KATRINA Hodgkinson has voiced her disapproval of the Baird government’s decision to appoint John Keniry as the head of a task force to oversee the shutdown of the NSW greyhound racing industry before legislation to ban the sport has been before parliament.
Hodgkinson is the state MP for the Cootamundra electorate which is made up of 35,000 square kilometres of rural area in southern NSW, with the Nationals Party member stunned by Premier Baird’s decision to shut down the industry as of July 1, 2017.
“To hear that John Keniry has been appointed and it still hasn’t been to the party room… it’s extraordinary to me, I have never seen behaviour like it,” Hodgkinson told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“It’s the annihilation of an industry without the government’s consent – it’s by cabinet decree.
“The way it normally works is that a Minister or his department will have an idea and they will formulate a proposal which will then go to the cabinet.
“The cabinet will then consider that and either agree with it or disagree with it.
“If they agree with it it will then go to the party room for government MPs to discuss whether or not it’s a good idea.
“That whole step has been missed… I totally think it was a premature announcement, it was one that should have been made by government MPs.
“It’s against protocol.”
Hodgkinson said making the public announcement before the legislation had been to Parliament puts other MPs in an awkward position.
“It puts everyone in a much more difficult position and I think that they know that once they start making announcements without no government consultation with MPs it really is a railroading,” she said.
“The government should be efficient, we should be accountable and transparent when it comes to tax payers funds…but when it comes to interfering with industry I believe the government should be there to set the parameters and if the industry is in trouble then to help them sort through the problems which they have.
“The industry should be given sufficient time to fix itself up… this is a very heavy handed approach for the government to just come in and ban it straight up.
“I thought (change) was occurring within the greyhound industry and that was one of the reasons why I was so shocked with the decision was announced last Thursday.”
Hodgkinson has three greyhound racing tracks in her electorate, Young, Temora and Cowra, and says a total ban on greyhound racing would have a devastating impact on those country regions.
“Personally I don’t have shares in any greyhounds and I am not a gambler, but I believe this is a part of the social fabric of my community.
“Greyhounds are just part of the rural way of life and it’s a great source of entertainment for a whole bunch of country people who otherwise may have quite limited forms of entertainment,” she said.
“It’s been around our area for decades. The greyhounds that are owned here are well loved, they are well groomed, they are pampered and just adored.”
Hodgkinson said she will continue to fight for the greyhound racing industry, with the legislation set to go before parliament on August 2.
“Since the announcement has been made I have been inundated with people who are so shocked and stunned by the decision, particularly when the industry was making real inroads into improving itself and its reputation,” she said.
“I don’t know of anybody in the industry who doesn’t want to see it squeaky clean and that wasn’t concerned about the poor light which was cast upon it when some people were doing the wrong thing as the ABC report proved.
“Government shouldn’t be a big stick against an industry, whatever the industry is.
“We should be there to assist them to work their way out of a situation and I believe that the greyhound racing industry had really made some big strides into doing that.”