18 August 2022

$6m grant for Goulburn greyhound track revives animal welfare debate

| Sally Hopman
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Greyhounds racing

Goulburn’s greyhound racing industry has received a $6 million boost from the NSW Government to upgrade facilities. But according to one animal welfare group, no one will be a winner. Photo: File.

The debate over greyhound racing has fired up again with the announcement this week that more than $6 million will be spent upgrading the Goulburn Greyhound Racing Track to a “state-of-the-art” level.

Greyhound racing in the neighbouring nation’s capital was banned in 2018 with the then ACT attorney-general, Gordon Ramsay, saying at the time that more than 94 per cent of the greyhounds raced in Canberra came from NSW where “live baiting” and “wastage” had marred the industry’s reputation.

Since then, many greyhound rescue groups have sprung up, including some operating from greyhound racing clubs, designed to find the animals safe new homes once their careers, which can last as briefly as three years, end.

This includes Greyhound Racing NSW which runs a not-for-profit group, Greyhounds As Pets, which began in the Illawarra in 2019. The brainchild of the Shoalhaven Greyhound Racing Club, the program was designed to introduce the animals to the general public as the quiet, affectionate animals they can be, post-racing. This rehoming program was then used as a model for other greyhound adoption groups, including in the ACT. The Canberra Greyhound Racing Club is still active, but races at Goulburn.

READ ALSO Greyhound racing activists call to close Goulburn’s oval track

Announcing plans to upgrade the Goulburn facility this week, NSW Minister for Hospitality and Racing Kevin Anderson said the NSW Government was working with Greyhound Racing NSW on the track upgrade to “transform Goulburn into a state-of-the-art facility and provide a huge boost for industry in southern NSW”.

“Now that the concept plans have been finalised, Greyhound Racing NSW will continue to progress the project and put shovels in the ground as soon as possible,” Mr Anderson said.

“The Goulburn upgrade would also see the installation of floodlighting, allowing the facility to host night racing for the first time and an upgrade of the existing round track with improved cornering and running surface for racing and trialling.”

Straight racetracks, which are considered to be safer for the dogs than the curved or round tracks, will be installed at Goulburn.

Member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman said: “Upgrades to our track will bring people to town and provide better facilities for our local trainers. I welcome this announcement which will allow Goulburn to hold better races in conditions that are focused on animal welfare.”

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But the director at the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds (CPG), Kylie Field, told Region the Goulburn proposal was little short of “disgusting”.

“What they’re doing is using $6 million of taxpayers’ money for a dog-killing track,” she said. “This is government-sanctioned animal abuse.”

Ms Field said trainers were still breeding greyhounds at a rapid rate, but there were few if any checks on what happened to them post racing.

She said such rescue groups did their best but it would be impossible for anyone to rehome all the greyhounds out there now.

“It’s like the wild west,” she said. “Thousands of dogs die in Australia each year, hundreds in NSW alone.”

CPG uses figures from race stewards to track the number of greyhound racing deaths. Its latest data indicates that three greyhounds die in Australia from racing every week, with 28 injured. NSW is the deadliest state with 31 greyhound deaths already reported so far this year.

Ms Field questioned the value of such a facility to the people of Goulburn, saying regardless of whether the dogs ran on a straight or a curved track, it was still a “killing track”.

“I would have thought that this $6 million in taxpayers’ money would have been much better received in a place like Goulburn if it had gone to the hospital,” she said.

“Just imagine what the hospital could have done with that sort of money.”

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What a joke; over 70% of the local community are backing & calling for funding for a Rail Trail in the Goulburn Mulwaree LGA, so thousands of locals & visitors can get out in the country for a great bike ride and we have this ludicrious grant.

The capital expenditure on a rail trail in GM would go a long way for $6 million.

The Greyhound racing industry is a dodgy sideline of the gambling industry at best & it’s an absolute disgrace it has the support of the current member.

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