Animal justice group calls for end to Cup Day holiday
THE Animal Justice Party Coffs Harbour Regional Group has weighed into the Coffs Cup half-day holiday debate.
The contentious issue is back on Coffs Harbour City Council's agenda with a call for public submissions to help gauge the community's appetite for a potential change to the longstanding holiday.
The Coffs Harbour Gold Cup is held annually on the first Thursday in August.
The half-day holiday has been in place since 1971.
The Public Holidays Act 2010 requires council to apply for the holiday each year but some councillors believe a more flexible 'event day' status would be less disruptive.
The public holiday leads to significant disruption for school communities with buses only available in the morning to take students to school but not back home again in the afternoon.
There is also an obvious impact on businesses in relation to penalty rates.
For the Animal Justice Party Coffs Harbour Regional Group the issue is about what they see as the cruel nature of the sport and its association with gambling and alcohol consumption.
The group says thousands of racehorses who don't make the grade are being sent to knackeries and slaughterhouses where they're killed for dog meat and human consumption.
They say horses are the only animals who are beaten in public for entertainment with whips, spurs and tongue ties routinely used to make them run faster but at the same time inflicting discomfort and pain.
"For council to apply for a holiday for a race that supports extreme cruelty and encourages alcohol consumption and gambling sends the wrong message," group representative Tess Hawkins said.
She said the ultimate irony is that schools are closed down for the event, which has such a heavy focus on alcohol and gambling, which are legally off limits for those under18.
The local branch of the Animal Justice Party formed just over a year ago and has approximately fifty members.
They have made a submission to council stating their opposition to the holiday and outlining some alternatives.
"There are much better causes for which you could have a holiday like a tree planting festival or a music festival that children could participate in."
A post on the group's Facebook page about council's public submission period in relation to the half-day holiday attracted well over 100 comments showing the depth of feeling on both sides of the debate.
"Some people have been quite aggressive and very abusive but Facebook is often a platform for that. We've had to ban a lot of them for using bad language."
The public submission period closed on Wednesday and the comments will now be collated and discussed at an upcoming council meeting.