'Industrial scale' slaughter of Australian racehorses revealed

Nellie Chapman
October 18, 2019

The ABC's 7.30 program was given hidden-camera video taken at the Meramist Abattoir in Caboolture, which showed former racehorses being kicked, dragged, shocked and slaughtered. The horses had won combined prize money of nearly $5 million before their owners decided they'd outlived their usefulness.

Elio Celotto, from the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses, said his organisation had been watching and recording the daily activities of the Queensland's Meramist Abattoir for the past two years.

Slaughter of racehorses is not illegal in Australia but it is against Racing NSW's policy which specifies that all retired racehorses should be rehomed.

"They'll be working. with the Queensland Police Service to retrieve any extra footage that was not screened by the ABC", Mr Hinchliffe said.

Using information from undercover investigators, the 7.30 investigation concluded almost 300 former racehorses were channeled through Queensland's Meramist Abattoir in 22 days.

"I know that Peter V'landys or any of the other CEO's across the country of Australia do everything they can to ensure the sport of racing thrives and flourishes, but also that the responsibility for equine welfare is as high as possible within their jurisdiction".

The distressing footage has caused a political shockwave, with at least one federal senator calling for the national government to intervene in the industry, which is usually managed by state authorities.

The industry has long drawn criticism from animal welfare groups.

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Nevertheless, Mr Papalia said he had directed Mr Burt to investigate and confirm similar practices were not occurring in WA.

The report also raised questions about Racing Australia's claims about the rehoming of retired racehorses.

Mr O'Farrell on Friday said the national racing body had checks and balances but "no legal right or power" when it came to on-selling horses after retirement.

"Despite repeated requests from Racing NSW, the ABC has not returned Racing NSW calls so that Racing NSW could correct some of the incorrect facts that were subsequently aired and to provide any evidence so that Racing NSW can successfully investigate and prosecute breaches of the Rules of Racing", he said.

Since 2016, Racing NSW has dedicated one per cent of all prize money, equating to about $2.5 million, to a thoroughbred welfare fund and has purchased over 2500 acres of NSW property for its re-homing program. An estimated 500 horses a month are processed at the facility.

"No living creature should be subjected to the kind of cruelty shown on the program and the Victoria Racing Club fully supports the actions of Racing Victoria to call for a coordinated approach to the care of horses after their racing careers are over".

Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson said he was "sickened by the horrific images".

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