THE New South Wales greyhound racing industry has handed in a rebuttal to Premier Mike Baird to challenge the Liberal Party leader’s decision to ban the sport within the state.
The rebuttal was submitted on Wednesday by the NSW Greyhound Racing Industry Alliance, a new body which has been established by the Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Association (GBOTA), independent greyhound racing clubs and major stakeholders from the industry.
Brenton Scott, the CEO of the GBOTA, said the newly formed NSW Greyhound Racing Industry Alliance was aiming to to prove to the Premier the industry is capable of making the necessary changes needed to continue.
“We seek proper engagement with the Premier and the NSW Government to set expectations and a timeframe for the industry to present its plan and make the required changes,” Scott said.
“We believe this approach will allow the industry to prove that it is, and can be, viable and sustainable whilst being centrally focused on the total life cycle management of greyhounds in alignment with community expectations.”
Scott further added that the rebuttal challenged the legalities of basing the decision to ban the sport on the concept of ‘social licence’.
“The rebuttal identifies serious flaws in both the facts in the report and the entire construction of the investigation,” said Scott. “It indicates that the terms of reference were inappropriately narrow and biased.
“It appears the Premier has based his decision on the industry’s supposed loss of ‘social licence’ and yet there is no legal application to the concept of a ‘social licence’.
“Another key issue of the rebuttal relates to the multiple instances where members of the industry and the public have been denied procedural fairness.
“This has significant implications, not the least of which is the potential for major damages claims against the NSW Government should the Premier call for a ban relying on the particular recommendation he has chosen from this flawed report.
“The rebuttal indicates that only one of the 80 recommendations has been granted any consideration and that it is clear that the report does not take into consideration the changes the industry has made in the last 16 months.
“This critical omission and the decision to totally ignore this evidence brings the Premier’s decision into question and is unfair and wrong.
“The claim by the Premier that the industry would not be sustainable, even if recommendations two to 80 were fully adopted, are false based on our life cycle management model (developed by KPMG) that shows we can, and will, operate sustainably if we are allowed to bring about the changes we want to make to meet the community’s animal welfare standards.
“All we ask is for is a fair go. The industry believes that it is only fair to be given the opportunity to prove that it is adaptable and capable of change.”
Scott said another key aspect for consideration is potential damages claims from over 15,000 people which could cost the government and taxpayers enormously.
“Imagine the total cost of damages for affected people when you account for those losing or not being able to take up work,” said Scott. “The people of NSW are in effect being asked to consider the implications of this on the basis that the Government is closing an entire industry based on a report that is flawed.”
Key ‘facts’ of the report which have been highlighted as flaws in the rebuttal include claims that the greyhound racing industry cannot change.
The rebuttal highlighted that the number of greyhounds born in NSW over the past 12 months has fallen by 48% – with fewer greyhounds born meaning that fewer will need homes after their careers.
The rebuttal also called into question Justice Michael McHugh’s statement in the Special Commission report which said “… data was not sufficiently robust to allow the Commission to determine the precise number of greyhounds that are destroyed each year in this State”, determining that McHugh’s calculations on wastage were a guess, with regulatory tracking of a greyhound’s lifecycle not introduced until February 2015.
The rebuttal refuted McHugh’s statement that over 21% of greyhounds who compete are injured, highlighting that race track injuries had only been measured by Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) since November 2015.
Since then, between January 1 and March 1 2016, GRNSW reported that the injury incidence rate was 2.7%.
Also called into question was the report’s conclusion that “about 10 to 20 per cent of trainers” engaged in live baiting, based on a single testimony from a disgraced trainer.
The rebuttal indicated that in NSW, from 4400 registered trainers, only two participants have been jailed for live baiting, with another awaiting trial. Additionally, a further two participants are being actively investigated by GRNSW, while another eight cases were not able to proceed due to illegally obtained footage.
Also mentioned was that only 14 participants were among the 69 witnesses who gave evidence at the Special Commission of Inquiry hearings.
The Greyhound Racing Industry Alliance also hit back at the report’s dismissal of the industry’s economic impact, giving evidence that the sport contributed $335 gross to NSW and more than $30 million in state taxes.
The rebuttal included further information that the NSW industry provides 1700 full time equivalent jobs, over 1000 of which are in regional areas, with more than 15,000 people set to be implicated by the decision to ban the sport.