THE greyhound racing industry in Australia is reeling, after New South Wales premier Mike Baird announced the systematic shut down of the sport in the state.
A Special Commission of Inquiry made the recommendation after finding evidence of animal cruelty, including mass greyhound killings and the well publicised live baiting scandal.
Mr Baird and Deputy Premier and Minister for Racing Troy Grant announced today the NSW Government had made the decision to shutdown the industry from July 1, 2017. It has also thrown huge doubt over the industry in the rest of Australia.
“As a humane and responsible Government, we are left with no acceptable course of action except to close this industry down,” Mr Baird said.
“This is the inevitable conclusion to be drawn from the appalling revelations in Mr McHugh’s report and his considered view that any other measures are unlikely to protect animals from further cruelty.”
In a detailed report released today, it said between 48,000 and 68,000 greyhounds, at least half of all greyhound bred to race, were killed in the past 12 years because they failed to chase, or were uncompetitive.
It goes on to say: “up to 20 per cent of trainers engage in living” and 180 greyhounds a year are euthanized because of injuries sustained in races.
Inquiry Commissioner Michael McHugh told Parliament to consider whether the sport had lost its “social licence” to operate. He also said there was a “very real risk” untoward practices would continue.
Mr Baird said the Government will announce a detailed industry shutdown plan during the second half of 2016 following consultation with stakeholders in industry and animal welfare organisations.
The shock announcement must now put serious doubt on the sport in other states, although no announcements have been made from any other governing bodies.
The transition plan will set a path for the winding down of the industry as of 1 July 2017, and will include:
Mr Grant said he asked Mr McHugh to leave no stone unturned and thanked him for delivering a comprehensive report.
“NSW is the first Australian state to ban greyhound racing but, as Mr McHugh notes, we are following in the footsteps of so many jurisdictions across the United States and the world which have banned greyhound racing to protect animal welfare,” he said.
An administrator will be appointed for Greyhound Racing NSW in the coming months, while the government will also consult and prepare legislation for Parliament to wind down the industry.
“Over the coming months, we will consult with the industry to help minimise the pain as best we can for the innocent industry participants as we work towards an orderly industry shutdown,” Mr Baird wrote on Facebook.
“We will develop a strategy to work with the RSPCA to manage the welfare of existing greyhounds. And the transition arrangement for Greyhound Racing NSW assets (like greyhound racing tracks) will ensure they are used for open public space, alternative sports facilities or other community use.
“I feel much empathy for innocent trainers and those who will lose their job or hobby as a result of this. And I understand the disappointment of people who enjoy having a punt on the dogs. But we simply cannot and will not stand-by and allow the widespread and systemic mistreatment of animals.”