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Tuesday, 20 December 2016 00:00

Select Committee into Jumps Racing

It was my pleasure to be on the select committee to inquire into the future of jumps racing in South Australia. As a veterinary surgeon, I have been involved with the issues of animal welfare for many years. I have worked in racehorse practice and in sports horse practice, with show jumping and eventing, so I have experienced the very highs and the very lows of these industries, yet animal welfare has always been a top consideration not only for me as a veterinary surgeon but also for the owners and associates of the horses involved.

It is a very difficult issue to embrace for some people, but others who are involved in the industry absolutely love it - they live for it in some cases.  It is a very emotive issue, like other areas of animal welfare, and we received over 1,800 submissions. 

The committee met 18 times and we travelled to Victoria and country South Australia and to Oakbank, obviously, to look at and talk to people associated with jumps racing. I am convinced that we have a complete picture of the current situation in South Australia and also of what is happening in Victoria. We also received a lot of information about what is happening overseas. We were able to come to a unanimous conclusion that jumps racing in South Australia should not be banned. That said, there are a number of areas where we need to make sure that openness and transparency associated with jumps racing is going to be to the world's best standard.

I am very pleased to see that, amongst the 28 recommendations we have made, there are a number of recommendations to the industry to lift their game and open themselves up to more scrutiny, because everybody will be watching. This is not the end. Although we have said that the parliament should not revisit this for three years, we will be watching what is going on very carefully, as will the rest of the population of South Australia.

We are very keen to see the industry continue, but we must make sure we maximise animal welfare for the horses involved so we can all continue to enjoy watching the spectacles of the Oakbank races, the Grand Annual at Warrnambool and also the other races down at Mount Gambier that we see each and every year.

The bottom line is that this is a good sport. It is a good industry that we have in South Australia. It employs a lot of people and has a huge economic impact, and we cannot disregard that side as well.

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