FORMER New South Wales Opposition Leader John Robertson has spoken out on the recently-passed legislation to outlaw greyhound racing, slamming the Baird government for failing to consider the ramifications a total ban of the $335 million per year industry will have.
Appearing on 2GB on Friday morning, the MP for Blacktown, who led the NSW Labor Party between March 31, 2011, and December 23, 2014, said banning the entire sport was an overreaction to a range of problems presented within the industry.
“Today you see in the paper there is going to be a thousand jobs lost – a thousand full-time jobs lost in this industry – and as a result of that it means that NSW is losing jobs and yet they are not actually addressing the issue by making the decision that this government has taken,” Robertson said.
“The term that keeps getting tossed around is arrogance and I think that’s probably right…pig headedness and arrogance surround this decision.”
Robertson said the ban will have a far reaching effect on other sectors within the state, something which has not been thoroughly thought out by Premier Mike Baird or Deputy Premier Troy Grant.
“It is just extraordinary and I think when you make decisions like these there are always unintended consequences and it’s the risk you make when you are in government…but you would be expected to have considered all of those things beforehand.
“Yesterday the Premier was at the budget estimates hearings and he couldn’t give exact figures on job losses from greyhounds, couldn’t talk about consequences of this decision in other areas and I think everybody should be really worried about what that means and how this government is making decisions on significant issues like this without considering what the consequences will be for the wider community.
“It’s just been poorly thought through.”
Robertson also alluded that there are now rumblings from within the Liberal Party, with some MPs shocked and concerned about the decision which was made with zero consultation with the industry and prior to it being debated in parliament.
“It’s hard to believe and privately I talked to a lot of former staffers, former MPs – Liberal MPs – and some who are currently there who…have all said to me privately how concerned they are and I had one former conservative radio commentator sending me a note saying they thought it was a moralising overreach on the part of government and I think for most people that’s the case.
“Privately a lot of the Liberals are saying this is not what the Liberal Party does – we are not the ones to close industries down – and the animal rights activists are going to feel quite involved after this decision.”
The announcement that greyhound racing will be banned as of July 1, 2017, was made by Premier Mike Baird on July 7, 2016, with the decision handed down simultaneously with the report from the Special Commission of Inquiry by Justice Michael McHugh.
Despite the Greyhound Racing Prohibition Bill 2016 being passed through the Lower and Upper House, the greyhound industry is still fighting to have the ban overturned, with the McHugh Report now subject to a battle in the Supreme Court, with the industry arguing that the report is biased and factually incorrect and aiming to have it declared invalid and of no legal standing.
The case is due back in court on September 29.