The NSW Government’s decision to repeal legislation banning greyhound racing from July, 2017, has unsurprisingly been welcomed by the greyhound industry and their supporters.
In announcing the ban in July, the State Government clearly under-estimated the backlash from the industry and the extent of sympathy for those who depend on it for their livelihood and those for whom it is an important part of their lives. Many argued that responsible dog owners had been harshly penalised for the actions of a few “bad eggs”.
Opponents of the ban were able to capitalise on the pending Orange by-election to ensure that political survival over-rode matters of principle.
But in bowing to the Nationals and supporters of the greyhound industry, the NSW Government risks losing the support of those who applauded the original decision.
A national ABC poll of 22,000 people conducted in July after the ban was announced, found that 82 per cent were in favour of shutting down the industry in Australia completely.
Those who share this opinion will likely be angered by the Baird Government’s backdown.
And at the same time, tighter restrictions on the greyhound industry are likely to be resisted by some in the industry.
However, the short-lived greyhound ban could have had some positive aspects.
It has brought to light cruel practices in the greyhound industry and promoted public debate about these practices.
It has put the industry on notice that they are under scrutiny, not only from animal welfare groups but also from the members of the general public who have made it clear that want the industry to clean up its act, and this scrutiny is unlikely to diminish after the legislation is repealed.
Stricter caps on the numbers of greyhounds bred, together with bonds for each animal owned, should encourage breeders to be more selective in breeding dogs, increasing the standard and value of dogs and giving owners more incentive to ensure dogs are cared for during and after their racing career.
The NSW greyhound racing industry has been given a second chance. It’s now up to owners, breeders and trainers to work with the government to adopt measures which will reassure the public the industry is willing to make changes for the better.