Government Crack Down On Live Baiting

The Andrews Labor Government is taking swift action to crack down on live baiting in the greyhound racing industry with a suite of integrity and welfare measures announced today.

Racing Integrity Commissioner Sal Perna’s report on allegations of live baiting and Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Charles Milne’s report on animal welfare in the industry have made a total of 68 recommendations.

All recommendations put to Government will be accepted. All recommendations put to GRV are supported in principle, with GRV and the Government to work through the practical implications of their implementation.

In a crucial first step towards reforming Victorian racing, Minister for Racing Martin Pakula has appointed internationally renowned racing administrator Paul Bittar to develop a new integrity model for all three codes.

Mr Bittar – who has previously served as CEO of the British Horseracing Authority and CEO of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing – will consult with the three codes before proposing a model and timeframe for implementation. Mr Bittar will report back to Government by March 2016.

Among a range of other integrity and welfare measures, the Government will also:

  • Increase fines and penalties for live baiters with strengthened baiting and luring offences under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTA)
  • Introduce a new offence under POCTA for being present at a place where live baiting is occurring
  • Bolster the powers of inspectors, making it easier for them to enter premises and share information with law enforcement agencies
  • Mandate the appointment of a veterinarian on the Board of GRV to prioritise animal welfare
  • Ensure the membership of the Greyhound Racing Appeals and Disciplinary Tribunal has at least one member with animal welfare experience
  • Outlaw the presence of certain animals – dead or alive – at venues being used for greyhound training or racing
  • Mandate reporting of animal welfare breaches to relevant authorities such as Victoria Police and the RSPCA
  • Increase GRV penalties and sanctions against registered participants found to be live baiting

The Government will also appoint well-respected former public servant Bernie Carolan as the new GRV Chair, replacing Ray Gunston who has recently taken a full-time job with the AFL.

Mr Gunston will remain on the GRV Board until September and will remain in the role of Chair until July, undertaking a full handover with Mr Carolan.

The Government will undertake a status review of the implementation of recommendations in two years.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Racing, Martin Pakula

“A practice as barbaric as live baiting has no place in Victoria’s greyhound racing industry – full stop.”

“An independent integrity regime is not just inevitable for Victorian racing, it’s necessary. That’s why I’ve appointed Mr Bittar to steer the path forward for a new integrity model across all three codes.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford

“There is a fundamental culture change that needs to happen here – and it starts with putting animal welfare first.”

“The Andrews Labor Government is sending a strong message to the greyhound racing industry and the broader community that this kind of horrible behaviour will not be tolerated.”