Political heavyweights have united behind Australia’s under-fire horse racing industry, with fresh welfare concerns failing to spook lawmakers.
Racing figures met with political leaders from both sides of the divide on Tuesday night for an annual event at Parliament House in Canberra.
The event followed last week’s 7.30 investigation, showing graphic footage of workers at the Meramist abattoir north of Brisbane tormenting retired thoroughbreds and standardbreds before they were killed.
Deputy prime minister Michael McCormack said no “self-respecting person” in racing wanted to see horses treated that way.
“It’s just not the way racing does things,” he said.
The Nationals leader noted the economic importance of the racing and breeding industries in rural communities across Australia, including his Riverina electorate.
“This government will always back you every step of the way, I know I share bipartisanship when I say that,” McCormack said.
With the Melbourne and Sydney spring carnivals in full swing, the ABC expose put the treatment of racehorses back in the spotlight.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese was confident Australian racing would work its “butt off” to address wastage, as the multibillion-dollar industry couldn’t afford the “taint”.
“I say on behalf of the Labor Party, it’s good you’ve got on the front foot,” he said.
“It’s important governments take action where appropriate as well.”
The event was organised by Thoroughbred Breeders Australia, who have called for the establishment of a national welfare task force.
TBA chief executive Tom Reilly echoed Albanese’s words, saying the racing scene would be “judged” on its response to the scandal.
“We must address the issues the ABC has raised,” he said.
Other notable guests included Foreign Affairs Minister and horse breeder Marise Payne, Nationals MP and part-owner of Cox Plate runner Kings Will Dream Damian Drum along with Labor senators Anthony Chisholm and Raff Ciccone.