PREMIER Mike Baird has apologised to the good people within the greyhound racing industry.
The apology from the NSW premier come during a press conference in which he announced a reversal of his government’s controversial ban on the industry on Tuesday afternoon.
Despite relentlessly stating over the past three months that he stood by his decision to outlaw the sport within the state as of July 1, 2017, Baird took to the stage alongside Deputy Premier Troy Grant to concede the government had made a mistake.
“In July this year we made a decision that was very decisive on the back of systemic animal cruelty that we saw in the greyhound industry,” Baird said.
“The Special Commission of Inquiry has many revelations that were disturbing…we considered that report and we believed that the only response was to shut down the industry.
“We also thought that as the community looked at those findings and revelations, they too would see that the only course of action was to close down the industry.
“The feedback that I have received, my cabinet colleagues and MPs across government have received from the community is that, yes they were horrified by the findings of the Special Commission of Inquiry in regards to what was going on…but they have also said why did you not give the industry one last chance.
“It is clear in hindsight as we reflect on this that we got it wrong. I got it wrong, the cabinet got it wrong, the government got it wrong.
“I previously didn’t think the industry could change…Dr John Keniry has consulted with hundreds within the industry over the past few months and he has advised the government that his strong view is that there is now a deep appetite for change within the industry.
“My personal convictions have not changed at all, but it is clear listening to the feedback and on reflection that we did not give the good people of the industry a chance to respond and a chance to reform.
“On behalf of that, I am sorry, that is something we should have done.”
Despite Grant revealing they have only received an oral report from the head of the Greyhounds Transition Taskforce Dr John Keniry, Baird said the industry will be given one last chance to reform, however the stipulations, regulatory structure and limitations are yet to be confirmed.
What has been confirmed is the establishment of a new oversight body, led by former NSW Premier Morris Iemma, to draw up a new framework for governance, regulatory structure and the finer details of the sport.
“We will be ensuring that the toughest animal welfare standards, the toughest regulation and governance are put in place.
“In order to effect that we are establishing a special panel led by former Premier Morris Iemma to work with the industry, the government and animal welfare groups ensuring we deliver the appropriate structure [and] governance arrangements and penalties to effect what we want to do within the industry.
“The industry has clearly put forward a number of reports, we obviously hold them to account to those reports and that is the starting base for the panel to consider as they put this together.
“We are not returning to the status quo – the barbaric practices we have seen have to end…We need to ensure all of the government’s recommendations, all of the animal welfare protections that are there are done with a single intent in mind and that is to ensure animal welfare and the animal cruelty that we saw is not repeated.”