GOAT racing in Roma is finished after extremist organisation Animal Liberation forced Qantas into turning their back on Easter in the Country.
The animal welfare lobby group is claiming victory after Qantas refused to sponsor the 2013 Easter event over concerns their 2012 prize money was spend on the goat races.
Animal Lib said that after several phone calls between them and Qantas, the airline had agreed not to sponsor any further goat racing events.
Their statement went on to make a number of wild and false claims about the Roma event.
"Frightened goats are captured, auctioned, harassed and distressed, dragged across a raceway and harnessed to a cart for the 'jockey'," Animal Lib said.
Animal Lib said they were disappointed Origin had refused to withdraw its sponsorship of the event.
While Qantas were anxious to placate Animal Liberation, they have shown contempt for the people of Roma and have refused to answer questions from the Western Star.
The airline did not deny they had changed their policy at Animal Liberation's request nor did they have any evidence of any ethical concerns or cruelty in Roma.
Qantas has also refused to confirm whether they had taken the wishes of the people of Roma into account in their decision.
The Easter in the Country committee has refused to comment however it has confirmed there will be no goat racing this year or in 2014.
"We are revamping and renewing the program," EITC president Jenny Flynn said.
"We are fully supportive of those companies that continue to support Easter in the Country."
Instead of goat racing, there will be a focus on street events and public theatre.
Western Star reader Gigi Robertson, who alerted us to the Animal Lib statement, said Qantas' decision was the start of a slippery slope.
"Don't be fooled," Ms Robertson said.
"It will be the rodeo, bull ride, campdraft and races next."
Ms Flynn said the Easter bull ride, rodeo and races were not organised by the EITC committee.
"What they do is up to them," she said.
Questions the Western Star asked Qantas:
1 What "ethical concerns" is Qantas aware of in relation to the Roma goat races?
2 Why was it necessary for the Easter in the Country organisers to inform Qantas the prize was use for a goat race winner?
3 Why is Qantas agreeing policy on the fly under pressure from extremist organisations?
4 When it comes to "community concerns" has Qantas taken into account the concerns of the people of Roma who love the goat races and the great atmosphere in town it generates?
5 Has anyone from Qantas actually been at a goat race to check out some of the absurd claims from Animal Liberation or was it simply a case the company did not want the bad press in big cities?
Qantas' dismissive reply:
"Qantas shares the community's concerns regarding the ethical treatment of animals. As background, Qantas has previously sponsored Roma's Easter in the Country Festival by providing the organisers with return air fares. In 2012, the organisers made the decision to use some of these air fares as prizes for the Goat Races, without consulting Qantas. Qantas is not a sponsor of the 2013 Easter in the Country Festival."
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