Greyhound ban is the ‘start of a slippery slope’

THE CASINO Greyhound Racing Club is "reasonably confident" NSW Premier Mike Baird's snap decision to ban greyhound racing by July 2017 can be overturned.

Club manager Ron Herd said he hadn't even begun to look at the government compensation available.

That's because the Casino greyhound industry, which he said pumps $6 million into the local economy per year, is only treating the ban as a recommendation, rather than a forgone conclusion.

Only recently the Casino track had been given a $750,000-plus upgrade, which included a safer loam track.

"It's business as usual," he said.

Mr Herd said members of the NSW Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Association had been buoyed since forming a crack legal team to fight the legislation last week.

Former solicitor-general of Australia, David Bennett QC, has been hired to head the legal battle to save the industry.

The legal team is now trawling through matters of procedural bias, administrative law and constitutional failings.

Political strategy firm Barton Deakin has been employed to lobby politicians and Labor leader Luke Foley has made a "captain's call" against the ban.

Mr Herd said the club had not been contacted directly by the government, and had been largely left in the dark.

"It's great that Richmond Valley Council has come out on our side though," he said.

"There is a lot of people power. I'm reasonably confident we can overturn the ban."

It is estimated Casino has 200 trainers and 1000 greyhounds situated in the 2470 postcode.

What's next? Banning sheep dogs?

Mr Herd believed the city-centric ban could be the start of a slippery slope which threatened regional people and their way of life.

"The horse racing industry should be worried," he said

"What's next? Horses, harness racing, rodeos, dog trials? Really? Are we going to ban working dog trials because someone says, 'What about the poor sheep?'. Where does this stop?"

Report damning

NSW Premier Mike Baird has announced the ban was "in response to widespread illegal and unconscionable activity, including the slaughtering of tens of thousands of dogs".

"More than a year ago, we established a Special Commission of Inquiry into the greyhound industry after very disturbing reports emerged of cruelty to animals and other illegal activities," he said.

The report of the Commission, conducted by former High Court Judge Michael McHugh, was damning. It found in NSW in the last 12 years somewhere between 48,891 and 68,448 dogs were killed because they were considered too slow to pay their way or were unsuitable for racing. In the industry, they call this 'wastage'.

However Mr Herd said those numbers assumed that every dog that retired was killed.

"That's not true. Some went to homes. Not all died," he said.

He also denied that up to 20% of trainers engaged in live baiting.

"A far as I am aware, I don't know of it happening in Casino," he said.


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