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Horse racing industry inquiry in Queensland yields results

THE Palaszczuk Government has endorsed all recommendations from its horse racing inquiry report and committed almost $6 million to increasing resources for animal welfare practices.

Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe and Agriculture Minister Mark Furner this week responded to the report produced by the inquiry into animal cruelty in the management of retired Thoroughbred and Standardbred horses in Queensland.

The government called the inquiry last October after the ABC's 7.30 program reported on the treatment of horses at a Queensland abattoir.

The inquiry was headed by retired district court judge Terry Martin SC, with the support of Australian Veterinary Association representative Dr Peter Reid and oversight from the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission.

The government accepted 37 recommendations in full, 17 recommendations in principle and one recommendation in part, and will provide almost $6 million to support the implementation of all 55 recommendations.

About $4.7 million will go to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and $1.2 million to the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission.

Mr Hinchliffe said the government had already placed a 1 per cent prize money levy for Thoroughbred and harness racing, expected to raise around $1.5 million to support an ongoing equine welfare program, including the retraining and rehoming of retired racehorses.

Mr Hinchliffe said placing higher standards on the industry would protect jobs.

"We want to protect animals in the industry, and we want to protect the industry itself and the employment opportunities it provides," Mr Hinchliffe said.

"Horse racing brings communities together across Queensland and more than 5000 people are directly employed because of it.

But most importantly, Queenslanders need to be confident that retired horses are treated properly."

Actions stemming from the recommendations 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; and
Additional funding for improved training for animal welfare inspectors and improvements in animal welfare complaints management.
LNP racing spokesman John-Paul Langbroek accused Labor of again 'dropping the ball' on animal welfare and integrity issues.

"QRIC was set up by the Palaszczuk Labor Government at an annual cost of $30 million to taxpayers, but it's completely failed," Mr Langbroek said.

"Instead they're throwing another $6 million at the retired racehorse issue and hoping the media focus will disappear.

"Every time there's an adverse headline, Labor hold an inquiry. Five years ago Labor established the MacSporran inquiry into greyhound cruelty yet more than half the recommendations have not yet been adopted."

Article courtesy of Australian Community Media and Queensland Country Life

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