October 11, 2016 – The reversal on the greyhound racing ban in Australian state of New South Wales announced today has one animal welfare organisation saying giving the industry a second chance will only cost animals lives.
NSW state premier Mike Baird’s about-turn on his greyhound racing ban came after mounting pressure from the state government opposition parties and pro-greyhound racing lobby groups since the legislation ending the sport was passed in August.
Mr Baird and deputy premier and minister for racing, Troy Grant, today announced former premier Morris Iemma will chair a Greyhound Industry Reform Panel that will determine the new regime and “ensure NSW Greyhound Racing is the cleanest in the country”, including:
• Mandatory life bans as well as increased jail terms for live baiting;
• Registering all greyhounds for their entire lives;
• An independent regulator with strong new powers to ensure transparency and accountability; and;
• Substantially increased resources for enforcement and prosecution as well as animal welfare.
“We firmly believed the government’s decisive response to the animal cruelty outlined in Justice McHugh’s report was the right one – but we misjudged the community’s response to that report,” Mr Baird said.
Troy said that after the Panel makes recommendations, legislation would be introduced early in 2017 to repeal the ban and deliver the new regime under which racing would operate.
Animals Australia has been investigating and campaigning for the ban of greyhound racing for years. Its chief investigator Lyn White said the politicians who pushed to reverse the ban on greyhound racing in NSW will regret reviving an industry known for endemic cruelty and criminality.
“To see a state premier crucified for making a courageous and correct decision based on the findings of a former High Court judge, is a new low in Australian politics,” Lyn said.
In July, NSW state premier Mike Baird announced the state government would use new legalisation to ban greyhound racing effective of July 1, 2017 after a special inquiry commission found overwhelming evidence of animal cruelty and law breaking.
“The anti-ban politicians have breathed life into an industry that a Special Commission of Inquiry concluded was unable to reform in the short to medium term. They have allied themselves with an industry where criminal behaviour was commonplace.” said Lyn.
Justice Michael McHugh, who led the Commission, noted that – in addition to live baiting and the mass killing of underperforming dogs – leading trainers had been prosecuted for drugging dogs with highly illegal substances including cocaine and methamphetamines.
“To suggest that this will change whilst prize purses remain on offer is ludicrous. These practices were accepted and endemic to the industry. It’s not only what they do, it is who they associate with that makes the mere existence of this industry a societal risk,” Lyn said.
“If trainers weren’t themselves participating in live baiting or doping, they knew someone who was, and yet they remained silent to protect their industry.
“There has been no ‘mea culpa‘ from this industry. Had their horrific practices not been publicly exposed – screaming piglets, possums and rabbits would still be being ripped to shreds at trial tracks around Australia,” she added.
“This is an industry that encourages criminal behaviour. It encourages abhorrent human behaviours. As long as it exists, healthy, beautiful dogs will be killed simply because they couldn’t bring a prize purse home. It is this callous killing of dogs that created the slippery slope that led to live baiting in the first place,” Lyn said.
Last weekend the RSPCA Australia released their own research which polled 854 residents in the states of NSW and Australian capital Territory (ACT) between 30 September and 5 October. The polling showed that 64% of those polled supported the ban, political preferences had little influence on their support.
Almost 80% of respondents who took part in the research cited animal welfare concerns for their support of the ban.
“This evidence shows that for the NSW and ACT public, the decision was not about politics, but animal welfare. It’s supported by the majority of Australians in these regions, across the entire political spectrum,” said RSPCA Australia senior policy officer, Dr Jed Goodfellow.