The New South Wales Opposition has vowed to fight against the State Government’s plan to ban greyhound racing.
Four days after the Premier Mike Baird announced greyhound racing would be illegal in NSW from July next year, Opposition Leader Luke Foley said he wanted to clean up the industry, not shut it down.
“I’ll stand by the overwhelming majority of people in the industry who’ve only ever done the right thing,” Mr Foley said.
“I want to throw the book at those who have done the wrong thing, life bans from the industry, prison terms for those who have engaged in live baiting.”
In announcing the ban on Thursday, Mr Baird said a report from a special commission of inquiry had found overwhelming evidence of systemic animal cruelty.
Breeders have spoken out about the ban, saying it is an overreaction which will cause them significant financial hardship.
Mr Foley said the greyhound industry could be cleaned up by adopting the 79 recommendations from the inquiry.
“I far prefer that approach to Mr Baird’s unilateral action to wipe out an entire industry and punish 80 to 90 per cent of people who’ve done nothing wrong.”
The Premier took to Facebook on Saturday night to again justify his decision and dismiss criticism that by shutting down the industry, the State Government was punishing the many for the crimes of a few.
Baird ‘chasing Facebook likes’: Foley
Several National MPs have spoken out against the Government’s move and Mr Foley has urged them to break ranks with the Liberals and vote with Labor in Parliament to block the ban.
“Clearly Mr Baird thinks he’s on a winner,” Mr Foley said.
“He’s chasing Facebook likes.
“But this is an industry comprised of battlers. It’s an important industry throughout regional NSW.
“It provides employment to many and enjoyment to a great many more.”
The inquiry was triggered after an ABC Four Corners program exposed widespread and extreme animal cruelty and cheating through the use of live baiting.
Animal welfare groups have called on the ban to be made national and rescue organisation workers have said they were already inundated with dogs they needed to find homes for and were expecting an influx after the ban took effect.
Need to look at ‘sheer economic consequences’ of ban
Mr Foley’s Federal Labor colleague NSW Senator Sam Dastyari has also weighed in.
Mr Dastyari is calling on a full Senate inquiry into the economic impacts of the ban.
“We do need to look at the sheer economic consequences of completely shutting down an industry like the greyhound racing industry,” Mr Dastyari said.
He also echoed Mr Foley’s calls to clean up the industry instead of shutting it down.
“There is an opportunity and it should be an opportunity to look at what other reforms can be put in place.
“Victoria and Queensland have both gone down a different path.
“They’ve put in some very stringent measures to try and clean up the bad elements in the industry.”