New South Wales participants are waiting with trepidation to find out the future direction of the sport as the Greyhound Industry Reform Panel prepares to publicly unveil its report handed down to the NSW government.
The panel, led by Morris Iemma, was announced in October following former premier Mike Baird’s announcement that he would reverse the contentious ban on greyhound racing which was set to come into effect on July 1, 2017.
The report from the panel, which will include recommendations for the government on the future direction of the greyhound racing industry, is due to be released on Thursday.
One of the major recommendations set to be announced is the creation of a powerful new integrity body which will be established to oversee greyhound racing in the state.
The Greyhound Welfare and Integrity Commission will separate the regulatory and commercial arms of the sport, which are both currently under the control of Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW).
Also expected as part of the report are recommendations for mandatory life bans and increased jail terms for those found guilty of live baiting, the implementation of a system to register greyhounds throughout their entire lifecycle and more resources for enforcement, prosecution and animal welfare.
It is still unclear whether breeding caps will form a part of the panel’s recommendations.
A set of guarantees from the NSW Greyhound Racing Industry Alliance to Mike Baird prior to the ban backflip outlined a plan to reduce breeding, placing a cap on the amount of greyhounds bred each year if the industry was able to secure another chance at reform.
These guarantees formed a part of the terms of reference for the panel, however, the Alliance’s CEO Brenton Scott quickly tried to distance himself from the notion of a breeding cap soon after the panel was announced, ensuring the industry that he had reached an agreement with the government that the cap of 2000 pups born per annum had been scrapped.
“The Alliance have raised [the 2,000 breeding cap] specifically with the Premier and Deputy Premier,” Scott told Australian Racing Greyhound last year.
“Since [August 9] the Alliance has taken its position to Greyhounds Australasia and has explained that the concept of a controlled breeding program needs to have a national focus.
“We need to understand what’s needed to cater for the entire national racing program at a given time and all of our planning needs to be between two and five years ahead.
“We obviously can’t breed more than we need to cater for that racing program, once we ensure the national level and the flow between states, then it will become an easier process to determine the breeding levels that should apply in each state.
“It’s not about approaching this issue from a breeding cap point of view, but approaching it from an appreciation that we shouldn’t be breeding excess to our racing needs and we shouldn’t be breeding excess to our capacity to re-home in a manner that is line with community expectations.”
However, when contacted at the same time, the government failed to confirm an agreement with Scott, instead indicating that breeding caps would still be considered.
“The Government has appointed a Greyhound Industry Reform Panel to determine the new regime that will ensure greyhound racing in NSW prioritises animal welfare, has a robust governance structure and a tough independent regulator to monitor the industry,” the spokesperson said.
“The Panel will consider a number of reports including the recommendations of the Report of the Special Commission of Inquiry, as well as the industry reform guarantees regarding breeding caps put forward by the Greyhound Racing Industry Alliance in August.”
GRNSW have already begun a series of measures aimed at improving welfare since the reversal of the ban, including the provision of water in all race day kennels and the introduction of six dog fields in non-TAB meetings at Lismore.
You can read the complete timeline of the NSW greyhound racing ban and reversal here.