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Animal welfare concerns dismissed as councillors back greyhounds returning to Orange

March 7, 2023

Photo: GBOTA.

By David Fitzsimons

A proposal for a $15 million greyhound racing centre of excellence at the former trotting track in Orange was backed by Orange City Council at Tuesday night's meeting.

Council was told the 8-10-hectare facility would provide an annual $20 million boost to the local economy with 20 full-time jobs.

That’s on top of $10 million in construction costs, which would provide 40 full-time jobs.

The support at Tuesday night’s meeting came despite concerns being raised over animal welfare.

And it has cast doubts over plans for a motorsport park for karts and motorcycles at the same site.

The NSW Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers’ Association (GBOTA) is considering whether to build a centre of excellence in Bathurst or Orange.

Apart from a race track there would also be a veterinary centre, administration centre and ancillary facilities at the centre of excellence.

GBOTA CEO Allan Hilzinger told councillors and a large group of greyhound supporters at the council meeting his group wanted to get started on the project as soon as possible.

Hilzinger said greyhound racing was a major industry in the state providing jobs, tourism, economic benefits and international promotion through race broadcasting.

He said the centre of excellence would have at least one meeting a week and bring in $20 million to the local economy.

Hilzinger said GBOTA could work with the motorsport group to potentially share part of the venue.

Councillor Jeff Whitton said greyhound racing had a history in Orange stretching back more than a century and this facility was a “great opportunity” to reinstate that heritage.

Greyhound racing was previously held at Wade Park.

Councillor Glenn Floyd said if the facility did not come to Orange it would go elsewhere in the Central West.

“Why should we be followers when we can be leaders,” he said.

Mayor Jason Hamling and councillor Tammy Greenhalgh said the motorsport park was a separate issue.

An amendment by councillor Steve Peterson to back the greyhound park but not at the trotting track site was not passed.

“This is because the ongoing process has been run over many years by the Orange Motorcycle Club for their Moto Park at this site,” he said. He said councillors had supported the Moto Park during the last election campaign.

“This amendment would allow us to backup those words with some actions without impeding on a greyhound centre of excellence and the benefits it would bring to Orange,” he said.

Councillor David Mallard said there were “systemic problems relating to animal welfare and treatment” in greyhound racing.

“There were four on-track deaths at the Bathurst track in 2022,” he said.

Councillor Kevin Duffy said Orange should not miss this opportunity.

“I want Orange to have this facility here,” he said.

Support for the plan was also given in the council’s public forum by the member for Orange Phil Donato, who said he was a strong supporter of greyhound racing.

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