4th June 2014
CHRIS UHLMANN: A proposal to build a new greyhound track in the low socio-economic heartland of Logan, south of Brisbane, is facing growing opposition. Local residents are concerned that yet another gambling venue is not good for the city, which already has more than its share of societal problems. They say a sporting facility would give the city's youth some better options. Two petitions protesting against the development have gathered more than 7,000 signatures. However the state Government is determined to push ahead with the project.
As Nance Haxton reports.
NANCE HAXTON: The Cronulla Park site for the proposed greyhound track in Logan is an old rubbish dump that has been vacant for decades. But Logan resident of 27 years, Graeme Palmer, says building a greyhound track is one of the worst outcomes possible for the site.
GRAEME PALMER: There could be indoor soccer buildings, there could be basketball courts, tennis courts. There could be markets here on the weekends.
NANCE HAXTON: Could it be argued though that it would be better a facility like this that would bring money into the community?
GRAEME PALMER: Never. Once it's established, it'll become a place where there's Keno, poker machines, TAB betting facilities, and all of those arrangements extract money out of our community. It's wrong.
NANCE HAXTON: Australian Christian Lobby Queensland director Wendy Francis grew up in the area, and says locals don't need another place to gamble their meagre funds.
WENDY FRANCIS: Logan is in one of the 10 most disadvantaged areas in Australia and the last thing they need is another gambling venue, because research would show that disadvantaged people spend more of their wage on gambling if it's available to them.
NANCE HAXTON: Queensland Racing Minister Steve Dickson was not available for interview but told AM in a statement that the development will benefit the local community by creating jobs and attracting investment. He says greyhound welfare is of the highest priority, and Racing Queensland is working on a number of strategies to improve standards, including mandatory kennel inspections. Logan City Council Deputy Mayor Russell Lutton, who has a part-interest owning a racing greyhound, says the new greyhound track will benefit the region.
RUSSELL LUTTON: First off, there's investment in construction, and I think the Government's allocated just over $12 million. The benefits then are some employment opportunities in the ongoing maintenance and running of the track.
NANCE HAXTON: What about concerns that being a low socio-economic area, there really shouldn't be any more venues for gambling built in Logan.
RUSSELL LUTTON: Look, if anyone wants to have a bet, they can find a place to bet now. There are clubs, there are pubs, there are TABs. They can go and play the pokies, they can play Keno, they can do Lotto, they can bet on the horses, the greyhounds, the trots. Look, I say to those people that say, that don't want to gamble, don't gamble, but let those of us that gamble responsibly and know what we want to do with our money do it.
NANCE HAXTON: But Hayley Cotton from Animal Liberation Queensland says the greyhound industry is cruel, and should not be supported with a new development.
HAYLEY COTTON: Greyhound racing also is responsible for a lot of injuries and greyhounds live extremely short lives because when they stop winning, they are often sent to the vet's to be euthanised, given to universities. So that normally happens around three or four years old.
So the industry itself is responsible for a higher level of wastage.
NANCE HAXTON: Russell Lutton denies that greyhound racing is a dying industry, and says anyone caught abusing their animal will be prosecuted.
RUSSELL LUTTON: Some of these dogs are worth $50-$60,000. You're not going to mistreat something that's… a lot of them turn out to be family pets. If you read greyhound magazines and stories, you know, the families love these dogs to death. They're not going to mistreat 'em.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Logan Council Deputy Mayor Russell Lutton, ending Nance Haxton's report.
Nance Haxton for ABC AM with Chris Uhlmann