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Question without Notice: Greyhounds and live baiting

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Sam Hibbins MP
Member for Prahran
26 February 2015

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — My question is to the Minister for Racing. Given the complete failure of Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) to detect, prevent or stop the outrageous and illegal practice of live baiting, how can the minister have such confidence to give GRV $3 million to self-regulate ahead of the findings of the review by the racing integrity commissioner?

Mr PAKULA (Minister for Racing) — I thank the member for Prahran for his question, and I note that he understandably misconceived almost everything about the question he has asked. Despite the fact that 3000 full-time equivalent workers are employed in the greyhound racing industry and despite the fact that there are some 20 000 volunteers and other people who participate in the greyhound racing industry, I understand that the Greens would like the entire industry to be shut down. I understand that there is very real and understandable revulsion at the revelations that were shown on the Four Corners program.

When the member for Prahran suggests that as minister I have shown an outrageous display of confidence in the GRV board, he knows that not to be the case. In fact, the government has announced a review by the chief veterinarian, Charles Milne, and the racing integrity commissioner, Sal Perna, has announced an own-motion inquiry into greyhound racing. Interim reports of both those inquiries will be returned to me and the Minister for Agriculture by 10 March ahead of more fulsome reports that will come later.

The chairman of Greyhound Racing Victoria has resigned, trainers involved in these despicable practices have been suspended, the Tooradin trial track has been suspended and the greyhound industry awards night was cancelled. This government has taken an enormous array of actions to try to get to the bottom of the live baiting scandal that has occurred over the last period of years.

In regard to the Victorian Racing Industry Fund, which is provided from unclaimed dividends and from which there is already an allocation to each code based on the predetermined percentage, the government has determined that the proportion of those funds that would have otherwise gone to greyhound racing for other things — infrastructure, race day attractions and the like — will instead go to integrity, to animal welfare and to inspections, as is entirely appropriate. If it were not spent on that, it would be spent on things far less amenable and far less worthy for the benefit of greyhounds and those who are trying to clean up the sport.\

If the member for Prahran thinks that those funds already allocated to greyhound racing ought to be spent otherwise, perhaps he can tell the house what he thinks they should be spent on.

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — Order! Government members will come to order. I warn the Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing and ask him to allow the member for Prahran to ask a supplementary question.

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — Given the failure of Greyhound Racing Victoria to protect animal welfare, will the government now adopt the Greens policy of setting up an independent regulatory body for animal welfare?

Mr PAKULA (Minister for Racing) — In responding to the supplementary question, may I say in the first instance that I think it is appropriate to acknowledge the former member for Prahran, Mr Newton-Brown, who I do not think was acknowledged by the member for Prahran in his inaugural speech, so I take the opportunity to do that.

In regard to the supplementary question, can I say that it is not this government's practice to adopt Greens policies in this respect or in respect of anything else. In regard to animal welfare, the response will of course be guided by the report provided to me and the Minister for Agriculture by the chief veterinarian, Dr Charles Milne — and I will take the advice of Dr Milne before I take the advice of the member for Prahran, the member for Melbourne or indeed the Greens in the other place.

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Sam Hibbins MP
Member for Prahran
26 February 2015
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