The nation has been stopped. The horses have raced, the jockeys have whipped, the punters have bet their dollar bills and wept their losses or celebrated their wins and the spectators have drunk themselves into a stumbling stupor. The hugely popular Melbourne Cup event is done and dusted for another year.
But while 100,000+ people crowded Flemington Racecourse to watch the action live and millions of others around Australia knocked off at midday to head to their nearest TAB, a hefty number of individuals (and organisations) protested against the industry.
— Animals Australia (@AnimalsAus) October 31, 2016
Don’t do the Melbourne Cup. Horse racing is not cool. Plus it’s like the only time gambling is glamorized.
— Sam Smith (@sgowsmith1988) November 1, 2016
— Tom Simak (@TomSimak) October 31, 2016
Horse racing has been around for centuries. It’s an ancient form of entertainment that is becoming more heavily scrutinised as the years pass by. Arguments against the industry range from the breeding of hundreds of thousands of horses, to the inhumane practices carried out on the tracks, to the devastating fate of horses and foals deemed unfit to race.
As with any issue regarding animal welfare, these arguments have been rebutted by supporters of the racing industry. But how futile are their confutations?
Here’s a few of the arguments I’ve heard/read/received from people defending the race… and my arguments against their arguments for.
1. It creates essential revenue for the Australian economy
$$ > morals is the one of the biggest flaws of human evolution.
Yes, the Melbourne Cup brings a disturbingly large sum of $1.7 billion into the economy each year, but it also spends quite a lotta cash too (cough 6 million prize moneys cough). I’m not much of an economics whiz but I do know that just because an industry pours money into the economy does not make it viable or sustainable in any way. What’s that saying about the rich getting richer?
2. Thousands of employees would lose their jobs if the industry collapsed
First of all, people lose their jobs (& families) because of gambling addictions every day. Who do you think would face a bigger struggle to pick up work – someone who fell deep into the black hole galaxy of gambling (whilst possibly developing some untrustworthy traits along the way); or someone who was inconveniently caught up in working for a cruel and outdated industry that all came to a crashing end?
Secondly, society is constantly changing and evolving and old fashioned jobs are being culled while newer, more technologically advanced jobs are being created. For the horse racing industry to continue just so a couple thousand people can keep promoting their “responsible betting” tactics is a ridiculous notion.
3. “It’s tradition”
So bloody what? We’ve managed to overrule and outlaw a ton of other traditional events over time, why should this one be any different? Because of the money and employment opportunities it brings? Please refer to my aforementioned ripostes. I think people are forgetting that certain historical date in late January that we somehow managed to transform into a sausage-sizzle-filled day of celebration.
4. It’s a bloody good time / we want to keep the public holiday
The most futile argument yet. I vote we do what Dave Callan suggests and keep the public holiday + typical Aussie shenanigans but change the logistics of it all (have a read, he’s right on the money I reckon).
I know it may be frustrating to see your precious newsfeed flooding with negative facts & figures about one of your fav events of the year but unless you are a shallow hearted, bloodlust caveman you’ve gotta admit – the evidence is brutal but it’s honest.
The more people who spread awareness of the cruelty behind-the-scenes or propose a ban on traditional events like this one, the better chance we have at finding replacements for them – replacements that don’t involve the unnecessary suffering of our furry friends or encourage bad lifestyle choices.
Please, before you pull your money out of your pockets next year, consider the fact that you’re betting on the livelihood of these innocent creatures – and the real outcomes of the race yield no winners.