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Speech: Greyhound Racing

Speeches in Parliament
Mehreen Faruqi 30 Jul 2019

Tonight I am speaking about one of my many passions: animals, in particular, greyhounds. Since 2018 hundreds of Australian greyhounds have been rescued from the infamous Yat Yuen greyhound racing track at Macau, known as the Canidrome. This track has been described by GREY2K as a death camp for dogs, where tens of thousands of greyhounds, including from Australia, have been killed or raced to death over the last 50 years.

I foreshadowed tonight that I will be tabling a list of the names of 497 Australian greyhounds that have been rescued. This list contains the name, ear brand and microchip number of these 497 greyhounds from Australia that survived the cruelty of greyhound racing and were rescued by the amazing and persistent work of Albano Martins and the Anima-Society for the Protection of Animals, Macau, who worked so hard to rescue so many dogs. I'm sure at times the task must have seemed hopeless, but they and others achieved what seemed impossible. The way the Macau community rallied against entrenched gambling and racing interests was incredible to watch.

Rescuing these beautiful animals has been a truly international effort; 39 organisations from around the world have re-homed the surviving dogs, including Hong Kong, Macau, Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, France and many others, including seven organisations in Australia. These people, many of them volunteers, are the ones who put their blood, sweat, tears and money into rescuing these dogs, while those who are responsible—the Australian government and the Australian greyhound racing industry—have stood by and done nothing.

I have to say, the dogs on this list are the lucky ones that survived and have been re-homed. Perhaps we will never know how many others were raced to death. A leaked document I obtained in 2018 showed that between the start of 2013 and the end of 2015 about 941 greyhounds were approved for export that would likely end up at the Canidrome. There are still hundreds of greyhounds exported from Australia, as well as their progeny, who remain at risk of being killed. Individuals and groups like Kerry Elliman of Candy Cane Rescue and Liang xiaodan of Plush Bear's Shelter in China are rescuing these greyhounds from meat trucks and giving them a second chance at life—again, at great cost and great time, and with no support from the Australian government.

I am tabling this document because two things must happen now. First, there must be accountability for those who allowed the export of greyhounds to places with minimal animal welfare standards, where they were subjected to extreme cruel conditions. Greyhounds Australasia must look at this list and take meaningful action to ensure that everyone involved in this monstrous crime is prosecuted. All the evidence—the names, the eartags, the microchip numbers—are right here.

I've been following some of the very half-hearted investigations that have been happening in greyhound racing jurisdictions, including in New South Wales. Many of the owners feign ignorance and say they didn't know where their dog was going. This is isn't good enough. For people who love to lecture us on how much they love their dogs, there is remarkable indifference to where they ended up. I'm not aware of a single case of a greyhound owner whose dog was sent to Macau trying to bring it home, because these dogs are just disposable property to the greyhound racing industry. Much stronger action must be taken.

Secondly, we must ensure that this never happens again. To be clear, the Australian Greens do not support the greyhound racing industry and believe that it is inherently cruel, in whatever country it operates in. Accordingly, as a matter of policy we oppose all greyhound exports, and we want to see greyhound racing shut down. But I recognise that at the very least we must never allow what happened to these greyhounds to happen ever again, and that means stopping the export of greyhounds to countries without animal welfare standards. Although the number of greyhounds being exported has declined in recent years, thanks to community pressure, the reality is that it could start up tomorrow, and history could repeat itself. The government at the very least needs to stop issuing export permits to countries with minimal animal welfare standards. And I'm really glad the Minister for Agriculture, Senator McKenzie, is in the chamber tonight, because I want to say this sincerely to you: I know that we may not agree on many things, but I hope this is something we can take action on. Previous attempts to stop these exports have failed, reportedly because previous ministers thought it would be too much red tape. But this is really not good enough. It is unacceptable to respond like that, because as legislators we have the responsibility to ensure animal welfare wherever we can. Even the greyhound racing industry wants us to take action on this.

I am currently drafting the legislation, and I hope to introduce that legislation to parliament, to stop the export of greyhounds to countries with really lax animal welfare standards. I really hope the government can support this, because we do have a choice. We can make some positive steps in this parliament to improve animal welfare.

I seek leave to table a document which a list of Australian greyhounds rescued from the Macau Canidrome.


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