Government Whip in the Legislative Council

Liberal Member in the Parliament of South Australia




Motion to Establish a Joint Committee on Jumps Racing

Thursday 14 May, 2015

I move the following amendment: That the words 'whether it should be banned' be deleted from point 1. The opposition is concerned that the parameters set by the original motion are too narrow and serve only the minister's end of banning jumps racing in this state. We would prefer to see a wider discussion on the pros and cons of jumps racing from an objective standpoint, given that racing is a vital industry to the South Australian economy and that jumps racing is an integral part of the racing calendar. Those honourable members who have been here since before last year's election would know of my personal view on jumps racing, which is shared by the Liberal parliamentary party, and that is one of unequivocal support. Thoroughbred Racing South Australia has shown nothing but a commitment to animal welfare in its conduct and administration of jumps racing in the time that I have been in this place. It certainly seems that this issue is raised on an annual basis around Easter time, when we have 70,000 people converge on the beautiful Hills town of Oakbank for their racing carnival— anything but a coincidence. This famous and ancient carnival has two steeplechases as its flagship races, and without them the Oakbank carnival would have a very different feel to it. The Oakbank Easter Racing Carnival brings in $13 million to the local economy. Just why the government and the Minister for Tourism, of all people, would want to mess with that is beyond me, particularly in this economic climate. Many of my colleagues in the other place have mentioned that those who protest these events have a certain ideological agenda which is against the so-called exploitation of animals, full stop, and this extends to the use of domesticated animals as working animals or as food sources. I emphasise that domesticated animals, in many cases, were domesticated thousands of years ago for human assistance and subsistence. To suggest that these animals have been mistreated simply by doing what they exist to do is ridiculous. Furthermore, it is in the interests of human owners to care for animals whether they be for food, sport, work or companionship. Weak, maltreated animals would not produce the desired results. Happy horse: happy human. Frances Nelson QC of TRSA has said publicly that interstate where these bans have been implemented, animal rights protesters have simply moved on to other equestrian events as their source of outrage. Something that is rarely mentioned in these debates is the risk to the jockey in jumps racing. Quite often it is the jockey who is at risk also during a fall in the race, both from trampling and from being crushed by the horse weighing around half a tonne. As I alluded to earlier, I have made many contributions in this place in favour of jumps racing. I will not clog the public record with more of the same argument, but I refer honourable members to those debates and to the debate in the other place. I look forward to the deliberations of this joint committee and encourage honourable members to support the amendment to allow an objective investigation into this very important issue.

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