LEADING news sources are predicting the Baird Government could potentially backflip on its controversial law to shutdown greyhound racing within New South Wales.
While Government representatives have attempted to deflect the claims, an email sent by National Party MP and Assistant Speaker Andrew on Thursday has been leaked to the press, with Fraser conceding the Government is in serious trouble.
“As you are no doubt aware from recent media polls and articles, our government, if an election was to be held tomorrow, would be unelectable,” the email, sent to the Premier, Deputy Premier and ministers read.
“We can compliment ourselves on a futuristic program of infrastructure across the state, increased delivery of services… Australia’s lowest unemployment, a AAA credit rating and leading the nation in all economic criteria etc.
“But these are, unfortunately, not issues or criteria which will win us the coming by-elections or keep us in government.”
Fraser said the ban must be overturned by the Baird Government before it comes into effect as of July 1, 2017.
“The greyhound legislation has completely reversed our political fortune. There is only one way to try and salvage our position.
“1. Do not proclaim the Greyhound Racing Prohibition Bill 2016.
“2. Adopt the NSW Greyhound Industry Alliance plan, which will reduce the number of races, the number of dogs and the number of tracks.
“3. Ensure any person in the industry who wastes a dog inhumanely or live baits is subject to a very large fine, a jail term and a life ban from the industry.
“The Keniry report will surely confirm that up to 20,000 greyhounds will have to be destroyed post-July 2017 if the legislation is enacted. I feel sure Keniry will also advise that any readjustment package will far exceed the estimated cost of upgrading the remaining greyhound tracks to meet required standards.
“[Overturning the ban] would, I believe, receive full public support.
“There is no shame in taking this action, we can clearly indicate that as a government we have listened and acted accordingly. We have to resolve this issue as we are facing a political disaster.
“The Orange by-election at this stage appears unwinnable and I believe that the greyhound legislation has been the catalyst which has put us in this position.
“I plead with all of you to adopt this plan and save our government.
“We cannot afford another Labor government which will once again return NSW to a parlous state.”
The leaked email comes as pressure surrounding the decision continues to build, with the greyhound racing industry launching a case in the Federal Court earlier this week claiming a ban would breach section 92 of the Commonwealth Constitution, which guarantees freedom of interstate trade.
It also follows revelations that the head of the Greyhounds Transition Taskforce, Dr John Keniry, will hand down a report outlining a transition package for the industry which details that up to 19,000 greyhounds will be effected by the ban, more than three times the amount originally estimated by Government.
Fraser’s ‘backflip plan’ uses a proposal outlined by the NSW Greyhound Racing Industry Alliance, which based its figures on a report by KPMG that is yet to be read by the industry.
Since the Alliance’s plan was announced, Australian Racing Greyhound has also presented the NSW Labor Party with a comprehensive industry model which would guarantee the sustainability of the sport moving forward.
A key aspect of the plan put forward by ARG includes the introduction of the Greyhound Welfare Future Fund, which would ensure that every greyhound born into the industry is given the opportunity to live a full life.
“The key part of the equation is the establishment of the welfare future fund, which means that every greyhound which goes to the track effectively contributes to the welfare of all greyhounds born, retired and re-homed,” said Kevin Pitstock, CEO of Racemedia, the parent company of Australian Racing Greyhound, when the proposal was unveiled last month.
The fund could potentially include a rebate of $20 per week for each retired greyhound, therefore encouraging owners and trainers to keep their retired racers, while it would also support those in the community taking on a greyhound as a pet.
“Our figures indicate that it would contribute $12 million in year one towards animal welfare and we foresee that in five years it could potentially be up around $50-60 million and it would ultimately self-fund,” he said.
“Based on the preliminary figures we are looking at around $4,000 per greyhound to put towards their future welfare and care after they finish racing.
“There is no disputing that there needs to be a much more significant push towards improving animal welfare and the industry itself needs to remain in control of the welfare and care of these greyhounds.
“The fund would be exclusive of prize money – it is something that would be contributed directly from GRNSW into the future fund every time a greyhound starts.
“It’s not something that comes out of prize money or appearance money – the participant themselves will not be losing out.
“The money is not there to plunder or for people to fund their own lifestyle – it is there for the greyhounds.
“It would fund the adoption programs and it would allow for the purchase of properties where large numbers of greyhounds could be cared for on a bigger scale than what is currently happening.
“It is important that the industry offers full life care for every greyhound born and under this model that would be achievable.”
The proposal involves a breeding pool of 3,000-3,500 pups born per annum, of which 80 per cent would be expected to make the track, with all dogs to be supported by the aforementioned Future Fund to provide total life care and tracking for every greyhound.
Additionally, ARG’s plan would also introduce increased funding for veterinary care at race meetings, more swabbing and a batter management model for NSW tracks which would see Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) manage all tracks and employees – allowing for tighter controls of costs and integrity.
Pitstock said the plan was reliant on the industry receiving its fair share of both the intercode agreement and the tax parity, but said it was entirely realistic.
“A lot of the argument from the Baird and Grant Government has been centred around the concept that greyhound racing is unsustainable and that welfare reforms are un-fundable,” Pitstock said.
“That prompted us to do some further investigation and come up with our own model, which we believe is quite revolutionary as far as the racing industry is concerned, particularly in regards to our concept of a welfare future fund.
“Our proposal allows for 728 meetings per year, allowing greater racing opportunities for greyhounds in comparison to the proposal of 593 meetings per year as put forward by the Joint Working Group.
“The modelling is based on the assumption that recommendation 64 of the McHugh report is adopted and that greyhound racing receive 22 per cent of turnover.
“Based on the figures we have provided, it proves that with our fair share of TAB revenue, greyhound racing is sustainable.”
ARG’s thoughts on saving NSW greyhounds
The repercussions of the ban on greyhound racing are starting to be felt across the state, with tens of thousands of jobs set to be destroyed, while an industry which contributes over $335 million to NSW will be killed off.
Now more than ever it is important that participants keep the pressure on the government at an all time high, to send the powerful message that the industry will not be beaten.
If the industry is allowed to continue, we believe our plan delivers the best animal welfare outcomes for all greyhounds, while it will also strengthen integrity resulting in a cleaner, fairer sport for all participants and their dogs.