In Australia, New South Wales Premier Mike Baird is being urged to re-think instituting a coming ban on greyhound racing amid warnings that the controversial prohibition could lead to the state’s ruling coalition government losing an upcoming by-election.
According to a report from The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, Andrew Fraser, a member of the National Party Of Australia and state representative for the largely rural constituency of Coffs Harbour, has stated in a leaked e-mail that the imminent ban is unpopular and could see his party struggle to retain its usually safe seat of Orange at a November 12 by-election.
Baird’s Liberal Party government rules New South Wales in partnership with the smaller National Party Of Australia with Fraser writing in the e-mail sent to the Premier along with his deputy, Troy Grant, and the Cabinet that the decision to ban greyhound racing from July of 2017 “has completely reversed our political fortune” and has made the Orange election “unwinnable”.
“I believe that the greyhound legislation has been the catalyst [that] put us in this position,” wrote Fraser.
Instead of an outright ban, Fraser has suggested that the government adopt a reform package proposed by the New South Wales Greyhound Industry Alliance that would “reduce the number of races, the number of dogs and the number of tracks”. He wrote that the government could additionally pass legislation that would levy “a very large fine, a jail term and a life ban from the industry” to “any person in the industry who wastes a dog inhumanely or live baits”.
Fraser used his e-mail to moreover propose that the greyhound racing industry be shut down if there was “the inhumane destruction of dogs or live baiting” and proclaimed that there was “no shame in taking this action” as “we can clearly indicate that as a government we have listened and acted accordingly”.
“We have to resolve this issue as we are facing a political disaster,” wrote Fraser.
Baird’s ban followed a special commission of inquiry report that found up to 68,000 dogs had been slaughtered as “wastage” over the past twelve years “because they were considered too slow to pay their way or were unsuitable for racing”. It recommended that the state’s parliament decide whether the industry had lost its social licence and should be allowed to operate.
But, New South Wales is the nation’s biggest greyhound-breeding state and it is feared the prohibition could lead to up to 10,000 job losses alongside $254 million in annual lost revenues. Several state representatives from the National Party Of Australia broke ranks to publicly oppose the ban in July while a trio encompassing Kevin Humphries, Katrina Hodgkinson and Chris Gulaptis crossed the floor to vote against the measure, which was supported by 48 votes to 35.