As the debate continues over whether Australia Day should be celebrated on January 26, this series looks at the politics of some unresolved issues swirling around Australia Day – namely, the republic and reconciliation. And […]
YOU may have heard me on 2CC defending the Canberra Greyhound Racing Club. A club that is – barring a victory in the courts – going to be shut down.
The club has never had any animal welfare breaches recorded against it. Even Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay, the man charged with driving this item on the “Green Agenda” through the Legislative Assembly, has said so.
Last week, it was with no small irony that the Green-led Labor government brought its Bills to ban greyhound racing into the Assembly.
It was with no small irony because it happened on the same day the Liberal no-confidence motion based on allegations of corruption against Chief Minister Andrew Barr was debated.
Unsurprisingly, and justifiably, the no-confidence motion captured a lot of attention and dominated all reviews of the day’s proceedings in the Assembly. As a result, the greyhound Bills were invariably buried further down news bulletins and publications.
Do you reckon, given the timing of the no-confidence motion had been known for a week, that it was a coincidence? Or is it more likely that Barr and Ramsay conspired to schedule it for a day in an attempt to yet again hide from serious public scrutiny of the Bill?
Would they really duck serious scrutiny? Well, their record so far on this one isn’t great. Mr Ramsay gave an abysmal performance on ABC Radio that morning. Dan Bourchier repeatedly asked for ACT-sourced evidence to support the ban and Mr Ramsay couldn’t come up with any. All he did was to keep parroting his line about how the greyhound racing industries in NSW and the ACT can’t be separated.
A line he reportedly didn’t agree with in his one and only meeting with the Canberra Greyhound Club last year and a line that an official ACT government analysis presented to the minister also debunked.
I did invite Mr Ramsay to appear on my show but (and not for the first time) he declined, his office claimed there’d been a change in the legal landscape in the six hours leading up to my show. Indeed, I was told I wouldn’t get an interview with him as the CGRC had launched legal action, so Mr Ramsay couldn’t talk. That legal action had actually commenced more than a week earlier.
This is the same week that our Attorney-General refused to meet with the Australian Veterinary Association, which represents more than 6000 vets, who had come to town to dispute the “animal welfare” reasoning the ban is supposedly based on. The meeting was pushed down to a public servant, who in turn pushed it to the so-called Greyhound Transition Taskforce. So much for taking on expert advice.
The Bills were put a week after Liberal MLA Mark Parton took less than an hour to find 20 people (for disclosure, myself included) willing to stump up their own money to form a greyhound syndicate after one speech in the Assembly, a short radio interview with me and a social media video. Most of these people, if not all as far as I know, have never owned a racing dog before. There were dozens more who expressed interest. This suggests the “out-of-step-with-community-values” argument is so much bunkum.
And let’s not forget the recent incident in Canberra where a woman was tragically killed by a dangerous dog, and despite the government’s refusal to implement the same laws about dangerous breeds that exist in every state. Nobody has – so far as my searches have found – ever been attacked by a greyhound in the ACT. But sometimes, unwanted pit-bull pups are brought into the ACT from NSW. The RSPCA here sees nothing wrong with this.
This is the same RSPCA branch that refuses to deal with the CGRC. Again in NSW, Victoria and other jurisdictions, the RSPCA works WITH greyhound-racing bodies.
By now I hope you see a pattern. It’s the radical animal activists who are running the show, not the animal welfare organisations.
But this is not all. This government’s priorities are out of whack on other matters. It could be argued that it’s more actively taking on greyhounds than outlaw motorcycle gangs. Anti-consorting laws, which are in several states now, are still deemed unnecessary in the ACT. Even though bikie-related violence, shootings, arson and other crimes are skyrocketing.
Instead the government has offered more prosecution options, which means instead of stopping the bikies from being here and assembling. In numbers, the cops have to chase them down after they’ve committed a crime and find people willing to testify. No prevention, only a half-baked attempt at “cure”.
And one other thing. The lack of union support for the 50 union members at the club who are going to lose their jobs has been a disgrace. I spoke with the AWU, but their lack of substantive action is deplorable. And UnionsACT? Well from their social media, they’re more concerned about Streets Ice Cream than chasing after their mates in the ACT government.
Who gets rights in the ACT?