John Keniry’s resignation letter prompted the ban backflip

Industry Update

THE resignation letter sent to Premier Mike Baird from the head of the Greyhounds Transition Taskforce, Dr. John Keniry, has been revealed by The Daily Telegraph under the freedom of information laws.

In the letter, sent on September 9, Keniry also offered to resign as Natural Resources Commissioner as he urged former Premier Mike Baird to reverse his contentious greyhound racing ban.

The letter was sent two weeks after legislation to ban greyhound racing passed through the NSW parliament and a month prior to Baird announcing a backflip on the ban.

“I wish to resign my position as co-ordinator of the Greyhounds Transition Taskforce, effective close of business today,” Keniry’s letter, addressed to Baird and then deputy premier Troy Grant, read.

“Since my appointment several weeks ago, I have had the opportunity to speak with many in the industry, and to better understand and reflect upon the likely impacts on people and businesses that are both directly and indirectly involved in the industry.

“I have come to the view that many people and businesses will be adversely affected, in ways that cannot be adequately dealt with by the transitional arrangements the taskforce might recommend.

“In my view, too many people who own just a few dogs and for whom racing is a lifestyle, as well as many small businesses which supply services to the greyhound industry, will be adversely affected with potentially serious impacts on the emotional wellbeing of them and their families.”

In early October it was reported that Keniry had been talked out of resigning by the Baird government.

Just a week after those revelations surfaced, Baird announced the ban was being overturned.

Despite the backflip, the ban had long-lasting ramifications for the Baird coalition government, with the Nationals Party losing a by-election for the seat of Orange in November.

The shock defeat saw Deputy Premier and leader of the Nationals Troy Grant resign, replaced by his close friend and member for Monaro, John Barilaro.

Just two months later, Baird also resigned as the Premier of NSW, with many experts touting the political pressure caused by issues such as council amalgamations and the greyhound ban as the reasons for his sudden departure.

In February, the Greyhound Industry Reform Panel, formed when the ban was reversed, handed down a series of recommendations for the government on how to best reform the greyhound racing industry.

Among the recommendations was the separation of the commercial and regulatory functions of the sport and the correction of funds distribution to the industry.

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Currently, the greyhound racing industry generates just over 21 per cent of revenue wagered with the TAB, but only receives 13 per cent of the funds re-invested back into the three racing codes by the government.

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party MLC Robert Borsak has since come forward to say that his party, and the Christian Democrat Party, will block the reversal of the greyhound racing ban unless the funding models are renegotiated.

If the intercode and tax parity agreements are not altered and reversal is blocked, greyhound racing will cease to exist in NSW on July 1, 2017.

However, Borsak says he does not believe the current Gladys Berejiklian-run government will let that happen.

“I think there will be some level headed thinking going on in Macquarie Street and I think what will happen is Gladys Berejiklian will come to the table and have a proper discussion,” Borsak told Going Greyhounds.

“This has to be a decision of the Premier because this is a very important decision for not just her government, but for the industry in general.

“We would expect that the government would come to the table long before [blocking the reversal] happens and negotiate a commercial settlement that will be in the interests of the industry.

“No one’s interest is seeing the industry’s demise – I don’t believe for one second that will happen.

“I think what we will see is that the industry will get what it needs – what the industry must do is ensure that its political power and leverage is maximised at this time.

“This is a matter of putting the industry on a proper commercial footing so that it can start to compete fairly on a level playing field with the other codes.

“It can then start to grow.”

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