New South Wales cabinet ministers have emerged from a two-hour-long meeting on Tuesday, after officially signing off on a plan to reverse the greyhound racing ban. The ministers are now taking a new policy to the partyroom that will mean fewer races, fewer tracks and a suite of tougher animal welfare measures. Nationals MP Duncan Gay was one of the first to emerge saying the cabinet meeting
went “very well”. Mr Baird had previously dug in and continually insisted the ban would come into effect as planned in July next year, however after a dramatic slump in the opinion polls, an upcoming by-election in the regional seat of Orange and an internal revolt
from some Nationals MPs, he has changed his mind.
“In hindsight as we reflect on this we got it wrong,” Mr Baird told reporters in Sydney. “I got it wrong. Cabinet got it wrong. The government got it wrong. We chose a course that we believed was right,” Mr Baird said. He said the decision to reverse the ban had come after listening to feedback from the industry. “We did not give the good people in the industry the chance to respond, a chance to reform,” he said. “On behalf of that, I am sorry. That is something we should have done.”
He said a new body will be set up to govern and regulate the industry and will be chaired by former NSW premier Morris Iemma. Ministers said the Government proposal will put in place tough penalties with a greater emphasis on animal welfare and dealing with cruelty through more funding for RSPCA and other groups, and increased funding for rehoming capabilities in NSW.
No new tax dollars will be given for track upgrades but the industry will fund this through the sale of some tracks.
The new deal will be a reversal of the ban but with some conditions and some of the key changes will be the same as those proposed by the greyhound industry, including:
* Capping breeding to 2,000
* Reducing the number of tracks
* Reducing the number of race events
* Whole-of-life dog cycle management
* $1,500 bond for every dog bred
Local greyhound trainer, David Grant said, “We are ecstatic that the ban has been over turned however we still need to read the fine print to see exactly what is involved. We are not happy about the closing of the tracks as obviously the smaller tracks will be the first to go which could mean the end of the industry in country NSW. I am all for making the tracks safer as this means less injury to our dogs. I would like to see a fair share of the Government’s takings returned to the breeders the same as what happens in horse racing. In addition, if there was more money invested into prize money it’d make it a quality industry of high standing.”
If the $1,500 bond they are proposing to put in place does go ahead then it could mean the end of a lot of breeders as that amount of money isn’t viable in this business. For a litter of 8-9 pups that would mean forking out nearly $14,000 per litter.