Greyhound racing has won the battle, but the war is not over

THE greyhound racing ban is done and dusted.

For now.

When Mike Baird officially announced the backflip at noon today, collective cheers could be heard from within the industry. But just how loud should we be cheering?

It’s still unknown precisely what the future of greyhound racing within New South Wales will look like.

Several leading news sources have tossed around ideas of track closures, less racing and hefty welfare bonds for every pup born. Some have even detailed the guarantees and commitments put forward by the Greyhound Racing Industry Alliance – one of which is a breeding program which would limit the amount of pups bred per year to 2,000.

The Alliance guaranteed this figure to the government when trying to negotiate a way out of the ban back in August. Credit where credit is due, they had a big hand in overturning the ban, but should the industry really be crumpling at the knees so easily?

Sure, it’s great we have our sport back, however, the industry also had Mike Baird and his government in a figurative chokehold – so why are we compromising so much, so soon?

Whilst the industry needs to make improvements, the 15 months prior to the ban had seen sweeping reform which halved the numbers of litters bred each year, reduced the amount of racetrack injuries and ensured more greyhounds were given the chance to live full, happy lives post-racing.

A representative from the Alliance told Australian Racing Greyhound today that the breeding restrictions are not locked in, no breeding bond is in place and no tracks are, at this stage, set to close.

This can be interpreted as a direct contradiction to some of the wording in Baird’s press conference today. An interesting point in itself.

The spokesperson said the new oversight body set to reform the industry would be looking at recommendations two through to 80, including the intercode agreement, in order to draw up a framework for the regulatory structure and future governance of the industry.

In other words, nothing is set in stone.

I think someone forgot to tell this to Mike Baird before his announcement today and it’s a shame because there are better ways to fix the industry than what has been thrown around in news reports today.

While we must look after our animals as the number one priority, lets not compromise the essence of greyhound racing when we have finally received a realistic chance to improve the sport for the better.

Lets not get so caught up in the excitement of having the ban tossed out that we sign into something which could result in the death of the sport down the track.

If our source from the Alliance is correct and the other recommendations from the McHugh report are set to be discussed by the new oversight body, lets ensure first and foremost that all revenue and taxation under the intercode and the tax parity agreements are adjusted to give greyhound racing its fair share.

This is not a move to profit trainers, it is something which would ensure the industry becomes a world leader in animal welfare, integrity and regulation. Without getting our slice of what we are entitled to, the industry once again becomes a target and a ticking time bomb whilst the thoroughbred industry booms off our revenue.

Secondly, lets upgrade our tracks to ensure better racing, but also to provide facilities for trainers and their greyhounds so that the health and fitness of every greyhound is kept at an optimum level.

Sure, put in place some breeding restrictions to make sure the industry can cope with the welfare of the amount of dogs born into it – but make sure they are also realistic to keep up with the demands of racing.

Hand in hand with this, we need a grading system which caters for every greyhound physically and mentally able to race. Who cares if your dog can run 22 or 25 seconds – they are born to run (no matter how fast they are) and by providing greater opportunities on the track, we are in turn improving animal welfare outcomes by ensuring more dogs make it to the track.

Also on the cards is a separation of the commercial and regulatory functions of the governing body. While this is a positive, let’s make sure we get some people at the top who actually give a damn about the industry. Enough of these bureaucrats with dreams of one day becoming a politician, let’s get someone in there with some ticker who wants to see the greyhound industry thrive.

So friends, of course let’s celebrate today, we have won the first round of the David and Goliath battle of Australian politics, but, just remember, the war is certainly not over yet.

Past Discussion

  1. Katherine All good legislation can be amended from time to time so nothing is set in stone. The Problem previously is that the Department of Racing have had multiple tries at writing greyhound Acts and regulations and have failed miserably to produce any act that simply can be amended so we have been constantly been occupied in dealing with unintended negative consequences. The country tracks particularly have been involved in a short period by six show causes which has the effect of having a volunteer force valued at about M per year focussed on survival and becoming risk adverse on commercial risk. With good legislation and regulations the focus can be shifted from the necessary for survival against the poor performance by the Minister’s Department to a focus on animal welfare projects by the industry on services and infrastructure on race tracks done in a commercial way that also produces productivity in the form of prize money.

    This is not rocket science but the greyhounds have had such poor service in the past they cannot imagine a good legislative and regulatory service. 

    With a social licence criteria by definition the more grass roots a culture is and the more volunteer and unpaid work performed by it gives it the highest rating as a social licence which is a licence mostly over and above calculated benefits counted as financial items on gross domestic product. With a considerable focus on animal welfare projects and lets face it the infrastructure for all animal welfare infrastructure is minimal means that poor legislation and regulation takes benefit away from animal welfare itself.

    I put forward several suggestions on restructures and regulations to the various reviews and I would be pleased to put them up pn sites. I am sure others can coeme up with better solutions than myself.

    There  is a three strikes you are out  in business The creative production comes mainly from creative tensions caused by fixing errors but after three goes you are just accident prone. The Ministers department has had over five goes to fix up legislation and regulation and frankly that is too many. So we need a different provider.

    Anyway I have promised myself that I will get something for the greyhounds before I turn 80 and its coming up fast.

  2. Yes she is right,this war is not over,question marks on who,what where and when have to be answered.I personally do not like the clause we are on our last chance.Have other animal sports been put on notice,i think not.the whole argument on this is how it was not right to punish the innocent and the impact the ban will have on country towns will be is closure of tracks a win to the people who have fought to save the industry to ensure there towns survive.too many unanswered questions.

  3. John Tracey  if all good/bad legislation can be amended at any time,how is that worth the effort in this case?

    did the industry just not go thru a trying time based on a governments amendment of the existing laws of the state in relation to the industry of the day by a sweep of the biro?we in effect,allowed them,the government,to amend at it’s whim because it was the ‘right thing to do”?wouldn’t be a safe move to have such flimsy regulations there in the first place.maybe explains why the industry leaders have failed before,and in its present form,be open to further failure.

    this now indicates,the industry needs to no longer exist as it was before the ban came into affect.some will be peed off with such suggestions,but this is anew round of basic rights to keep this industry afloat. no more can the industry exist on past histrionics,and many need to be moved out and thanked for their efforts,but you and your ideas are no longer reqired. harsh? sure is,but how many chances does one get? I am telling you,they are the reason the industry is in its current position,and if any suggestion it stays in that existence,then the industry has a short life.

    the Victorian changes have been nothing short of tremendous achievement. no use kidding ourselves,it has lead the state out of a similar situation,and thanks  to the eradication of old ways and old stalwarts,that state has shown reformation can and is working.why? simple answer is,it eradicated the puss sores from the frontal position.

    have a look,like I did, and see its structure. saturated with outsiders. people who have had virtually no involvement in the industry,maybe apart from a gathering of chums having a social night out,but also,a very strong representation of the police arena.past criminal investigators I see. and why not? the sport is infiltrated by thugs. the industry before,had no guts to remove that element,and if that is allowed again,goodbye industry. structure of the new look force who will guide this industry back to where it needs to be,not where it can be,has to be lead by similar a set up as is in Victoria.deny at the industries own demise.

    so yes mr.john tracey,you just may get your 80th birthday wish….in what form that contribution was going to take.and you can rest easily that your wish was granted.

    I am so impressed by ideas from so many during this fight. but how many of those brilliant ideas will ever see the light of day? probably none. and why would that be? because it takes time to remove the bad/dead wood from the current leadership group.and does the industry have that much time? we shall see.

    and one last thing. they,the baird government,are down on their knees.the orange election now becomes more important than ever it has. do not take the boot off the the throat. the power of the people has shown it has a voice and it has strength. but release the pressure just a small amount,and the enemy or the prey,begins to breathe a little easier. and that can be a disastrous thing for the people in the industry. in other words, I say,stamp  down harder and cut that oxygen supply right off. and look down and see the end result. is it dead and gone for good? or does it still have a heart beat? get the picture?

  4. spyman John Tracey  spyman I got a little hint in a newspaper article  that Mikey is looking at the Victorian model which is a great idea better than AA advice.

  5. Former NSW premier Kristina Keneally offered us a red flag.  She said that she agreed with the ban it’s just that Mike Baird went about it the wrong way.

    I believe the issue will re-appear at some stage and next time they will make no mistakes. We really have to be ahead of the game.

    I can’t help feeling this way but that’s just me.

  6. lone widow  I agree we have to remain vigilante forever against the forces that would see us all eat cardboard and have no pets because the fanatics are relentless.

    Keneally is just looking for press and she doesn’t get much these days- and for some-one who loves the sound of own her voice as she does I’d say desperate withdrawal symptoms from not getting enough attention  -the ABC trot her out occasionally for her views on slow news days. She carried on giving Mike advice about how to go about all this and how right he was to do it (it was sickening really) now she is covering herself because it has been overturned and her view that everyone agreed is wrong. Right royal pain in the ar–.

    She would have as much influence over Mike Baird as my cattle dog. No government will go near this for a very long time the financial review did a piece that described it as poison fix it Mike and move on.

  7. Deborah555 lone widow  PS Mike has now moved onto the lock out laws and the social keyboard warriors are following him- the holier than thou set are now expressing their views on how everyone else should behave over on the lockout law pages. We might get a bit of piece for a while especially now they have discovered we are more than willing to fight back – great show I thought for a bunch of illiterate bogans in tracksuits  weren’t  they all surprised when we would not lie.down. A lot of the papers are saying great job Mike overturning the ban now move on.

  8. lone widow No it is not just you. But the political point made was that the Premier has put himself on the line to support the greyhounds and that he is now in partnership with the greyhounds on needing the success of the welfare reforms. I think that this is true but what a great position it is for animal welfare.and for us to be in.

    The Ex premier’s point is only true if we stuff things up.

    It is abundantly clear to the task force chief that the great people who built greyhound racing infrastructure using a lot of unpaid work previously, spirit survives and can repeat their efforts can produce good welfare results. The people most interested in animal welfare are the greyhound people themselves.

    I think that we do have to be ahead of the game to also prove to our supporters that they were right in supporting us as well. 

    The alliance is correct in my view of making the animal welfare issue front and centre as they said in the interview last night on Paul Murray live at Wentworth Park we need to get the welfare right first and then everything else will fall in place. The Premier now has a vested interest for the above to occur.

  9. Deborah555 lone widow  Completely agree about Keneally – one of the greatest hypocrites ever in NSW politics. She did Obeid’s bidding in knocking of Nathan Rees when he showed a willingness to clean up the NSW ALP during his short stint as Premier.


  10. Deborah555 spyman John Tracey


    Thanks for your reply, you are not to harsh.

    The original reforms in 1998 (The float) were due to the National Competition Committee reforms 1994-1995 (look up the senate committee report on the Hilmer reforms) I was at it as an industrial representative of aggrieved architects.

    The reform included arrangements where the Government Departments and Agencies could delegate the public interest to statutory bodies (NFP as well) if the public interest could be satisfied by the agency leaving the public service.

    Racing also got an exemption (rent licence is that the term) as an exclusion from the need to confirm to competition policy on a balance of benefit and dis-benefit as itemised in the Millers explantation of the trade practices acts exemptions (sorry I dont have time to look everything up)

    The various racing acts are in fact delegated authority for the Government to delegate its powers in the public interest to other bodies. 

    The Parliament therefore needs to as delegating autjority of a power under the public interest to be able to take take the power back of necessary.

    The  Parliament has several instruments where it can resume or alter delegated authority. They are within an existing act, an amendment of an act and instrument gazetted under a Ministers orders. and a re-write of an Act through parliament.

    My point is that the Acts were poorly constructed that the Acts did not allow amendments or ministerial orders to fix up delegated problems which should have been a feature of a reasonably written act. This is the fault of a Government support and the proof is that the most expensive and disruptive process of re writing of an act  was the instrument used by the department when a simple amendment would have solved the problem.

    The reforms that brought in the TAB float were well known  to the upper departments so the acts were not an evolution process.

    (see remarks in the second reading speeches in Hansard at the time).

    When an Act is re written it used to take an agency 10 years to absorb the reforms. The GRA in effect was a service agency not a policy agency, the policies were performed at the Minister of faming and racing delegate level.

    In earlier times 10 years were required for a reform of a full re write of an Act were required. The period now has been reduced but multi re writes of acts cause disruptions and cause a focus on office matters rather than getting things done in the field. (so to speak)

    The Shooters and Fishers are right in so far as a badly written and constructed Act will kill anything. Winston Churchill who did a back flip on Greyhound racing in the UK not wanting it to have wagering originally refused for the second reading debate to take place but later said we can kill it by regulation anyway. The control of greyhound racing tote betting in the UK was limited by an extra tax on commission of 7% higher than the horses. The reason given in the 1947 debate on budget estimates was that horse racing was a public benefit sport and greyhound racing was a business. The commission was reduced because the higher commission had a negative effect on treasury receipts.

    Put out in simple terms if the greyhound fail in the reform Baird will fail as well as he is  tied into the reform because of his full blooded response to things.

    Racing in all forms is not supported by 20% of the population for various reasons.  so it is not unusual for some people of all political colours to oppose. 

    If Racing cannot obtain an act that can be easily amended instead of having another expensive radical Act being re formed then the whole matter will go back to the parliament and enter the record books with the previous record being held by a firmans act.

    With a focus on animal welfare high cost legislation or regulation will reduce the spending on welfare and put both the Premier and greyhound racing in danger.

    The government clearly have an incentive to get the act and regulations right and as they say you can back self interest because it is always trying.

    As far as my age is concerned I have only mentioned it to express the urgency I feel for getting something for the country regions. I follow the classic line of having an overall perspective rather than a more narrow and intense one that you have when hyou are younger.

    Thanks again.

    I sen my replies to the alliance I am happy if they want me to edit or remove them. I am a team player.

  11. John Tracey Deborah555 spyman

    Great read John. Your 20% estimate of people not interested in racing in any form might not be right.  I think it should be more like 80% to 90%.  Just my thoughts, not criticism.

  12. Grant has already stated that, rec 64  of the McHugh report is off the Table . So where is the money coming from for these reforms that the Alliance has agreed on, Maybe the Alliance might be ask to fund it.LOL

  13. John how are you going to save the Country Tracks from the cut ,The Alliance will look after their tracks first and i feel they wont care to much for the others .The only person  who trying to keep Country tracks alive ,is Robert Borsak from the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party.

  14. John Tracey lone widow So why did the welfare of the animals become so poor??  How did it get to this? A , wastage rate’of over 50%?? Is that right?

  15. BJoe John Tracey  The 20% comes from the productivity commissions statistics sourced from the census (ABS but the number might be greater as some of these people would only bet on the Melbourne cup etc. 

  16. BJoe davidf82 Deborah555 lone widow  Yes he was a true labor bloke Obeid wasn’t he? looking after ordinary working Australians as long as they had a sideline in coal leases, lol  I hold him responsible for Mike being the Premier now. His behaviour brought the Labor party down.

  17. BobWhitelaw  Sack Grant- Mike could just make a finger puppet that nods nobody would notice the difference and his enormous salary and expenses would rehome a few hundred greyhounds every year.

  18. lone widow Mad Panda John Tracey I bet she is pissed after jumping into bed with him over all the other issues he wanted passed through parliament because she thought he would ban racing for her in exchange lol  silly girl

  19. Deborah555 lone widow Mad Panda John Tracey I often wonder if politicians really understand the fickle nature of their chosen vocation.

    How better life could be for them if they realized they actually work for us the people.

  20. lone widow Deborah555 Mad Panda John Tracey  Whether you love him or hate him – Mike’s  a clever career pollie ( must have learned a few tricks from Bruce he survived for decades in the political arena.) Got all the legislation he wanted passed with the help of the greens who wanted racing gone, kept em happy for a while, backflipped LNP one big happy family again, scores heaps of points as a pollie who listens ( the animal activists will stop screaming soon and move onto another cause I think this month’s flavour of the month is Monash uni.) Liberal voters who had thought he had lost his way back supporting him. Yep in another three months he’ll be smelling like roses. Already the press ” he’s human let’s forgive him” looking vulnerable with all his boyish charm. He’ll be fine but I think Grant will be left with dog poo on his shoe.

  21. lone widow Deborah555 Mad Panda John Tracey  PS you were right John when you said the love affair between him and the greens would be soon over. Hot tongue and cold shoulder now.

    Lone widow- wasn’t Mr Hinch upset when he didn’t get two terms he now has to be re- elected. Apparently his lawyers told him there was nothing he could do so he just slept it off in Parliament

  22. Deborah555 lone widow Mad Panda John Tracey He’s so readable Deborah he tried to be so poker faced about it, his erraticism has left him penniless in the past.  Looking for a bit of security in his old age.

  23. lone widow Deborah555 Mad Panda John Tracey  Poor old Mehreen didn’t read him too well though did she. That’s why she is so pissed she doesn’t give a damn about greyhound just wanted a second term after her appointment to secure her old age and now she will have to make new signs for the next cause.