SHOOTERS, Fishers and Farmers Party MLC Robert Borsak says postponing the ban on greyhound racing is unacceptable.
His statement comes as several news sources claim Nationals Party MPs are trying to repair the damage caused by the controversial greyhound ban prior to the Orange by-election by formulating a plan to either overturn or extend the phasing out period ahead of a party room meeting next week.
The Australian claimed that some MPs are pushing for a complete reversal of the ban, whilst some are fighting to have a five-year extension granted, with specific goals for animal welfare and breeding.
This would include a sunset clause which would see the legislation dissolve after that time if the industry had met the required targets.
However, Borsak says delaying the ban on the sport is not enough, with a complete reversal required.
“There can’t be any talk of extensions, I think they might be able to, given the right legislation, conduct a review once every six months to document the industry’s progress, but there can’t be an axe over their heads threatening if you don’t meet our requirements we are going to knock you off,” Borsak told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“I don’t care if they are talking about one year or five years, that’s not on. The government has shown that not only have they let the industry down, but they can’t be trusted.
“Obviously they have no empathy or understanding…what planet are these people on? – they have no understanding of what they are doing. You pinch yourself trying to figure out if it’s just a bad dream.”
Borsak believes it is unlikely that there will be a spill for Troy Grant’s Nationals leadership this week, with talk suggesting senior MPs John Barilaro and Paul Toole had been sounding out support to contest for leadership.
Rumours surrounding a Nationals spill have been circulating as public pressure continues to mount for the ban to be overturned, something Premier Baird has adamantly refused since it was announced just over three months ago.
“I don’t believe for one minute that Baird wants to do anything at all that’s going to take a step backwards – he would be seen to be weak and he doesn’t want to do that,” Borsak said.
“The problem he has got to deal with is that this is a progressive bushfire for the Nationals.
“I don’t think it’s certain at all that there will be a spill of Troy Grant because what Baird may end up doing is accommodating them in some way.
“If Grant was spilled and a new Nat leader came in [he/she] would have to give an ultimatum to Baird in which case Baird would have to resign and he doesn’t want that either.”
Borsak chaired a Parliamentary inquiry into greyhound racing in 2014 which handed down a series of recommendations addressing the financial sustainability of the industry as well as welfare and integrity.
One of the main recommendations was that the intercode agreement be addressed to give greyhound racing its fair share of the TAB distribution, with the industry receiving just 10 per cent of the funds handed back by the government despite contributing to 22 per cent of TAB wagering.
“If the government wanted to make a fair-dinkum change and do a proper u-turn – we (SFF Party) would be prepared to support the plan but it has got to be gold standard otherwise we won’t support it.
“If and when [the industry] does come back, then it is going to have to be a lot better than what it was.
“How much money has been pumped into the thoroughbreds and harness racing over the last 20 years? Literally hundreds of millions and a large chunk of that has been ripped from greyhound racing…
“The whole thing stinks. It goes right back to day one – the intercode needs to be looked at.”
The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party have a candidate heading into the Orange by-election, with Phil Donato currently $5 with Sportsbet to win the seat which has been held by the Nationals for the past 65 years.
While they are still favourites to retain the seat, a massive swing against the Nationals Party would send shockwaves through the Parliament.