NSW Premier Mike Baird preparing to back down on greyhound ban

by William Brown Last Updated
NSW Premier Mike Baird preparing to back down on greyhound ban

According to reports on Monday, NSW Premier, Mike Baird will seek to overturn a decision by Parliament in August banning greyhound racing in the state from July 1 next year.

Mr Baird’s office will not confirm the reports that suggest he is preparing to back down on his pledge to ban greyhound racing in NSW following opposition from the Nationals.

The ban sent shockwaves through the gambling industry, with greyhound racing making a up a significant amount of racing product in the Australian market. The original decision was made following the damning findings of a special commission of inquiry by Justice Michael McHugh that up to 68,000 greyhounds were killed in the past 12 years as they were too slow or unable to race.

The unconfirmed reports say the industry will instead be given an opportunity to prove it can end the mass slaughter of dogs – known as “wastage” – that led to the government’s decision.

A new approach could include elements of a package put forward by the industry, including total life cycle management of greyhounds, limiting the breeding of dogs to 2000 a year and lifetime bans for anyone caught “live baiting”.

The government has been waiting on a report from greyhounds industry transition co-ordinator John Keniry on how to manage the closure. Just over a week ago Mr Baird said the closure date of July 1, 2017 was “locked in”.

There have also been claims of a revolt in the NSW Nationals party room over the decision, with threats that Deputy Premier Troy Grant could be challenged at a meeting due on Monday night.

Three Nationals MPs crossed the floor to oppose the legislation introducing the ban.

Another factor that will no doubt be taken into consideration is that the government also faces a significant swing against it at the November 12 byelection in Orange, where the ban has been poorly received.

A spokesman for Mr Baird – who returns to work from holidays next week – would not confirm the reports, describing them as “speculation”.

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