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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 1198 asked in the Legislative Council on 22 October 2019 by Hon Alison Xamon

Parliament: 40 Session: 1

Answered on

ANIMAL WELFARE — RACEHORSES

1198. Hon ALISON XAMON to the minister representing the Minister for Racing and Gaming:

I refer to the disturbing report regarding racehorses sent to slaughter on ABC's 7.30 program on 17 October.

(1) Can the minister advise whether any Western Australian racehorses have been or are being sent to slaughterhouses when they are no longer able to race or are uncompetitive?

(2) If no to (1), can the minister advise whether there is a ban on the practice of discarding unwanted racehorses at knackeries and abattoirs in WA?

(3) Are rehoming policies in place in WA and are they sufficient to handle the number of horses that retire each year?

(4) Has the minister given any consideration to establishing a horse traceability register in Western Australia?

(5) If no to (4), why not?

Hon ALANNAH MacTIERNAN replied:

I thank the member for the question. The Minister for Racing and Gaming has provided the following information.

(1)–(5) First up, the minister endorses the member's comments about the footage: it was abhorrent, deplorable behaviour. The minister wants to ensure that such unacceptable behaviour does not occur in Western Australia now or ever. Initial advice indicates that this is not occurring in our state; however, the minister has immediately sought to understand the landscape of abattoirs and knackeries in WA. In doing so, the government has identified some challenges that it will address as soon as possible. One such challenge is the limitation of the Racing and Wagering Western Australia regulation on racehorses. Although RWWA monitors and regulates racehorses from their birth to their exit from the racing industry, oversight beyond racing is not afforded by the current legislation or regulation. The practice often can be that racehorses are bought and sold numerous times before a horse is euthanased or dies of natural causes. WA racehorses that retire from racing are registered through a single national system, managed by Racing Australia. According to the single national system, 100 thoroughbred horses were registered as being euthanased or sent to an abattoir in 2018. RWWA is interrogating those figures to provide the minister with more accurate data.

Madam President, this is a very long answer and, unfortunately, I got it only just before question time. Would it be possible to seek leave to incorporate the rest of the answer into Hansard?

Leave granted.

The following material was incorporated —

Another challenge is that some race horses (and other horses) are exported to South Australia for processing and we do not have visibility over the number involved in this process.

Further, we understand there are a number of unregistered private businesses that process horses for pet meat. Again, racing authorities have no authority or visibility over this process.

There is currently no ban in place to prevent this practice.

The Minister for Racing and Gaming is committed to ensuring the highest possible standard for the treatment and welfare of race horses from their birth to their death. He is committed to the humane treatment of these animals, regardless of their age, or circumstances. This should be done because it is right, and to ensure the sustainability of this industry in WA. We can only ensure longevity of the industry if it meets the highest possible standard of welfare.

Western Australian thoroughbred and Standardbred horses are traced, and any retirement or death of a horse is registered with Racing Australia or Harness Racing Australia.

RWWA also runs an 'Off the Track' program to promote the rehoming of racehorses. The program is a highly reputable rehoming program.

This Government, along with RWWA and the Eligible Bodies of racing, can provide excellent welfare standards for all race horses and I can advise that the Minister has commenced work on a plan of action to address this matter.