LABOR heavyweights Luke Foley and Michael Daley have slammed the government following the release of the NSW Greyhound Industry Reform Panel’s report.
Speaking on Thursday, the NSW Opposition Leader and his deputy praised the report itself, but said it has been a long, unnecessary struggle to reach the same conclusions which were obvious last year.
“We are satisfied that this report gives the government all the tools now to embody these principles in legislation,” Daley said.
“If the legislation embodies the intent of this report, then of course we will be supporting it, but what a shame it had to come to this.
“The Baird and Berejiklian governments have messed this up badly. Michael McHugh gave his report to the government in June last year – they sat on it for a month to get through the federal election and then dropped the sledgehammer on all the good people in the industry.
“If Mike Baird and Gladys Berejiklian had listened to people back in July, we wouldn’t have had all this angst and pain.
“Let’s not forget that because of this government’s mishandling of this issue there are breeders, owners and small businesses who have gone out of business and lost their livelihoods.
“The government has no solution for them and the legislation that prohibits this industry is still on the books.
“We invited the government to give certainty to the industry at the end of last year and repeal the bill and they haven’t – its been a farce from the start. Lets hope this is a new beginning for the industry.”
Foley said the report, which made 122 recommendations including the separation of the commercial and regulatory functions of Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW), was in line with the Labor party’s stance.
“This report on greyhound racing is an emphatic vindication of the Labor position,” Foley declared.
“We said all along that you have to restructure greyhound racing to put animal welfare right at the heart of the running of the industry.
“We have been through all this, regional communities, people were put through untold pain and anguish in the government’s desire to close down an industry when they could and should have done what the Labor party has been urging since the first week of July.
“Now the expert panel is recommending to put a dog ICAC in place.”
Daley said the new structure of the industry should help to improve the sport moving forward.
“We like what we see, because it puts in place a new cop on the beat if you like – a greyhound industry regulator.
“It’s a strong regulator with all the prosecutorial and evidence gathering teeth to make sure that this body does what Labor has called for since July last year.
“We know that the majority of people in the greyhound industry are good and honest people.
“There have been a small number of people who have done the wrong thing and what has now been provided for is what we have been calling for.
“If you do the wrong thing, if you are cruel to your dogs then you should be rubbed out of the industry for life and you should have the book thrown at you.”
Foley was hesitant to say he would support legislation to overturn the intercode agreement, which sees the greyhound racing industry receive just 13 per cent of funds injected back into the industry despite contributing 21.7 per cent towards TAB turnover.
However, Foley did call upon the government to commit to funding the industry moving forward.
“First and foremost, [the intercode is] a matter for negotiation between the industry codes,” he said.
“The proper course of action here is for the industry codes – harness racing, greyhound racing, thoroughbred racing – to sit around the table to talk about these matters and we would encourage them to make an agreement.
“The government was prepared to put up $30 million to close down the industry so I think they ought to be prepared to put up a similar amount of money to keep an important, jobs generating industry going subject to the highest standards of animal welfare.”
It is great to see the Labor party continuing to support the greyhound industry following the Greyhound Industry Reform Panel Report.
We do hope that the opposition will continue to stick with us moving forward and will support any legislation changes required to give the greyhound industry its fair share of the intercode and tax parity agreements.
If the industry cannot secure the right percentage of funds according to what it contributes towards the TAB turnover, it will place a massive strain on the industry moving forward as it tries to self-fund both the commercial and regulatory arms of the industry.
This money is not about the industry being greedy, it is about securing what we are entitled to in order to ensure the welfare and integrity of greyhound racing in NSW and to ensure participants no longer suffer being treated as horse racing’s poor cousin.