Baird Expects Voter Backlash Over Greyhound Ban
The greyhound racing community has been left devastated but holding out hope of a legal challenge after a controversial bill to ban the sport in NSW from July 1 next year finally cleared parliament.
After weeks of intense public debate, the legislation finally passed early on Wednesday morning following a marathon 12-hour debate in which three Nationals MPs broke ranks with the government.
The greyhound racing industry says the move will financially ruin hundreds of people who have devoted their lives to the industry, with its hopes now lying in a Supreme Court legal challenge.
vote; 48 to 35 seeing Bill passed— NSW Greyhounds (@NSWGreyhounds) August 23, 2016
parliament considering amendments. We remain committed to seeking ways decision can be overturned.
NSW Premier Mike Baird admitted his shock decision to ban the sport had taken its toll, and conceded he may face a voter backlash at the 2019 state election, but insisted his government was trying to do "what is right".
Nationals MPs Katringa Hodgkinson, Kevin Humphries and Chris Gulaptis - who consistently argued the ban would devastate their regional electorates - crossed the floor to vote with Labor to oppose the bill.
It comfortably passed 49 votes to 30 on its third reading. Nationals leader and Deputy Premier Troy Grant has called on the greyhound racing community to work with the government as it prepares an industry assistance package, due to be delivered within three months.
Dubbo Greyhound Club president Shayne Stiff, who was in parliament for the debate, says the community is devastated.
"People have woken up this morning to go and do their dogs, walk them, gallop them, feed them, pat them and they are gutted," he told AAP.
Opposition Leader Luke Foley accused the premier of a "cruel ambush" of working-class people.
The Greens are campaigning to end greyhound racing across Australia, with NSW MLC Mehreen Faruqi saying she will hold the state government to account to ensure animal welfare is not compromised as the industry closes.
The Greyhound Racing Prohibition bill includes a one-year jail sentence and maximum $11,000 fine for anyone caught organising a race after the ban.
It was sparked by a Special Commission of Inquiry report that found up to 68,000 "uncompetitive" greyhounds were slaughtered in the past 12 years and nearly one in five trainers used live animal baits.