Politician, animal activists slam Wollondilly Council's greyhound support plan

Picture: Shutterstock
Picture: Shutterstock

Wollondilly Council's plan to support the region's greyhound racing industry has drawn criticism from animal rights activists and an Animal Justice Party politician.

Upper House MP Mark Pearson MLC called on the general public to voice its concern about Wollondilly Council's plan.

The council unanimously supported a notice of motion at last night's meeting to express "its support of the greyhound industry, its breeders, trainers and its many benefits to the Wollondilly".

The motion also supported safety upgrades to the existing Thirlmere training track and bringing forward funding for the Thirlmere masterplan.

However Mr Pearson said the "divisive motion", put forward by councillor Matthew Deeth, could see the council commit resources to supporting the greyhound racing industry.

"Fifty greyhounds have died on Australian tracks since the start of the year, with close to 3000 injured," he said, citing reports from the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds.

"My question to the eight councillors at Wollondilly Council is this: do you really want to be responsible for rubber-stamping greyhound deaths in your community?"

Mr Pearson said he was alerted to the issue by a concerned member of the public, and was shocked to read the motion.

"Council exists to represent the best interests of the entire community, and this motion represents the interests of just one tiny part of the community - the greyhound industry," he said.

"We know this cruel blood-sport is doomed and that the vast majority of Australians stand with the Animal Justice Party in our opposition to this industry, so it's disturbing to see a councillor in 2021 putting forward a motion so blatantly out of touch."

Mr Pearson took to Facebook to encourage his followers to voice their concerns to council.

This led to councillors being inundated with emails against the motion.

Cr Matthew Deeth said Greyhounds NSW and the Wollondilly Greyhound Club had approached the council about works needed at the track.

"Greyhounds NSW will provide $300,000 of funding to upgrade the existing facilities at Thirlmere for the betterment of safety for the greyhounds and the industry in Wollondilly," he said.

"We also voted to bring the funding for the Thirlmere masterplan forward so we can update sporting facilities in the area and provide more fields for the range of growing sports in the region.

"We welcome proactive steps to ensure greyhound safety."

Greyhound racing was almost banned in 2016 before the decision was overturned in 2017.

Cr Deeth said he understood the passionate views of different groups on the greyhound racing industry.

"Our role as a council is to ensure we have safe facilities for all sports in our community," he said.

"Ensuring animal welfare is top priority for us and the council's role is to ensure the safety of the facilities that they (Greyhounds NSW) provide."

Wollondilly Greyhound Club vice president Jason Bolwell said Greyhounds NSW would fully fund and oversee the upgrades at the Thirlmere track.

"Thirlmere needs to meet the standards put in place by the Greyhounds Welfare Integrity Commission," he said.

"The track almost closed after the new rules were bought in but we stuck around, even though we couldn't use the track and basically lobbied Greyhounds NSW for funding.

"So now we have the funding to bring it up to standard, members will have to do courses on boxing animals, lure driving and operating the catching gate to make sure the dogs' safety is a top priority.

"The industry is all about the welfare of the dogs, which is a good thing. I think it will benefit local businesses in the community as well."

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