The South Australian Government has given the greyhound racing industry two years to improve its standards, or the sport will be banned.

Key points:

  • South Australia’s greyhound racing industry will be banned if it doesn’t improve its standards
  • The state government will establish an independent inspector for greyhound racing reforms
  • It follows an inquiry after a report by the ABC revealed abuse in the industry

It is one of the recommendations of an inquiry into the industry that was launched following revelations by the ABC of dogs being abused.

“This government wants to see the greyhound racing industry survive in South Australia, but only if it cleans up its act,” Premier Peter Malinauskas said.

“This report makes plainly clear that there is work that needs to be done.”

The independent review has handed down 57 recommendations, with an additional 29 from Greyhound Racing SA, the RSPCA and the Animal Justice Party.

That includes a recommendation to establish an independent inspector for greyhound racing reform, who will make sure the recommendations are implemented.

After two years, an inspector will make a recommendation to the SA government about whether the greyhound racing industry should continue.(Pixabay: herbert2512)

After two years, that inspector will make a recommendation to the government about whether the industry should continue.

“It makes clear that this industry has two years, it has two years to clean itself up,” Mr Malinauskas said.

“Otherwise it faces the prospect of no longer being able to enjoy the social licence and the government support that is required for it to be able to operate.

“That’s a strong recommendation and one that the government accepts.”

The inquiry has also recommended governance reforms, including making it clear the board has a role in driving and upholding integrity, and that board members declare private interests.

It also calls for government funding for a full time RSPCA welfare officer dedicated to greyhounds, and an agreement between the RSPCA and the industry to ensure information is shared.

ABC report sparked inquiry

The state government launched the inquiry in July, after the ABC published vision showing multiple greyhounds, including puppies, apparently being kicked and punched by a person on a property south-east of Adelaide.

The story resulted in two trainers being suspended, and investigations launched by the RSPCA and Greyhound Racing SA.

In a separate incident in June, three trainers were given lifetime bans over a live baiting scandal.

Self-regulation out of step, reviewer says 

The head of the inquiry, Graham Ashton, said South Australia is one of the few jurisdictions where greyhound racing is effectively self-regulated.

“I think it’s out of step with what’s happening around the world in terms of industries that are similar to this,” he said.

“They operate well with effective oversight and South Australia is one of the few states that doesn’t have that oversight at the moment.”

Mr Ashton said while there are many good people in the industry, he found some cases where dogs had poor nutrition, lacked exercise and access to daylight.

“At the far end of the industry spectrum perhaps there are some people that shouldn’t be in the industry, in my opinion,” he said.

“Some of the practices that we learnt about and GRSA were aware of and trying to deal with were really quite alarming from an animal welfare perspective.”

Graham Ashton says SA is one of the few jurisdictions where greyhound racing is effectively self-regulated.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

Mr Ashton said he found there was a gap between the conditions greyhounds are kept in, and what the community expects.

“Certainly greyhounds that are currently being trained and owned in South Australia certainly appear to be very healthy and very fit, physically healthy and fit,” he said.

“However there is considerable reform necessary we think to provide the sort of psychological health conditions that the community now expects.”

Industry welcomes report release

Greyhound Racing SA (GRSA) issued a statement welcoming the release of the report and saying it has worked hard to engage with the inquiry.

“On initial review, we agree in principle with the recommendations and we have established a working party within GRSA to review the report in detail and to identify opportunities for immediate reform,” it said.

“Elements of the report make for challenging reading, and we recognise the task we have been set.”

The organisation said the industry generates $112 million a year in economic benefits and supports more than 850 full time jobs.

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