Stop the Racing Industry

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With untouched environments becoming increasingly scarce and valued in Australia, how can one of the pristine areas and gems of South West Victoria be gifted to a gambling, racing industry? 

This is a sacred area, for both native protected wildlife and visitors. This area is recognised by aboriginal elders as being a sight of significant cultural and historic importance. Thomas Clarke, of the Kirrae Whurrong people has stated that this area is "one of the last remnants of where our culture lay".

With little to no recognition or celebration of aboriginal tribes even existing in Warrnambool, this is a devastating blow and heartbreaking outcome. To highlight how disgraceful this decision is by racing community, Rob Lowe Senior (Peek Whurrung Elder) has previously highlighted the massacres of aborigines during white settlement. One massacre is located directly beside the Warrnambool Racecourse.

The Belfast area is the location for numerous and aboriginal murders and massacres that occurred during white settlement when the land was divided and sold. Still, the exact same area of land is being fought after, the same behavior continues. How can a gambling industry have any influence on such land? 

How can a group of elite few continue to dictate the use of this area? The home of ancient sand dune, protected species and delicate ecosystems? The racecourse industry are not stakeholders of the environment or have any consideration, respect or prior care for this area. They are not the decision makers of such areas and do not deserve access or influence to this area. 

Up to 160 horses a day may use the beaches and dunes in the recovering landscape that was set aside for conservation and recreation. This will not only cause devastation to the dunes but set a precedent for following reserves in Victoria. In the Belfast Coastal Reserve Management Plan, the report identified 'Habitat degradation from commercial activities from the Disturbance from horse training activities to be high-extreme and a key threat to the reserve'. 

In a small town where the economy is driven by agriculture, the local council is inclined to support such industries for the rebuttal of the economic benefit. I want to ask you, at what price is our environment worth? At what price is the preservation of our natural environment?

After Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, wrote to Warrnambool council to advise them advising them he was going to use ministerial powers to amend the Warrnambool Planning Scheme to remove the prohibition. Five days later, the council held a meeting to back his plan. This issue has already been resolved in 2016 by council by stating the concerns from Aboriginal Victoria who expressed this area was culturally important. 

There has been immense local support against this decision which has been simply ignored. This sets a precedent that one's environmental concerns and wishes can be muted by money. If these industries had the best interest for the Warrnambool community, why are the responses of the community members being ignored? Why go directly to Richard Wynne? 

With ecotourism on the rise and with the tourism industry in Warrnambool generating almost three times the amount racing does, the argument that racehorses hold financial priority is... horseshit. The racing industry currently has access to numerous beach locations and professionally built facilities. This proposal will bring no benefit to the majority of the community and solely caters to an elite minority who have operated fine without it. Horse riders have stated previously that this area was dangerous to one another due to the large numbers it attracted. 

What I want is your support. By saying no to horses on beaches, you're saying no to an industry driven by greed and corruption that have forced their agenda in one of the most pristine and sacred areas of the region in South West Victoria. 

Please sign this petition below as well and use the hashtag when sharing on social media #noracehorsesonbeaches

http://chng.it/f6BR5NF5L4

For information about the reserve 
https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/725669/Belfast_Coastal_Reserve_Management_Plan.pdf



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