NSW Premier Mike Baird’s backflip over his decision to ban greyhound racing has been met with mixed reactions.
While the move has been condemned by animal rights advocates and political opponents, there was much jubilation at the Gosford Greyhounds race meeting on Tuesday evening.
The Newsroom’s Noel Fisher went trackside to talk to trainers at the Gosford meet.
Fairfield dog trainer Matt Flint, owner of three-year-old Fab Surfy, was pleased with the overturned decision.
“It’s good news. A boost for everyone with greyhounds,” he told The Newsroom. “We have a bit of a future now.”
Tenambit resident Dean Hansen, who has only been in the industry for 12 months, told The Newsroom he was relieved about the decision.
“It’s been a bit downhill, but good news today,” he said.
Greyhound Breeders Owners and Training Association (GBOTA) Hunter Director Bradley Sabotic told The Newsroom he was pleased with the result and fully supported reforms to the industry, which will include breeding targets, restricted numbers of race meetings and protocols associated with retired dogs.
“We have been reforming over the last two years and we want a regulatory framework that will push out the small percentage of those that don’t do the right thing,” he said.
Kevin Gordon from the NSW Greyhound Racing Industry Alliance said he was excited that the Premier had admitted to making “a mistake”.
“He listened to the truth, we have been speaking the truth for the last 13 weeks. We believe that we now need to repay that lifeline that he has given us,” Mr Gordon said.
Carole Eaton from Jillaby, owner of three-year-old Queen Albury (pictured left), had nothing but praise for the greyhound industry.
“It is a beautiful family sport,” she told The Newsroom. “My mother had greyhounds and my kids want to get involved as well. Track closures will limit the number of races available.”
Greyhound trainer John Herd, 75, credits the greyhound industry for his longevity. “If it wasn’t for the dog racing, I would probably be in an old mans home,” he told The Newsroom. “The sport keeps me active and social. It’s a great bunch of people.”
But Mr Bairds’ political opponents have labelled the move as gutless, with Greens MP and animal welfare spokesperson Dr Mehreen Faruqi labelling the premier a “political coward”.
“We have seen a gutless Premier sign the death warrant on thousands of greyhounds today,” Dr Faruqi said.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) spokesperson Claire Fryer agreed. “Today is a sad day for the thousands of dogs who will now continue to suffer in this cruel and unjustifiable industry, but also for democracy,” she said.
Moving forward, a board will be set up headed by former premier Morris Iemma to map the direction of the industry in NSW and recommend reforms. – Story and Images by Noel Fisher.