THE New South Wales Greyhound Racing Industry Alliance announced on Friday that the first legal battle to challenge the report of the Special Commission of Inquiry has commenced.
The challenge comes after NSW Premier Mike Baird announced earlier this month that the government plans to outlaw the sport within the state as of July 1, 2017, following 80 recommendations handed down by the head of the Special Commission of Inquiry, Justice Michael McHugh.
The greyhound racing industry has filed proceedings in the NSW Supreme Court, seeking a declaration that the report is invalid and that it holds no legal effect, with the industry’s legal team headed by the former Commonwealth Solicitor General, David Bennett AC QC.
The challenge has arisen after several parts of the report have proven to be factually incorrect, with many industry leaders believing it has shown a strong anti-racing bias.
NSW Greyhound Breeders Owners and Trainers Association Brenton Scott said the industry is determined to fight the ban all the way.
“The Premier’s decision to ban greyhound racing was based on only one of the 80 recommendations made in the Michael McHugh AC QC Report,” said Brenton Scott.
“The recommendations and the report are being challenged on a number of grounds including the reliance of the Commissioner on the concept of a “social licence to operate” which we believe is inappropriate and unreasonable given that it has been described, amongst other things, as difficult if not impossible to measure.
“The challenge also indicates that the figures relied upon by the Commissioner on ‘wastage’ were erroneous.
“The idea that a Government can ban a perfectly lawful racing industry, which operates in every state in Australia and in overseas countries with legal systems the same as Australia’s, on the basis that it has lost some form of ‘intangible and unwritten’ social licence would be a very worrying development to many in the community.
“This is particularly so when there are no known legal criteria for the issuing and continuation of a ‘social licence’ and where respected authors have described it as an ‘intangible construct’. “Our industry has widely identified the many factual errors in the Report in addition to the legal errors identified by our legal counsel.”
The legal challenges comes after the NSW Greyhound Racing Industry Alliance submitted a comprehensive and detailed rebuttal of the report to Mike Baird on July 21.
Some of the factual inaccuracies which have so far arisen from the report includes that between 50-70 per cent of greyhounds are killed for being too slow, while it has since been revealed that 55.4 per cent remain with owners/trainers or are re-homed, 25 per cent die from natural causes, 12.7 per cent are humanely euthanised due to injury or illness, with just 6.9 per cent being unnecessarily, humanely euthanised.
The Alliance has also challenged the report which dismissed the industry’s economic and social contributions to NSW, enforcing that greyhound racing contributes over $335 million gross to the state and more than $30 million in state taxes. The sport also sustains more than 1700 full time jobs, more than 1000 of those being in regional areas.
The report also quoted a man named Ernie to support its euthanasia estimates, however this has since been put in the spotlight after it was revealed that Ernie is an American who gave his statement more than 10 years ago in a Canadian report by the University of Toronto.