PREMIER Mike Baird is refusing to back down despite growing public outrage at his decision to shut down greyhound racing in NSW as of July 1, 2017.
Baird made the decision, before the legislation to ban the sport had even gone to Parliament, based on the report handed down by the Special Commission of Inquiry led by Justice Michael McHugh.
Since the announcement on July 7, several holes have appeared within the report, raising serious questions about the accuracy of figures relating to wastage and the percentage of trainers engaged in live baiting.
Appearing on 2GB radio on Thursday morning, Premier Baird stood by the Special Commission of Inquiry report.
“Justice McHugh has spent 16 years in the High Court, he is used to looking at evidence,” Baird said.
“He has weighed up all of the evidence and he has made an assessment that it is 10-20 per cent (of trainers were participating in live baiting).
“He is not going to make an assessment unless he has a firm basis.
“On the basis of the McHugh report I felt, our government felt… that we had no option.
“What we have seen is just horrendous.”
Baird shot down comments that evidence used in the report, which was later found to have been in relation to a breeder in America, had no relevance to the sport in NSW.
“There is a reference to where this industry has been around the world and it is important,” he said.
“In the US there was a majority of states where greyhound racing was in the late 70s and now its down to five – animal welfare has seen it shrinking.
“Even here in this state greyhound racing in the last eight years has reduced by about 20 per cent.”
Baird continued to back his decision, stating that interim CEO Paul Newson, who was put in place by the government to regulate the sport and implement reform following on from the live baiting report on ABC’s Four Corners program last year, had no faith in the industry’s ability to repair itself.
“He (Newson) doesn’t think the industry can change. He has seen first hand, he has seen the evidence,” Baird said.
“The only reason that this has been done is that there is systemic, barbaric cruelty.
“Even if you take actions to try and reduce the breeding, you still get to a position… where there is still thousands of dogs which are slaughtered, killed every single year and live baiting would continue.”
Baird continued to stand by the evidence in the report when figures were again called into question.
“We have… report after report of participants, trainers who have admitted that they have undertaken live baiting, they are aware of live baiting and the industry has not denied that their term ‘wastage’ which is the slaughter of live, healthy greyhounds is a regular part (of the industry),” he said.
“Since 2004 there has been 97,000 greyhound pups whelped…there is about 7,000 registered at the moment – where are the rest?
“This is the last thing in the world I ever thought I would be doing I thought I would want to be doing.
“When a government of any political persuasion is presented with the findings that Justice McHugh brought down, I think you would be turning a blind eye to the most significant animal welfare challenges, the most horrendous animal welfare situation that you could imagine… we have acted because it is the right thing to do.
“We will go to Parliament, everyone will have their chance to put their views, but this decision has been done…”