5th April 2014
Queensland Racing Minister Steve Dickson has just given the green light to a new greyhound racing track at Cronulla Park in Logan, one of Australia’s fastest-growing urban corridors. Dickson has confirmed that construction on the $12 million publicly funded track at Cronulla Park will begin in May. The government will spend another $1.2 million a year on appearance fees for greyhound trainers.
Animal Liberation Queensland spokesperson Hayley Cotton said: “Millions of taxpayers' dollars are going to be spent on expanding an industry with serious animal welfare, economic and social issues.” Logan is already considered the “pokie capital” of Queensland and is in the top 10 most disadvantaged regions in Australia. Research highlights that the effects of gambling are worse in disadvantaged areas and give rise to serious health issues such as anxiety and depression.
The social costs of gambling are significantly higher than the benefits, resulting in lost productivity. But the local council and state government support the project. Dickson approved the track because: “The industry is important for the Queensland economy”.Logan deputy mayor Russell Lutton said: “Greyhound racing will increase productivity in the Logan community”, ignoring that the greyhound industry has previously operated at a significant loss.
A NSW parliamentary inquiry into allegations of doping, corruption, overbreeding and animal cruelty in the greyhound racing industry last year found “that the economic viability of racing greyhounds is in decline”. There is strong evidence that gambling can have adverse health, emotional and financial impacts on many more people than those who are actually categorised in the statistics as problem gamblers, placing heavy economic and social burdens on the entire community. Emerging communities are at additional risk due to a lack of resources and English language skills. It is even more reason to be concerned about another gambling and alcohol venue in the Logan community.
Cotton said: “The greyhound industry is responsible for excessive breeding of an estimated 20,000 greyhound dogs each year in Australia, and of these it is estimated that 17,000 of these dogs will die young. Thousands of dogs are killed each year for being too slow, injured, at the end of their short careers or because they are merely considered 'surplus'. “There is little regulatory effort to curb breeding numbers; in fact there are some breeding incentives in place resulting ultimately in mass wastage.”
Trainers now have extra incentive through the $1.2 million funding. In response to this, Animal Liberation Queensland has set up a Queensland Parliament e-petition opposing the Cronulla Park greyhound venue and in support of a more community and culturally friendly facility.
Other campaign actions include a billboard on the main highway opposite Logan Hyperdome sponsored by greyhound advocates. This aims to raise awareness about the plight of greyhounds that are not afforded the same rights as other companion animals. The age of entitlement is not over. The government is using millions of taxpayers’ dollars to prop up an unsustainable greyhound racing industry that is clearly detrimental to the Logan community and detrimental to the lives of thousands of dogs every year.
By Janet Scott , in Green Left Weekly