New South Wales Premier Mike Baird says he does not care if his personal popularity takes a hit in the wake of his government’s decision to ban greyhound racing in the state.
Mr Baird announced the ban last month after a Special Commission of Inquiry report found that animal cruelty was pervasive throughout the industry, and the legislation passed through the Parliament on Tuesday night.
“We’ve taken decisions that are in the long-term interest of the state, however difficult they might be,” he told 7.30.
“Ultimately what I want to do, and hopefully that’s what people see, is we will consider a decision on whatever it might be, we’ll weigh up the merits, and we will do what we think is right.”
The law to ban greyhound racing passed after vigorous debate in the NSW Parliament. Three government MPs crossed the floor to oppose the bill, voting with the Labor opposition which has promised to reinstate greyhound racing if it wins the next state election.
The racing ban will begin on July 1, 2017, and the compensation package for the industry will be at least $30 million for the first year. However the Premier would not be drawn on the details of what the package will contain, only saying that it should be finalised by the end of the year.
“We understand that this will have significant impact for those in the industry, we know that this is very difficult for them, but obviously having made the decision, the legislation through, the next stage is to ensure that we do everything possible to support the industry as it transitions for when racing stops,” he said.
The RSPCA and animal shelters have called for a transition package that will minimise harm to the tens of thousands of greyhounds that will need to be rehoused.
Greyhound racing is still legal in other Australian states and territories, but Mr Baird says he won’t be lobbying for the ban to be made national.
“That’s not my role,” he said.
“We’ve made a decision that no, we can’t in good conscience kick this down the road. We have to take the action. So we’ve taken that action, we’ve taken that here in NSW, what happens in other states, well, that’s up to them.”