The Hon. Beverley McArthur, Member for Western Victoria Region, Media Release, 6 March 2023
With no thanks to the Animal Justice Party, all Victorian racetracks, race meetings, trial meetings and racing precincts just got safer.
The recent passing in the Victorian Parliament of the Racing Amendment Bill 2022 prohibits the unauthorised access to these places and events and any acts that make them unsafe.
The changes are consistent with the crowd management provisions in the Major Events Act 2009, which covers major events including eight of Victoria’s major Spring Racing Carnival meetings.
The Bill will ensure the same safeguards are now in place at every thoroughbred, harness and greyhound race meeting and official trial meeting across the state.
Member for Western Victoria, Bev McArthur, said the legislation targeting the radical, animal rights activists, was overdue.
“Among these people are those who make racetracks and precincts unsafe,” Mrs McArthur said.
“During last year’s Spring Carnival in Melbourne, for example, individuals went onto the racetrack and poured an oily substance on the surface.
“It was designed to create mayhem – to make the track unsafe – to cause damage to horses and jockeys – and all of it simply so animal rights activists could say racetracks, and horse racing, are places of cruelty to animals.
“But” she told the Victorian Parliament, “This legislation is a no-brainer, really”.
“The purpose is to promote the safety and welfare of all patrons and participants, including animals and to avoid the potential consequences of incursions and disruptive conduct.
“Believe me, anyone involved in the horse world loves and cares for their animals. We love our horses and we look after them to the very best of our ability,” Mrs McArthur said.
“When I was at primary school, I rode my pony to school. She was naughty and used to jump out of the pony paddock and gallop home while I was in the classroom, leaving me to walk home, while dodging the pecking magpies and plovers.
“But I still loved her – and by the way – horses break legs wandering around paddocks – they don’t have to be on a racetrack to get injured,” she said.
“What’s more, the racing industry is a critical part of Victoria’s economy and especially in rural and regional economies.
There are 66 country racing clubs in Victoria contributing $750 million into the state. About half of that comes from the 27 clubs in Western Victoria.
“Think the three-day May Racing Carnival in Warrnambool; the New Year’s Day celebration at Burrumbeet, the regular Ballarat, Geelong, Ararat, Avoca or Horsham meets, plus all the year round on track training activities that employ many. Think of the glorious Grampians backdrop provided for the Dunkeld track on its one big day of racing.
“Further, Dunkeld also hosts polo, a sport that takes up many of the horses once their track days are behind them.
“Then there’s the Apsley Club closer to the South Australian border – a club that started in 1855 – the oldest surviving club in Victoria, born the same year as the Victorian Parliament – an institution to rival Spring Street.
“And closer to my home, the Camperdown Jockey Club with its once-a-year January meeting drawing thousands to the iconic grandstand – one of the most famous in Australia.
“In fact,” she goaded her parliamentary colleagues, “I’ll invite all of you – I don’t want the protestors, sorry, you are not getting an invitation – but everyone else who votes for this Bill can get an invite to come to the Camperdown Cup in January. You will have a fantastic day and you will be a race enthusiast in no time,” she said.
Mrs McArthur also chided the Animal Justice Party and the Greens for failing to get “on board’ with the effort to protect brumbies in Victoria’s High Country.
“You appear quite happy for them to be shot as a moving target by a sniper and be left to die a slow barbaric death.
Disingenuous springs to mind if animal welfare is really the holy grail, here.
“But this Bill does not stop you from coming to a racetrack – it does not lock you out.
“We are just making sure you do not cause injury to the workers, to the public and most of all to the magnificent animals that are horses,” Mrs McArthur said.