Severe weather events and Cyclone Gabrielle have delayed the Racing Minister taking a paper to Cabinet about next steps for the greyhound industry.
There is no clear date for when Kieran McAnulty’s paper will go to Cabinet, and until he presents the Racing Industry Board’s final report to ministers, the details of it won’t be publicly released.
The final report was received by the minister in December last year and once it’s made public, McAnulty intends to allow industry and animal welfare groups an opportunity to comment on it before making a recommendation to Cabinet.
That recommendation will be to either allow the greyhound industry to continue under strict controls or close it down completely.
But McAnulty confirmed to Newsroom he wouldn’t be in a position to make that recommendation before the election in October.
“This feels like betrayal.”
– SAFE campaigns manager Anna de Roo
SAFE campaigns manager Anna de Roo says the animal rights group is “in disbelief” there won’t be a decision made about greyhound racing before the election.
“To kick the can down the road is a complete dereliction of responsibility, that leaves greyhounds exposed to continued mistreatment, injuries and death,” de Roo told Newsroom.
She said SAFE and the tens of thousands of New Zealanders who signed a petition to ban greyhound racing placed “trust in the Government to do the right thing and protect greyhounds”.
“This feels like betrayal,” de Roo told Newsroom.
The greyhound racing industry has been under the spotlight after serious concerns were first raised about the safety of dogs and what happens to them when they’re retired.
Former Minister for Racing, Grant Robertson, initiated a review into the industry which concluded in July 2021 and put the sport on notice to make improvements.
Subsequently the Racing Industry Board report was commissioned to determine whether the improvements outlined had been met.
McAnulty told Newsroom the report’s findings, “alongside consultation with the industry and welfare groups” will form the basis of his recommendation to Cabinet on the future of greyhound racing.
While the issue remains a “priority”, McAnulty says the consultation required and timings around the Racing Industry Board report going to Cabinet and being publicly released means no final decision on the industry will be made before the election.
“But we remain committed to reaching a decision as soon as we are able,” he said.
In the meantime McAnulty has asked the Racing Industry Board to recommence its quarterly reports to keep tabs on the industry.
Earlier this month a greyhound was euthanised after suffering a leg fracture during a re-qualifying trial in Waikato.
At the time de Roo said there had been “no let-up of severe injuries” within the greyhound industry.
Delays in papers going to Cabinet have come about as the Government responds to significant events like Cyclone Gabrielle, and focuses on bread-and-butter issues under the new leadership of Chris Hipkins.
That could see Cabinet’s decision on the greyhound industry pushed out further as the Prime Minister prioritises policy and avoids any unnecessary distractions.