Two years for greyhound racers to clean up or close up

South Australia's greyhound racing industry has two years to clean up its act or face closure after a review found inadequate animal welfare standards.

Premier Peter Malinauskas on Thursday accepted, in principle, all 86 recommendations of the independent inquiry, which was headed by former Victorian police chief Graham Ashton and came after videos surfaced in June showing trainers abusing dogs.

One recommendation will result in the establishment of an independent Greyhound Industry Reform Inspector to oversee reforms in the sector. 

If the inspector has not seen satisfactory progress within two years, racing in South Australia will be discontinued.

Graham Ashton
After a review of greyhound racing in SA, Graham Ashton found a range of issues.

While there were "many good people" in the industry, Mr Malinauskas said the government would not hesitate to revoke its social licence to operate.

"The people of our state are absolutely appalled at some of the behaviour that has come to light throughout the course of this year," he told reporters. 

"So change must happen, it can happen and if it does the industry will get to continue. But if it doesn't, it is at risk."

The report highlighted a number of issues, including the industry's  over-reliance on gambling as its sole income stream, a large proportion of prize money flowing to a small number of participants, the old age of most of the sport's participants and poor animal welfare standards.

While Mr Ashton found most trainers genuinely cared for their dogs, many felt they only needed to exercise their greyhounds as little as once a week and would keep them in dark, cramped kennels for extended periods of time.

One trainer was repeatedly found to have non-compliant kennels in at least a dozen inspections over a 10-year period, including bedding soaked with urine and faeces, cramped conditions and inadequate hot weather protections. 

Despite the numerous breaches, no action was taken.

Peter Malinauskas
Premier Peter Malinauskas says greyhound racing must change and "if it doesn't it is at risk".

The report also recommended more funding for rehoming services, such as the Greyhounds as Pets program.

Mr Malinauskas said the government had already provided extra funds to the racing industry and would ensure more money to clean up the sector would come from gambling revenue.

Mr Ashton said the level of oversight in the industry was out of step with the rest of the world and a factor behind why the recommendations of previous reviews had gone unfulfilled.

South Australia is just one of two Australian jurisdictions, along with Western Australia, where the greyhound industry is yet to implement an independent oversight model.

Mr Ashton said NSW had progressed significant reforms to clean up its racing industry, including improving kennel sizes and conditions, which he would like to see implemented in SA.

Recreation, Sport and Racing Minister Katrine Hildyard said the community was rightly shocked by the footage that emerged earlier this year, including one video showing a trainer kicking and punching a dog.

But she was confident the racing industry could reform, given Greyhound Racing SA leadership had fully co-operated with the review and had suggested 14 of the inquiry's recommendations.

SA Greens MP Tammy Franks welcomed the review, calling it "vindication" for animal lovers and whistleblowers.

"We’ve known for a long time the industry assurances were hollow and that greyhounds were suffering," she said.

"We welcome an independent oversight of this cruel industry."

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