Dr MEHREEN FARUQI (23:15:53): By leave: I move The Greens amendments Nos 1 to 3 on sheet C2018-057B in globo:
No. 1 Removal of requirement to muzzle greyhounds
Page 2, clause 3, line 7. Omit “Schedule 7.3 ”. Insert instead “Schedule 7.3 – and 7.4  and ”.
No. 2 Removal of requirement to muzzle greyhounds
Page 2. Insert after line 7:
4 Amendment of Companion Animals Regulation 2008
The Companion Animals Regulation 2008 is amended by omitting clause 33B (Exemption from muzzling for certain greyhounds).
No. 3 Removal of requirement to muzzle greyhounds
Page 8, Schedule 1. Insert after line 15:
Section 15 Certain breeds of dogs to be muzzled
Omit “greyhound and any other” from section 15 (1).
Section 15 (2)
Omit “greyhound or other” wherever occurring.
Section 15 (3)
Insert “(other than a greyhound)” after “description of dog”.
Section 23 Disqualification from owning or being in charge of dog
Omit “Greyhounds and other breeds” from section 23 (2) (a).
Insert instead “Certain breeds of dogs”.
There is not much at all that the greyhound racing industry and I agree on, but the need to remove the mandatory muzzling of pet greyhounds is one thing. The amendments before the Committee will do exactly that. Amendments Nos 2 and 3 establish a new scheme for muzzling so that greyhounds are not required to be muzzled, and amendment No. 1 amends the Greyhound Racing Act 2017 to prevent not-yet commenced provisions that would still require greyhound muzzling from taking effect and, if effected, cancels the new scheme. Section 15 of the Companion Animals Act 1998 requires greyhounds to be muzzled in public unless they have gone through the industry-managed Greenhounds program. I should at the outset declare a bit of a conflict of interest. I have a beautiful rescue greyhound named Cosmo, who has, however, passed the Greenhounds test already.
The Hon. Mick Veitch: What is his name?
Dr MEHREEN FARUQI: Cosmo. He is not required to be muzzled anymore. But many greyhound owners, both those within the greyhound racing industry and those who rescue the dogs, have told me that the cost of the program is prohibitive. Many others do not want any money going into the industry program. No-one is really sure why this law exists, but it certainly predates the reality that many greyhounds rescued from racing are living and thriving in the community. Mandatory muzzling of greyhounds in public perpetuates the myth that greyhounds are inherently dangerous, which, in turn, drives down adoption rates. With the Government choosing to reinstate greyhound racing and failing to introduce a breeding cap, more greyhounds than ever before are going to need to be rehomed. This change is required urgently. The archaic, blanket rule for all greyhounds is unnecessary and any muzzling requirement should be based on the behaviour of individual dogs.
The Australian Capital Territory found that the mandatory muzzling of greyhounds in public was completely unnecessary and removed the requirement from the law last year. RSPCA Australia is also supportive of removing this section of the law, stating that there is no evidence to show that greyhounds as a breed pose a greater risk to the public than any other dog breed or mix of breeds and the compulsory muzzling of pet greyhounds in public occurs only in Australia and Northern Ireland. RSPCA Australia has not identified any evidence of increased safety risks or incidence issues arising from the absence of compulsory muzzling of pet greyhounds in public places in other countries. Victoria has followed suit, with the muzzle requirement to be removed from January next year. The RSPCA has said that currently a non-muzzled greyhound will find a home in under a fortnight, while those forced to wear the device may not be adopted for more than 40 days.
Neither Victoria nor the ACT needed any muzzling frameworks, as the Minister alluded to earlier. Meanwhile, here in New South Wales it has been more than a year since the Government accepted the Greyhound Industry Reform Panel recommendation to remove muzzling requirements for greyhounds that are pets. I contacted the Minister for Local Government’s office about this amendment. I thank her and a senior advisor for their response. They indicated that processes were underway behind the scenes, including integrating the greyhound racing register and the NSW Companion Animals Register, and developing assessment and training processes for greyhounds to be eligible for registration as a companion animal. I understand that they are looking at this process to be completed by 2019, which would be 2½ years after the recommendations.
I do not believe the integration of registers needs to be undertaken before removal of muzzling requirements. It has no significance for muzzling requirements to be removed. The reality is that greyhounds are already companion animals, so whether they are muzzled or not is inconsequential to this project. The second point about developing assessment and training processes for greyhounds to be eligible for registration as a companion animal is deeply concerning for me, and indicates that the Government intends to put up another barrier to the adoption of greyhounds. We already have a process called “Greenhounds”, which is exactly the process we are trying to remove. The last thing people want is to have to replicate this collar program yet again. Of course we need an assessment of dogs because we know that some greyhounds are so traumatised by the racing industry that, unfortunately, they cannot be rehomed.
We should apply the same standards of community safety that we apply to other dogs in the community. We should not presume that all greyhounds are dangerous and need to be muzzled. The rehoming groups and owners can make that decision themselves, as they would with any other dog. The change in legislation would not compel greyhound owners to not muzzle their dogs, it just gives them the choice to decide. Victoria has taken this approach and simply said that all greyhounds will be muzzle free from 1 January next year. The Australian Capital Territory has taken the same approach, with no parallel program in place. While I appreciate the response of the Minister, I do not think it is reason enough to continue to delay this matter. I commend the amendments to the Committee.