Phil Donato’s pro-greyhound stance popular, says Scott Board

Phil Donato is a pro-greyhound voice and Orange residents love him.
Independent member for Orange and greyhound-racing supporter Phil Donato (second from left) won his seat back for the third successive occasion in a landslide result from the NSW election last Saturday night. Picture: Facebook.

Orange trainer Scott Board believes Phil Donato’s landslide triumph in the New South Wales election can only be a good thing for greyhound racing throughout the state.

And while the hurt of Mike Baird’s 2016 ban on the industry will never be forgotten by his avid greyhound family whenever it is mentioned, Board has welcomed a new and hopefully supportive state government.

This is particularly so with his trainer father Greg and mother Helen set to move back to the region from Murray Bridge after they left in disgust shortly after former Premier Baird announced the state-wide ban seven years ago.

The new Chris Minns Labor government has given every indication its policies will go nowhere near the depths of despair which the greyhound industry suffered under a Liberal-National coalition in 2016.

Importantly, new racing minister Courtney Houssos – from Forster in regional NSW – is supportive of greyhound racing.

And in Board’s local seat of Orange, the popular Donato – who has long been a greyhounds supporter for years – will continue fighting for the industry.

The former Shooters Farmers Fishers and now-Independent member romped home in the preferential count with 28,381 votes (72.4 per cent) to National Party opponent Tony Mileto, who had 10,821 for 27.6 per cent, as of Tuesday night.

Donato has ridden a wave of goodwill since he fought the greyhound racing ban, and being re-elected so comprehensively was a reward for those efforts.

“When the greyhound ban came in, he won,” Board told Australian Racing Greyhound.

“He got 72 per cent of the vote this time. It just shows he talks common sense, and he doesn’t bow to all this anti stuff.

“Donato just sticks up to the Greens.

“He isn’t worried about them – he doesn’t worry about what the Greens say.

“He just wants the greyhounds here.”

Donato’s campaigning for a new $15 million centre of excellence to be built in Orange also won him plenty of votes in the region.

The facility will be owned by the Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Association and provide an annual $20 million boost to the local economy, which has been backed by Orange City Council.

Orange is favoured to get the facility over Bathurst, which the new Labor government wants to see up and running.

“I think it’s firmed for Orange because Donato got in, and Labor got in and they want to work with Donato,” Board said.

“It’s a good thing for Labor too. At the end of the day, it was the Liberals who shut us down.

“If Labor distance themselves from the Greens (it could be good for the industry).

“When he (Minns) said he wasn’t going to do a deal with the Greens a lot of people voted for him.

“The Libs are going down a completely different way. They were doing preference deals with the Greens.

“And they lost a lot of votes because of (former Treasurer) Matt Kean.”

Mileto is on the Orange City Council, and Board believes his public backing of Bathurst for the state-of-the-art new GBOTA facility over Orange hurt him at the state-election polling booths.

The Nationals member said Bathurst should not be left behind after its facility was left in ruins because of last year’s devastating floods.

“It’s between Orange and Bathurst, and Mileto said ‘no, it has to go to Bathurst’,” Board said.

“It was a bad mistake for him to not come out and say ‘we want it at Orange’.

“Donato and other councillors voted 8-2 in favour of having it at Orange.

“It was only the Green (David Mallard) and one other who didn’t.

“The Greens got four per cent of the votes on Saturday.”

In other good news for greyhound racing fans across NSW, the Animal Justice Party will not know if it will have one seat in the Upper House until April 20.

The anti-greyhound racing party had two seats – Emma Hurst and Mark Pearson – before last Saturday night’s election.

The AJP has been highly vocal in its desire to shut down greyhound racing.

“Greyhound racing and gambling are intimately connected. This inevitably leads to overbreeding and the killing of healthy dogs,” it says on its website.

“It is the AJP’s continued policy position that like dog fighting and bear baiting, the greyhound racing industry should be phased out, as it has been in the ACT and many other countries and jurisdictions.”

Board – who also owns a concrete business and lives at Spring Hill, near Orange – said not just himself but the greyhound industry throughout NSW were hopeful of soon seeing no AJP representatives in the Upper House.

“You can only hope … because these people just talk rubbish,” he said.

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