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7The Independent Weekly
December 4 - 10, 2009
Oakbank under threat
Strike action delays SA uni results
One person s sport is a second
person s ethical outrage and a
third person s livelihood.
So it is with jumps racing.
As a group of about 50 protesters
stood in front of parliament and
yelled "ban jumps racing" earlier
this week, John Glatz was at his
Adelaide Hills property tending his
Mr Glatz has trained racers
for more than 40 years and is the
chairman of the Oakbank Racing
Jumps racing is his passion. He
can trace its history to the 15th
century in Europe and eagerly
catalogues its development in
Australia, where it was the first
form of racing.
Jumps racing is also a passion
for Colin Thomas. Mr Thomas is
the spokesperson for the Coalition
for the Protection of Racehorses in
SA and lists grisly statistics about
horse deaths and injuries in the
sport. He has spent endless hours
trying to get it declared unethical
and illegal in SA.
The racing industry has been
resisting pressure from people like
Mr Thomas for a long time, but last
week Racing Victoria gave in and
announced there would be no more
jumps racing there after the 2010
The decision follows a review of
jumps racing which showed it was
getting more dangerous for horses.
"Despite the implementation of
all the safety recommendations of
the Jones Report conducted in 2008,
the incidence of falls and fatalities
has continued to increase," said
Racing Victoria chairman Michael
Mr Thomas and the Coalition for
the Protection of Racehorses was
pushing for Thoroughbred Racing
SA to follow suit.
"We don t believe any animal
should suffer broken pelvises,
broken hips and fractured spines
all for the sake of having a few bob
each way," he said.
Thoroughbred Racing is stand-
ing firm, but finds the Victorian
"We re building the industry and
our plan is to see what happens in
Victoria," said chair Philip Bentley.
"If the Victorian decision is not
overturned and if they stay with
their announcement to phase out
jumps racing then it will make
the future of jumps racing in SA a
At the Parliament House
protest on Tuesday, the Coalition
for the Protection of Racehorses
presented a petition of 5000
signatures to Greens MLC Mark
Mr Parnell and Independent MLC
David Winderlich will lobby the
Government to outlaw the sport.
"The death toll is too high. You
can t have an organised, structured
sport which is based on the guaran-
teed high death toll of the animal
involved," said Mr Winderlich, who
plans to introduce a Bill prohibiting
jumps racing if he is re-elected.
Mr Glatz believes the death
toll can be lowered without banning
the sport if different fences are
"It just needs some modifica-
tions," he said. "We went the wrong
way after some of the reviews
and made the fences soft and low.
America has very big and solid
steeplechase fences. They do go
slower over there and it s a different
If horses are travelling slower, Mr
Glatz said fewer would hit fences
and there would be fewer falls and
Mr Thomas said the time to
modify and improve the sport was
"They ve had three reviews
which recommended a raft of
changes. Those changes have
always been implemented and the
results have shown that the death
rates are still the worst in 35 years,"
With Victorian jumps racing
on the way out, it seems the SA
industry is on borrowed time.
Trainers and horses travel con-
stantly between states and without
the Victorian members and courses
SA will struggle to pull together a
A ban on jumps racing will save
some horses from death on the
track, and simultaneously will
relegate an industry to history.
Industrial action preventing
some university students from
accessing their results is expected
to continue into the New Year,
as universities and unions tussle
over pay and working conditions.
Students at UniSA and Flinders
University have been hit by
National Tertiary Education Union
bans on releasing assessment
results, throwing student prepara-
tions for 2010 into turmoil.
No bans are in place at Adelaide
University, with the union satisfied
with the progress of negotiations.
Union representatives for
UniSA and Flinders University
have said the industrial action will
continue indefinitely, although
Flinders University s NTEU branch
has applied a blanket exemption for
all graduating students.
The industrial action will have
significant consequences for
UniSA students looking for work or
applying for scholarships or further
Head of negotiations at UniSA
Professor Gerry Griffin said the
union action had been "terribly
disappointing", but he did not
expect it to affect a large number of
students due to low union member-
ship among staff.
The results ban has threatened
graduation plans for many
international students, with a
planned ceremony for December 22
now in doubt.
"Many of these students have
prepared mums and dads and
siblings to come to Australia to
attend, and these kids are really
worried and concerned," Prof
The results ban will also affect
students looking to re-enrol for the
next year, a potential trigger point
for dropping the ban at Flinders
"There will come a point
at which it will cause serious
student difficulty and we are
operating under a policy not to
interrupt student studies too much,
so there will come a point where
we will drop the ban and rely on
other industrial action," said the
vice-president of the Flinders
NTEU branch, Associate Professor
Prof Hunt suggested this could be
towards the end of the re-enrolment
period, which begins in December.
He said the union had taken
action over the university s
"unsatisfactory salary offer... and
the refusal of the university to
consider a number of changes we
Prof Hunt said union members
felt casual staff members had been
exploited and, without an increase
in salary, Flinders would struggle to
attract and retain quality teachers.
The university is not comment-
ing publicly on the dispute.
"Ban jumps racing!": Coalition for the
Protection of Racehorses SA protesters
on the steps of Parliament House.
Oakbank, but don't bank on its future.
Photos: Kate Elmes
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