Members of the NSW greyhound racing industry have gathered in western Sydney as clubs unite to fight the Baird government’s ban.
Up to 50 people including representatives from greyhound clubs and tracks across the state gathered at the Greyhound Social Club’s headquarters at Yagoona on Tuesday.
Richmond Race Club general manager Brad Adam said a five-person steering committee had been formed to be the voice of local clubs.
“Our main aim is to unite the clubs, which we have,” he told attendees.
“We are all in this together and we’re all going to fight this together.”
Executive officer of the Greyhound Breeders, Owners & Trainers Association (GBOTA) Brenton Scott said industry members had been collectively ambushed by a powerful government.
The government had chosen to close without consultation an entire industry which has 15,000 participants and 10,000 employees, and makes an economic contribution of at least $335 million per year, he said.
“The part that is so difficult to swallow – not one piece of consultation with the people affected in such a devastating fashion by that decision,” he told the meeting.
The government’s shock announcement that the sport would be banned from mid next year came after a Special Commission of Inquiry report found “chilling” evidence of animal cruelty within the industry, including live baiting and mass killings.
Mr Scott said there was an alternative “reform journey” outlined in 79 of the report’s 80 recommendations which would ensure an appropriately regulated, properly supervised sport “with the highest possible commitment to an animal welfare framework”.
“We are being treated unfairly, we are being treated unreasonably, and good, good people are being hurt in an unprecedented manner,” Mr Scott said.
The clubs have engaged a government relations and political strategy team headed by Barton Deakin and a legal team headed by former federal solicitor-general David Bennett QC.
Mr Scott said these appointments had been funded by the GBOTA but the arrangement would change to a trust structure.
He said the campaign will have a simple message: save our greyhounds.
“The challenge is enormous,” he told industry members.
“We have a premier who has placed his brand on this decision.
“He needs to understand that there is an alternative and that we wish to engage with him in speaking to that alternative.”