Greyhound racing to continue despite damning vet report

Alex Mitchell |

A report claims greyhounds are being pushed to race at levels that are causing injuries.
A report claims greyhounds are being pushed to race at levels that are causing injuries.

The NSW government has ruled out another attempt to shut down the state’s greyhound racing industry despite a scathing report detailing shocking allegations of poor animal welfare practices.

Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) CEO Robert Macaulay resigned on Tuesday after a report written by the organisation’s former chief veterinary officer Alex Brittan was made public.

It included claims that greyhound deaths were being hidden, adoption rates were exaggerated and dogs were being pushed to race at levels that were causing injuries.

Premier Chris Minns firmly denied the industry’s future was in jeopardy on Wednesday while promising a full investigation into the allegations.

“We’re not going to shut (greyhound racing) down,” he told reporters.

Racing Minister David Harris said a formal inquiry into the industry would be launched to create a pathway for it to continue operating.

NSW Minister for Gaming and Racing David Harris
David Harris says the report alleges significant issues within greyhound racing in NSW. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)

Mr Harris issued a show-cause notice to the GRNSW board earlier in July, alleging the organisation had breached the terms of its operating licence.

Board members have until Friday to respond to the notices.

“It is no secret (our) relationship has become strained, because I make no apology for asking for the highest level of welfare and integrity,” the minister said.

“As a sport it can survive, it can thrive, if those within the industry are prepared to change and become more professional, and I know there’s many in the industry that support that.”

Mr Harris received the bombshell report in June and referred it to the NSW Office of Racing for further scrutiny, while the government backed Animal Justice MP Emma Hurst’s bid for the document to be made public.

But after media published details from the report on Tuesday, Ms Hurst said the Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission made a privilege claim to stop its further distribution.

“You may be wondering just how damning those documents are to have such a knee-jerk reaction to suddenly attempt to stop them from becoming public … that would be a good question,” she told AAP.

The commission said the decision was made as Dr Brittan’s report named a number of individuals and third parties while alleging serious issues within the industry that “require careful scrutiny”.

Former Victorian police chief Graham Ashton
Former Victorian police chief Graham Ashton will investigate the allegations (file photo). (Ellen Smith/AAP PHOTOS)

Investigations into the allegations made within the document were ongoing, a spokeswoman said in a statement.

GRNSW has appointed former Victorian police chief Graham Ashton to investigate Dr Brittan’s allegations.

“That is a demonstration of how serious we are about ensuring the matters raised by Dr Brittan are thoroughly investigated,” a spokesperson said.

“In addition to investigating specific claims, Mr Ashton has the power to evaluate best practice standards relating to the welfare of greyhounds within the Greyhounds As Pets NSW program and make any relevant recommendations.”

In a statement on Tuesday, the organisation’s board said it had accepted Mr Macauley’s resignation.

The Greens continued their calls for the industry to be shut completely, labelling greyhound racing “incapable of reform”.

A protester holds a placard during an Anti-Greyhound Racing rally
The Greens want the industry shut completely, saying it’s “incapable of reform”. (Jeremy Ng/AAP PHOTOS)

“Time and time again, we have heard damning and well-documented evidence of cruel and corrupt practices across the industry including live baiting, doping, discarded greyhounds, cruel kennel conditions and fudged rehoming numbers,” MP Abigail Boyd said.

Then-NSW premier Mike Baird in 2016 announced a ban on greyhound races following evidence of extensive misconduct within the industry, but backflipped on the plans before they took effect.

Greyhound racing was banned in the ACT in 2018, but the industry operates in all other states and territories. The bulk of the nation’s racetracks are in NSW.