NSW First State to Ban Greyhound Racing
7 July 2016 at 12:46 pm
Greyhound racing is set to be banned in New South Wales in response to what the state government has described as “widespread illegal and unconscionable activity”.
NSW will become the first Australian state to shut down greyhound racing after the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry in NSW found overwhelming evidence of systemic animal cruelty, including mass killings and live baiting.
Premier Mike Baird announced on Thursday that the NSW Government was acting to protect animal welfare as a priority, and was planning for an orderly industry shutdown as of 1 July 2017.
“As a humane and responsible Government, we are left with no acceptable course of action except to close this industry down,” Baird said.
“This is the inevitable conclusion to be drawn from the appalling revelations in Mr McHugh’s report and his considered view that any other measures are unlikely to protect animals from further cruelty.”
In response to widespread illegal activity, I can today announce that NSW is putting an end to greyhound racing. https://t.co/mzdPGBzZdw
— Mike Baird (@mikebairdMP) July 7, 2016
Baird released the commission’s report, which found that between 48,000 and 68,000 greyhounds – or at least half of all greyhounds bred to race – were killed in the past 12 years because they were deemed uncompetitive.
The report said up to 20 per cent of trainers engaged in live baiting and 180 greyhounds a year sustained “catastrophic injuries” during races, such as skull fractures and broken backs that resulted in their immediate deaths.
Inquiry Commissioner Michael McHugh had recommended Parliament consider whether the industry had lost its “social licence” to operate and should be shut down.
He said if the industry continued, his alternative recommendation was extensive reform including tighter regulation, but there was still a “very real risk” that practices such as live baiting would continue.
Baird said the Government would announce a detailed industry shutdown plan during the second half of 2016 following consultation with stakeholders in industry and animal welfare organisations.
The transition plan will set a path for the winding down of the industry as of 1 July 2017, and will include:
- a welfare plan for existing greyhounds, including opportunities for re-homing
- an adjustment package for industry participants
- a transition arrangement for existing Greyhound Racing NSW assets that will ensure they are used for open public space, alternative sporting facilities or other community use.
The premier said there had been “systemic deception” of the public concerning the numbers of deaths and injuries of dogs.
But the commission found that “Greyhound Racing NSW had adopted a policy of deliberately misreporting the extent of injuries suffered by greyhounds at racetracks”.
Baird said: “One of the issues we have had to wrestle with is the positive impact of the greyhound racing industry. There are over 1000 direct jobs in the industry and nearly 6,000 registered owners of greyhounds. Dog racing can be an important part of the social fabric of regional towns. And, of course, having a punt on the dogs over a few beers is good fun for many people.
“I feel much empathy for innocent trainers and those who will lose their job or hobby as a result of this. And I understand the disappointment of people who enjoy having a punt on the dogs. But we simply cannot and will not stand-by and allow the widespread and systemic mistreatment of animals.”
Greyhound racing has been banned in many countries and many states of the US and is legal in only eight countries around the world.
Read the full report here.