Victorian Government needs to re-think the Greyhound Code of Practice
The Australian Federation of Greyhound Breeders Owners and Trainers Associations (AFGBOTA) will be seeking a relationship of full and proper engagement by the Victorian Government with the Victorian Greyhound Industry, in response to the Victorian greyhound industry draft Code of Practice (Code) circulated last week for stakeholder consultation.
The objective of the Code was to establish minimum standards for the Victorian greyhound industry and it should have aimed to complement the substantial reform initiatives already undertaken in Victoria and other States of Australia, by the greyhound racing industry itself. But instead, the Code - as currently drafted - sets out what appears to be an unengaged, highly prescriptive, unreasonable and unworkable set of standards. The proposed requirements require mandatory compliance for all participants, have hefty penalties, and are simply way off track. In their current form, the proposed standards are highly unlikely to seek the objectives they set out to achieve in any manner of good faith and are counter to the reform momentum otherwise being achieved in Victoria and indeed across Australia.
President, Geoff Collins, confirmed that AFGBOTA supports the development and implementation of codes of practice that in turn underpin the national industry’s commitment to first class animal welfare but stressed that the Victorian Code needed much greater flexibility for trainers.
“The principles of first class animal management must be embedded in the Code, as this will support the industry, but AFGBOTA sees it as essential that the individual style of trainers be taken into account and this can affect kennel size, exercise routines, socialization methodology etc.” explained Collins.
“We are also concerned that hobbyists, an essential element of our stakeholder base, will be pushed out of the sport and the entry barrier for new participants and professionals will be economically too severe if the Code progresses in its current form.
“In addition, common sense needs to apply to current trainers and current facilities that don’t quite meet the standards we eventually lock in… some form of grand-fathering is a pretty standard approach to evolving regulation in all industries.”
Collins proposed that a completely different approach and attitude needed to apply as the Code was subjected to review.
“The Code must be a positive document, minimum standards need to be outlined but the Government and the industry need to be genuinely partnering in this exercise.
“As an industry, we support all initiatives that improve race/bred ratios, racing longevity, rehoming and full life cycle management, and we are completely resolute in our commitment to zero tolerance to any form of animal cruelty.
“We are already part way there on our journey. The Victorian Government needs to recognise this. The Code needs to be part of our journey, not cast upon us from above, and its end form needs to be a sensible outcome of meaningful engagement between the Government and the people that care for our greyhounds on a 24/7 basis.
“We deserve no less, in Victoria alone, the greyhound industry makes an annual economic contribution of $420m. The industry is a substantial employer, particularly in regional areas, and countless people rely on the sport as the main part of their everyday life… it's just what they do.”
AFGBOTA is taking some comfort in the public commitments of the Victorian Racing Minister, the Hon. Martin Pakula who, this week, stated that “the point of the draft is to allow participants to submit and point out elements which may be unfair or unworkable, in which case, they can and will be changed.”
AFGBOTA encourages all greyhound racing participants to read the Code and, provide a response by August 14, 2017 and will leave no stone unturned in ensuring a sensible and fair outcome.
Geoff Collins President via firstname.lastname@example.org
Participants further information and next steps: