The New South Wales (NSW) government led by Premier Michael Baird announced in July 2016 that it planned to shutdown the state’s greyhound racing industry after a special report commissioned by the government revealed that animal cruelty was prevalent in the greyhound industry and more than 68,000 greyhounds had been put down in the last 12 years as they were no longer fit enough to race.
Premier Michael Baird upset a lot of pro-greyhound racing groups when he announced that his government would work with the greyhound racing industry to complete the shutdown before July 2017. Baird also emphasized that this was a final decision made by the government and it would not be open for further discussion. However, earlier this week Baird announced that he had made an error in judgment and that his remarks were premature. The Cabinet met on October 11 and discussed the issue in detail before deciding to drop their plan to ban greyhound racing in NSW.
One of the main reasons the government decided to drop the ban was because it received a lot of flak in the media from its opposition party and the greyhound industry. This wasn’t a very positive sign for the Baird government especially considering the fact that the Orange byelection is scheduled for November 12. The opposition party has alleged that Premier Baird had a change of heart because his party slumped dramatically in the opinion polls and they realized that they could lose the election if they persisted with the ban.
In a statement, Luke Foley, the opposition leader told the Cabinet “Mr Baird has said this is a matter of great principle ad infinitum for three months now. It seems the principle most important to Mr Baird is saving his own skin.”
Baird tried to justify his decision to the Cabinet by saying that he was initially under the impression that the greyhound industry would not be open to change but based on the advice of Doctor John Keniry who worked closely with the greyhound industry in the last couple of months, the key players in the industry were willing to make the necessary changes and reform the greyhound industry. Baird now believes that it is in the best interests of the community to give the industry a chance to reform.
The government stated that while it had revoked the ban on the industry, it would enforce a number of regulations which the greyhound industry has agreed to comply with. Some of those regulations include reducing the number of greyhound tracks, providing a AUD1,500 bond for every greyhound bred, putting a cap on breeding at 2,000, limiting the number of racing events and better management of the entire life of greyhounds.
Morris Iemma, the ex-NSW premier is expected to be the head of the oversight committee which will be responsible for establishing a governance and new regulatory framework for the greyhound industry.