Exeter Races
Exeter Races

Animal cruelty revamp to save horses from abattoirs

THOROUGHBRED and harness racehorses will be rehomed for life and never finish up at an abattoir under sweeping changes to animal cruelty laws to be announced today by the Queensland Government.

The Palaszczuk Government will spend an extra $6 million to beef-up biosecurity measures after accepting all 55 recommendations of the Martin inquiry into the management of retired thoroughbred and standardbred horses.

A one per cent levy on prizemoney will fund the extra staff and bureaucracy required to regulate the rehoming of racehorses after they retire.

Industry leaders are expected to welcome the new measures because animal liberationists have stepped up efforts in recent years to embarrass the industry, which employs 5000 people in Queensland.

It followed shocking footage aired on an ABC television program which exposed cruel and barbaric practices towards some retired racehorses, especially those killed at abattoirs, including one in Caboolture.

Animal rights activists outside one of the Caboolture abattoirs at the centre of the ABC television program.
Animal rights activists outside one of the Caboolture abattoirs at the centre of the ABC television program.

The crackdown on post-racing horse welfare follows a similar overhaul of the Australian greyhound industry, which now has the best dog adoption program in the world.

The report highlighted a systemic failure by the racing industry to ensure that animals are looked after for life.

Despite improved efforts in recent years, there was still a significant number of ex-racehorses killed for pet meat at abattoirs.

Some of these horses had earned their connections significant prizemoney.

Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe will announce extra funding for the Queensland Racing and Integrity Unit to oversee the new welfare program.

Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe: Picture: Alistair Brightman
Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe: Picture: Alistair Brightman

Extra biosecurity officers will also be employed by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to rehome and retrain retired racehorses.

The new measures mean:

a greater role for the racing industry in overseeing the welfare of retired racehorses;

increased staffing and resourcing for Biosecurity Queensland to ensure animal welfare requirements are met;

more funding for improved training for animal welfare inspectors and improvements in complaints management.

Racing Queensland will be tasked with setting up an animal welfare division to control the program.

The Martin inquiry also calls for a national working group to put together a traceability scheme for Australia.

It's understood the inquiry also calls for Racing Queensland to provide incentives to owners to encourage them to keep ownership and location details of ex racehorses.