STATE Bathurst MP Paul Toole has been announced as the Racing Minister following a cabinet reshuffle which took place under new NSW’s Premier, Gladys Berejiklian.
The news was met with dismay by many greyhound racing participants, with Toole on record as a supporter of former Premier Mike Baird’s now defunct greyhound racing ban.
Toole voted with his coalition colleagues to bring in the ban when the Greyhound Racing Prohibition Bill passed through the lower house in early August.
Despite conversing with innocent participants who were set to lose their livelihoods, Toole ignored their pleas and voted with his party in banning the sport.
“While I strongly condemn the unacceptable treatment of greyhounds, I am concerned by the impact that the Government’s decision will have on members of my community who have done the right thing,” Toole said at the time.
“Since the Government’s announcement on 7 July 2015, I have met with stakeholders from across the industry, including trainers, owners, breeders, veterinarians, suppliers and members of the community who enjoy a punt, and even with people who have never been to a greyhound race in their lives.
“I have listened to their concerns. I understand and deeply regret their personal fears and their fears about the financial impact that this decision will have on them. There are strong and diverse views in my electorate and I have taken all of them on board.
“I have read every letter and the representations that have been sent to my office. I have raised those concerns directly with those involved. I will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the necessary support and assistance will be forthcoming to those law-abiding members of the industry whose livelihoods are changed.
“I am committed to ensuring that there is a smooth transition and that support is provided for various circumstances.
“I acknowledge that for many in the industry greyhound racing is more than just an income, more than just a job and more than just a hobby. The greyhounds that they care for and train have become part of their family.
“The greyhounds that race represent their hard work, their passion and their life. I acknowledge also that for some greyhound owners the industry has been all that they have known. That is why I am committed to assisting my constituents to access the necessary support available through a transition process.”
Whilst Baird announced the ban would be reversed last October, there have been far reaching side effects for the government over the past few months.
In November, the Nationals Party lost the seat of Orange for the first time since 1947, with the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party’s Phil Donato clinching victory by 50 votes.
The massive swing against the Nationals cost former Deputy Premier and leader of the Nationals Troy Grant, who was also the former Racing Minister, his job, with the Dubbo MP stepping down as leader and replaced with John Barilaro.
Then, on January 18, Mike Baird announced his resignation as Premier and from politics effective immediately, citing family reasons for his departure.
The NSW Greyhound Racing Prohibition Bill is still yet to be officially repealed, however it is expected to happen soon after Parliament resumes for the year next month.