare was everybody’s responsibility and Queensland would not stand for cruelty to animals.

“That is why Queensland has the toughest animal cruelty laws in Australia, including penalties of up to seven years’ jail for the most serious offences,” he said.

“Further to this, Biosecurity Queensland investigators visited the abattoir on Friday and their investigation is ongoing.”

The inquiry will also engage the expertise of the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and is expected to report back to Ministers Hinchliffe and Furner early next year.

The inquiry will examine:

  • The regulatory and oversight arrangements for the management of retired racehorses.
  • The regulatory and oversight arrangements for the operation of facilities accepting horses for slaughter.
  • The adequacy of arrangements for detecting, assessing, mitigating and prosecuting breaches of the welfare of retired racing horses, including those moved from interstate.
  • Comparative assessment of arrangements in other states.
  • Any changes required in oversight of the tracking and welfare of retired horses.

Inquiry Terms of Reference


Media contact:                        

Zoe Russell – 0439 982 347 (Premier’s office)

Ron Goodman – 0427 781 920 (Minister Furner)

Bernadette Condren – 0417 296 116 (Minister Hinchliffe)