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Dwarf race sparks controversy -

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ELEANOR HALL: To Melbourne now and Racing Victoria says it won't be a feature of next year's Spring
Racing Carnival, but its dwarf racing competition has infuriated Victoria's Racing Minister Rob
Hulls who says it's an embarrassment that will do nothing to promote the industry.

In Melbourne, Alison Caldwell reports.

ALISON CALDWELL: The dwarf's race at the Cranbourne Cup on Sunday in Melbourne's south-east was the
brainchild of Racing Victoria's marketing team and their online spruiker Tommy Little.

The race involved three dwarves dressed in jockey silks riding on the backs of three punters down a
50 metre course.

The aim was to promote Victoria's Spring Carnival.

LITTLE CUP JOCKEY: I'm very confident 'cause I'm the only girl, you know, I can't wait. It'll be
good.

RADIO PRESENTER: You've got a bit of a size advantage on these guys as well. Are you the lightest
of these three.

LITTLE CUP JOCKEY: I'm 47 kilos. So...

RADIO PRESENTER: How are you going Jeremy?

JEREMY HALLAM: Forty.

RADIO PRESENTER: Forty! Jeremy.

LITTLE CUP JOCKEY: But I've had two children.

RADIO PRESENTER: Now Arty, you look like you're ready, you look like you're chomping at the bit
ready to get into this race. Are you confident?

ARTY: I'm ready to ride. You know what I mean?

ALISON CALDWELL: But the race has sparked controversy on Melbourne radio and in newspapers today,
with some declaring the stunt offensive and unacceptable.

James Whitaker is with the group Short Statured People of Australia.

JAMES WHITAKER: It's just unacceptable and inappropriate because in a sense it's like we're back on
the stage there or back on the circus again trying to entertain. You know, not everyone has a
mature mindset. They may not think, well this is just a bit of fun. Sometimes that can carry over
into real life and yeah, I just think, as an association, we want to be treated, you know, I guess
the word is dignity. We want to be treated with respect and dignity.

ALISON CALDWELL: The SSPA was formed in 1968.

James Whitaker says the Little Cup has wound the clock back 40 years and stereotypes dwarves as
circus acts.

JAMES WHITAKER: Yeah, I was quite shocked. As far as I'm concerned, in this country anyway, for 40
years we've been trying to fight towards, we've been fighting for our motto "equality" for 40 years
now.

ROB HULLS: Well look there's often a fine line between a bit of fun and a silly stunt and I think
this falls into the latter category.

ALISON CALDWELL: Victoria's Racing Minister Rob Hulls says the race was an embarrassment.

ROB HULLS: I simply say, come on, this sort of entertainment is certainly not going to promote our
great Spring Carnival around the world. I mean the Midget's Cup for goodness sake. It's certainly
no way of promoting this great Spring Carnival right around the world, right around Australia and
right throughout Victoria

ALISON CALDWELL: After the race the three jockeys were asked if they enjoyed the meet.

ARTY: Guys, did we have fun today?

ALL: Yeah!

ALISON CALDWELL: James Whitaker says the race reminded him of last week's controversial red faces
skit in which contestants blacked out their faces to impersonate the Jackson Five.

JAMES WHITAKER: I see that as a direct parallel as to what's happening to the short statured
community with this particular stunt. So yeah, I think it's very relevant.

ALISON CALDWELL: Racing Victoria's marketing manager is Stuart Laing. He can't see the comparison
with the Hey, Hey it's Saturday skit.

STUART LAING: I can understand that people are trying to make the connection but I don't think
there's any connection whatsoever given that was about someone who's deceased and, you know, we
certainly weren't painting people's faces.

ALISON CALDWELL: Of course you would have noticed the view of the Short Statured People of
Australia which represents dwarves. They've said it's downgrading and that they want to be taken
seriously.

STUART LAING: Well look the people involved were consenting adults and took part of their own free
will and they certainly enjoyed what was involved in it. We understand that you can't please
everyone and if anyone's offended by the events of Sunday then we apologise to them.

Overwhelmingly, though, the feedback that we're getting is, hey, you know, this is a bit of
harmless fun, no harm done.

ALISON CALDWELL: Do you think you'll do it again next year.

STUART LAING: It's been done so there's no need to do it again.

ELEANOR HALL: The man who came up with the stunt, Racing Victoria's marketing manager Stuart Laing,
speaking to Alison Caldwell.