Racing New South Wales has written to the ABC, claiming the broadcaster’s investigation into the mistreatment of racehorses breached its own standards for fairness and impartiality.
- Racing NSW claimed its CEO Peter V’landys wasn’t told about the “contentious nature” of the interview took part in
- It also claimed the program contained factual errors and that Racing NSW was blamed for matters over which it had no control
- The ABC said the complaint had been referred to its Audience and Consumer Affairs department
In October, the 7.30 program aired graphic footage showing former racehorses being mistreated and slaughtered at the Meramist abattoir in Caboolture, north of Brisbane.
It also aired claims that NSW racehorses had been sent to abattoirs, in breach of that state’s racing rules.
In response, Racing NSW chairman Russell Balding, a former ABC managing director, wrote a 21-page letter to current ABC boss David Anderson, claiming his organisation was not given adequate time to respond to the claims.
“Extremely serious allegations were made about the racehorse industry, requiring meaningful information to have been provided to Racing NSW prior to an interview being conducted and the program broadcast,” Mr Balding said.
He said the program’s interview with Racing NSW CEO Peter V’landys was “a matter of great concern” because the program did not inform Mr V’landys about the “contentious nature” of the interview.
“Only during the interview did it become clear that serious allegations were being made about the industry and in relation to Racing NSW,” Mr Balding said.
The ABC investigation revealed the widespread slaughter of racehorses for pet food and human consumption at abattoirs and knackeries in New South Wales and Queensland.
Official data promoted by the national body for thoroughbred racing, Racing Australia, says less than 1 per cent of retiring horses each year end up in an abattoir.
This amounts to 34 horses per year, however, the ABC obtained information showing that, based on a two-year investigation, the number far exceeded that.
Mr Balding’s letter of complaint cited a series of alleged factual inaccuracies and said his organisation was being blamed for matters over which it had no control.
“It is important to note that a horse having [been] born in NSW does not mean it was registered as a racehorse in NSW,” he said.
Racing NSW said any animal cruelty concerns should have been reported to authorities before the program was broadcast.
“The ABC and the ‘investigators’ could have taken timely action and reported the suffering they witnessed to authorities; action that may have resulted in the alleviation of suffering of some animals,” Mr Balding said.
The ABC has previously said it stood by its reporting of the story.
A spokesperson today confirmed the complaint had been received.
“The complaint from Racing NSW has been referred to Audience and Consumer Affairs and will be dealt with according to our usual procedures,” the ABC spokesperson said.