(Image: AAP/Michael Dodge)

Victorian Racing Minister Martin Pakula's decision yesterday to allow hundreds of "connections" to attend horse races while the rest of Victoria remained in a slightly ameliorated lockdown -- a decision hastily reversed after a social media explosion -- is only the latest indulgence afforded to the animal racing industry by a government totally captive to it.

Whole industries in Victoria have been shut down to prevent the spread of infection; others, such as construction, which have had little or no infection, have had to significantly restrict operations. But horse and dog racing have been allowed to continue, albeit without crowds, right through the pandemic even as Victorians were subjected to a curfew and a five-kilometre radius for travel.

On August 3 Premier Daniel Andrews even omitted racing from the "non-essential" industries that would be forced to stop operating. In doing so, he admitted that horse and dog owners would butcher their animals if they weren't allowed to race them: "There are some very significant animal welfare challenges there."