THE Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance has slammed the New South Wales Government for its decision to rush its proposed ban on greyhound racing through the NSW Legislative Council without notice or an opportunity for scrutiny.
The condemnation comes after the Baird Government teamed with the Australian Greens to ensure it was successful in moving a motion to table the Greyhound Racing Prohibition Bill 2016 after the opposition was afforded just 10 minutes to read the bill.
Ordinarily, five calendar days of notice is given to councillors to read and understand the bill, however in this case the bill was only distributed at 10:50am – with the Council commencing its sitting at 11am.
Tim Andrews, the Executive Director of the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance, was scathing of the back-door move by the Baird government to ensure the ban comes into force.
“This is an unprecedented and outrageous attack on fundamental democratic principles” Andrews said in a statement.
“The bill comprises 28 pages of complex legislation, which our elected representatives were expected to read and analyse in barely 10 minutes. Not only is this unreasonable, it contravenes basic principles of transparency and accountability which are crucial to the functioning of any representative democracy.”
Andrews said the timeframe given to Councillors to view the bill were unsatisfactory for such a monumental decision.
“Members of the Legislative Council are expected to fully read and understand legislation before its introduction into parliament.
“This is particularly vital where the legislation has the effect of abolishing a $335 million dollar industry that provides employment to thousands of New South Wales residents and which is a crucial cultural cornerstone of many regional communities.
“This decision should never have been made in such a knee-jerk manner without proper public consultation.
“Furthermore, the media has reported severe defects in the McHugh report upon which the Government premised its decision including statistical flaws, miscalculations and misuse of data as well as reliance upon information of questionable relevance such as an incident reported in the United States over 15 years ago which was given prominence in the report.
“It is the height of irresponsibility to rush legislation through without the opportunity to scrutinise such claims.”
“When becoming Premier, Mr Baird promised to govern with liberal values and to uphold the basic principles of democracy.
“Sadly, the decision to stifle scrutiny and debate over the Greyhound Racing Prohibition Bill 2016 demonstrates that he has failed to live up to this task.”
Also condemning the move is Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery, who told Fairfax that Premier Baird was trying to avoid igniting a heated debate in the lower house.
“Urgent Notices of Motion being introduced to the Upper House has usually been reserved for extreme issues such as legislation for terrorism and the like,” she said.
“The Baird Government is determined to sidestep due process today by introducing legislation which will ignore a significant section of our community.”
Hornery has recently collected over 37,000 hand written signatures in support of the industry which was expected to be debated in parliament on Thursday, however it now appears the legislation may be passed prior to then.