Greyhound racing gets a final chance
Last week I announced that the NSW Government will support greyhound racing having a final chance in NSW, subject to the industry agreeing to the strictest regulations in the country. This approach was endorsed by the Nationals Party Room, which met to discuss the issue last Monday and Tuesday.
It is no secret that this has been an incredibly difficult issue for me, for our Party, and for the government. We always learn lessons in life, and I admit that there would have been better ways to work through the issues facing the greyhound industry.
Those issues have been well publicised. They are serious, and they need to be addressed. As a result of the actions taken by the government, the industry has finally begun to recognise this, and has made a genuine effort to propose meaningful reform. It is only because of this that Dr Keniry has advised government can now have confidence in the willingness of the industry to address these issues.
A Panel led by former Premier Morris Iemma and made up of government, industry and animal welfare representatives will determine the new regime, ensuring greyhound racing in NSW is the cleanest in the country. New conditions placed on the industry will include:
- Mandatory life bans as well as increased jail terms for live baiting;
- Registering all greyhounds for their entire lives;
- An independent regulator with strong new powers to ensure transparency and accountability; and
- Substantially increased resources for enforcement and prosecution as well as animal welfare.
These conditions will be based on the model developed by the industry itself, and reflect the commitments they have given in recent weeks to dramatically improve upon past practices.
The issue of track closures in our communities is vexed, and one I want to clearly articulate. Government has never determined which tracks open or operate. We do not fund greyhound tracks, just as we don't fund thoroughbred or harness racing tracks. Government will not be funding track upgrades or operations into the future – we have schools, roads and hospitals to build, and other services to deliver. These are very clearly decisions for the industry to make, and they will continue to be accountable for those decisions into the future.
The panel developing the new regime will report back by the end of the year. Legislation will be introduced early in 2017 to establish the new regime under which racing will continue to operate.