New South Wales, Australia, will be the first state in the country to ban greyhound racing. NSW Premier Mike Baird made the announcement on Thursday morning, and the news was met with a positive response from animal rights groups across the nation and majority of the Australian public. The decision to ban greyhound racing was broken down in a Walkley-winning report by Four Corners that prompted a Special Commission of Inquiry.
“The inquiry’s report concluded that the NSW Greyhound Racing Industry has fundamental animal welfare issues, integrity and governance failings that can not be remedied,” stated Commissioner McHugh’s report.
“The NSW Government will announce a detailed industry shutdown plan during the second half of 2016 following consultation with stakeholders in industry and animal welfare organisations.”
The ban on greyhound racing came after animal cruelty was found to be at the heart of the industry after ongoing investigations initially uncovered by the ABC show Four Corners. The investigation discovered that 48,000 to 68,000 greyhounds, at least half of all greyhounds bred to race, have been killed in the past 12 years because they were deemed not competitive enough, according to the Huffington Post. Of the ones that do make the cut, an average of 180 die during races after suffering “catastrophic injuries” including skull fractures and broken backs.
The investigation also uncovered that 20 percent of greyhound trainers used live baiting during training and hung up live piglets, rabbits, and native wildlife such as possums to “blood” the dogs, a practice that Baird said is “chilling, confronting, [and] horrific.” The live baiting was caught on camera and used by Four Corners to rouse the public in a bid to fight against the cruel practice.
The ban on greyhound racing will not be immediate and Baird said that “over the coming months,” the government would “consult with the industry,” and information on the government’s greyhound racing inquiry with an aim of making the cruel sport illegal by July, 2017.
“As a humane and responsible government, we are left with no acceptable course of action except to close this industry down.”
The plan to stop the sport by 2017 will include welfare plans for existing greyhounds, support packages for the industry, and a “transition arrangement for existing Greyhound Racing NSW assets that will ensure they are used for open public space, alternative sporting facilities or other community use.”
There has been an outcry from some people worried that 10,000 jobs will be lost if the greyhound industry comes to an end, but a majority of people are for it. Greyhound racing also represents around 5 percent of betting agency Tabcorp’s total wagering turnover but the agency is not fighting the ban. They said the following in a statement.
“Tabcorp expects a significant level of substitution will occur to other wagering product, such as thoroughbred racing, harness racing, sport and animated racing.
“Tabcorp’s media business, Sky Racing, will work with other Australian and international racing industry bodies to source alternative racing product.”
Chief Minister Andrew Barr has since backed the ban against greyhound racing and wants to bring it to the Capital saying “there is no future” for greyhound racing in the ACT.
“Having had an initial look at the NSW report, we agree with the decision of the NSW government,” Barr wrote in a Facebook post.
“We will consider the findings of the NSW report before announcing a process to end the practice of greyhound racing in the ACT. The findings from the Special Commission of Inquiry into the NSW greyhound racing industry are damning.”
Greens NSW MP and Animal Welfare Spokesperson Dr. Mehreen Faruqi has praised the decision to ban greyhound racing, and the Four Corners report that shone a light on the cruelty in the racing industry.
“This is a win for animals,” Faruqi said.
“Animal welfare activists have worked tirelessly for this outcome for so many years. Our focus must now be on the welfare of the animals in the industry to ensure that they are re-homed and given appropriate support.”
Not everyone is happy about the ban on greyhound racing though, and the Greyhound Racing New South Wales media general manager, Michael East, said the Baird government had not told him about the findings from the report.
“We were aware the report had been handed down and that it was always an option but we had not been told it was going to happen,” he said.
“I just found out then. I need to talk to our CEO before saying anything.”
“Why should the whole industry have to suffer the consequences? More regulation was needed — no argument — but not a blanket ban.”
Regulation will not be enough to end the cruelty that goes on behind greyhound racing doors and the public is rejoicing at the total ban. The ACT has followed suit in the move to ban greyhound racing and the consensus is that the rest of the states and territories across Australia will ban the cruel practice as well, according to the Daily Telegraph.
How the ban unfolded: A Timeline
- February 16, 2015: Four Corners reveals the use of live piglets, possums, and rabbits to train greyhounds across three states and shows graphic images.
- Early 2015: Following the report, there is wide condemnation of trainers from the public and government.
- May 6, 2015: Honorable Michael McHugh is appointed to head up an inquiry into the NSW greyhound industry.
- June 2, 2015: Queensland abolishes all racing boards in response to the growing scandal.
- Late 2015 – early 2016: NSW and Queensland police start to charge greyhound trainers caught live baiting.
- June 16, 2016: Commissioner McHugh hands down his report.
- July 7, 2016: NSW Premier Mike Baird announces industry shut down based on the report.
- July 1, 2017: NSW greyhound racing industry is set to be shut down.
Find the full report here.
[Photo by Peter Parks/Getty Images]