The New South Wales (NSW) government was the first to announce that it plans to impose a blanket ban on the greyhound racing industry and shortly thereafter the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) also announced that it would shutdown greyhound racing. While both governments are yet to confirm the exact dates as to when this will be done, the shutdown is expected to be done before July 2017.
Back in 2015, the Four Corners television show on the ABC network released a documentary highlighting the extensive and widespread animal cruelty in the greyhound racing industry. The program also revealed that cheating was a big part of the industry and there was very little change for the industry to reform in the coming years. Former High Court judge Michael McHugh released a report in June stating that 68,000 greyhounds could have been wilfully killed as they no longer had it in them to race competitively.
The NSW and the ACT governments launched a special commission inquiry into the industry and have now deemed that there is significant evidence of animal cruelty in the industry and decided that a blanket ban was the only possible solution. Mike Baird, the NSW Premier stated that NSW could no longer tolerate the widespread abuse of animals and his government would work with the greyhound industry to complete the shutdown.
The news comes as a shock to the greyhound industry which has a massive following in Australia and is estimated to be a $335 million industry in NSW, generating 2,700 full time jobs and $179 million in wages based on a 2014 IER consultants report. The decision to ban greyhound racing in NSW has received a lot of criticism from the opposition party as well as members in Baird’s own government. Two National MPs have stated that a blanket ban on the industry was not required and thousands of greyhound owners, breeders and others employed in the industry will find themselves out of work and lose their livelihood.
Cootamundra MP Katrina Hodgkinson stated that there is a way to clear up rotten eggs without shutting down the industry which has been a strong part of NSW’s social fabric. The Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) stated that it was devastated to learn of Baird’s decision as the organisation had put in a lot of effort in 2015 to improve the standards in the industry, build trust in the community and establish rules where animal welfare would play a key part of the industry’s future.
GRNSW released a statement which said “The NSW Government, after receiving the report of the special commission of inquiry, has come to a different conclusion, one that will rock industry participants and associated communities around our state, as well as the hardworking GRNSW team and its partners who have been working tirelessly to improve the industry.”