From the correspondence that several people have been kind enough to share with me, there seems to be a growing possibility that the Labor Government is going to support the Green Party’s Bill before the South Australian Parliament to outlaw jumps racing in SA. In a move that would appear to have the explicit support of the Premier and Racing Minister, it is not unreasonable to assume that backbench Labor MPs (with a couple of notable exceptions) will shuffle into line and support the Bill as well.
Therefore, increased lobbying of Opposition Liberal MPs needs to take place in the hope of obtaining their support to oppose the Bill.
To this end, I have penned a form letter below that people may find useful in writing to State Liberal MPs and independent members. Please feel free to copy or adapt the letter as you see fit—the important thing is to ensure that legislators in South Australia know the level of support for jumps racing in our state, and what will be the consequences of its demise.
I am writing to urge you to reject the Bill that is being brought before the Parliament to outlaw the sport of jumps racing in South Australia.
A previous attempt to ban jumps racing in South Australia was defeated in 2011 when it was shown that, despite sometimes outrageous claims to the contrary, that there is nothing inherently cruel or dangerous in the sport of jumps racing and that the welfare of equine athletes is always at the forefront of how the industry is operated.
Since that time, however, there have been further improvements in the regulation of the industry and so, if anything, the sport is even safer now than it was then. To move against jumps racing now seems illogical, when creditable statistics show that jumps races have accounted for only 0.67% of fatalities in racing in this State over the last decade. Jumps racing is demonstrably safer in 2015 than it was in 2011 when the previous Bill was defeated through a lack of credible evidence, and therefore logic would seem to dictate that the introduction of this new Bill now is not only unnecessary, but entirely ideological.
The Bill is being brought to the Parliament by Tammy Franks MLC and would also appear—somewhat paradoxically—to have the support of the Racing Minister, a person whom it is reasonable to expect should have the interests of the entire racing industry at heart, rather than those of pressure groups instinctively and ideologically opposed to all aspects of horse racing.
This somewhat surprising alliance has meant that the jumps racing fraternity in South Australia does not have a significant voice in the legislature representing its interests. Pressure groups and those with no experience of or expertise in the sport of jumps racing (or any other equine activity, for that matter) are disproportionately dominating the debate.
Jumps racing has a long and glorious tradition in our state, exemplified by the institution that is the Oakbank Racing Carnival, along with more recent highlights on the SA racing calendar, such as Irish Race Day at Morphettville.
The sport’s demise would leave a significant hole in the winter racing program, where attendances and turnover are already in decline, and would further disincentive owners, trainers and jockeys from establishing a base in South Australia, to the ongoing detriment of the entire racing industry. In addition, a ban while the sport is still active may well open the State to compensation claims from owners, trainers, jockeys, strappers and others whose livelihoods in some way depend on the sport.
Government policy in South Australia has hitherto been that the future of jumps racing in South Australia is a matter for the governing body, Thoroughbred Racing SA, an arrangement that has worked perfectly well until the recent interventions of the Racing Minister. I would respectfully urge you, in rejecting this Bill, to help ensure that this remains the case, and in so doing thwart yet another government attempt to legislate against a pastime that not only has a long tradition but also contributes to the livelihood of a significant number of people in the state.
I therefore urge you in the strongest possible terms not to support the Bill being introduced by Tammy Franks MLC and to let jumps racing remain solely within the purview of TRSA.
You can find a list of the contact details of State MPs here: https://www.parliament.sa.gov.au/Members/HouseofAssembly/Pages/ContactDetails.aspx