PARTICIPANTS from within the greyhound racing industry have announced plans to form their own political party in response to the state government’s decision to ban the sport within NSW as of July 1, 2017.
Dubbed the Australian Sport and Racing Party, the aim will be to field candidates in the State and Federal by-elections and ultimately in the state elections in two years’ time.
The Party intends to oppose the Liberals, the National Party and the Greens on the topic of the proposed ban and to give the entire racing industry a voice, particularly those within the greyhound industry in response to the ban.
The Party will also lobby for fair and equitable support and the sustainable growth for all codes of racing, with the belief being that the industry as a whole has lacked appropriate representation within the government.
The Party is the brainchild of Central Coast greyhound trainer Ray Pitstock who is a member of the NSW Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Association (GBOTA) and has been a part of the sport for over 40 years.
Pitstock said he was devastated by the decision by Premier Mike Baird and Deputy Premier Troy Grant to close down the industry, but says he has no intentions of standing by and watching as his beloved sport is torn apart.
“Unless a miracle happens the bill to ban greyhound racing is going to go through and come July 2017 greyhounds as we know it won’t exist,” Pitstock told Australian Racing Greyhound.
“My aim is to get in now and get organised so that when the election does come up in 2019 we will be ready to have a crack.
“The response I have received so far has been overwhelming – we even have a leading horse trainer wanting to come on board.
“We are going to canvas and attack every Liberal, National and Green.
“We have already got two people who have put up their hand in my area (Central Coast) to have a go at Adam Crouch the member for Terrigal.
“It is disgusting the way he (Baird) has gone about doing things and his whole attitude towards the greyhound industry.”
Pitstock says the Australian Sport and Racing Party isn’t just for people with an interest in the dishlickers, but for all those fearing the repercussions a ban may have on their lives.
“The party is for all people who feel as though we have been given a raw deal and don’t want the same thing to happen to their industry,” he said.
“It’s totally un-Australian.”
For now, the Party is focused on NSW and Pitstock plans to officially register it once he reaches the required 750 members, a target he says he will easily surpass.
“We have to get 750 members to register the Party, but the way things are going we should have that by the end of the week,” he said.
“I think it could eventually go nationwide – I am surprised by the response I have received at the moment – and I am in the process of registering an ABN number so we will be totally legal.
“I am amazed by the number of people who want to be involved.
“The Upper House is probably the easiest way of getting in, but from the reaction I have got it wouldn’t surprise me if we jagged a Lower House seat.
“In a very short time we received 37,000 signatures on a petition – can you imagine the numbers we could get over the next two and a half years?”
Pitstock is aiming to ensure greyhound racing participants are given a glimmer of hope by the newly formed party, with one of its key objectives being to overturn the proposed NSW greyhound racing prohibition.
“They have got [Dr Keniry] talking about compensation – but how do you put a financial value on emotion? You can’t put a dollar on it – not that I think they would consider a greyhound being worth much anyway.
“There are a lot of people affected here. It will end up affecting about 30,000 – 40,000 people once the whole thing comes into effect.
“So many people rely on the industry and it gives a lot of people – especially the elderly – a reason to get up in the morning.
“What will these people have to live for once it’s been taken away?”
Pitstock is also hopeful that the Australian Sport and Racing Party will send shockwaves through to the government, delivering a message to the people at the helm that the greyhound industry won’t be going down without a fight.
“Their attitude is that they have put it through and now we are going to lay down – they think we are all Labor voters so why worry about us,” he said.
“But we are not going to lay down – they are going to have a massive fight on their hands come election time.
“We are going ahead with this and we are not going to let everyone down – we will fight for the greyhound racing industry.”