The New South Wales Greens have labelled Premier Mike Baird a "coward" for backflipping on his controversial greyhound racing ban. Tuesday morning the Premier announced his decision to reverse the legislation, which were set to come into effect in July 2017.
In July, Baird's proposed greyhound racing ban was praised by animal rights groups and the Greens. But the Premier subsequently came under fire for what racing industry groups have perceived as a knee-jerk reaction to a Four Corners segment, which exposed systematic cruelty against dogs—including live baiting practices.
The Baird government ordered a special inquiry into the industry after the television programme aired, and the results were damning.
Led by commissioner Michael McHugh, the special inquiry found evidence of systemic animal cruelty within the greyhound racing industry. This included mass greyhound killings and live baiting during secret training sessions. According to the report, of the 97,783 greyhounds bred in the last 12 years—which amounted to between 48,891 and 68,448 dogs—were killed because they were deemed uncompetitive as racing animals.
"As a humane and responsible Government, we are left with no acceptable course of action except to close this industry down," Baird said in a statement in July.
"This is the inevitable conclusion to be drawn from the appalling revelations in Mr McHugh's report and his considered view that any other measures are unlikely to protect animals from further cruelty."
Baird's new policy on greyhound racing will impose heavy regulations on the industry. It will include tough penalties for live baiting practices, breeding to be capped at 2,000 dogs, and reduction of greyhound racing tracks.
For the Greens, this isn't enough. In a media statement released today, Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi said that the backflip proved Baird was a political coward.
"Just a few months ago, Mike Baird said he had no option but to ban the cruel greyhound racing industry after the horrific revelations of animal cruelty. We should have known better than to trust that he would put animal welfare above his own political interests," she said.
"NSW Labor's role in overturning what was one of the greatest animal welfare advances in this state is incredibly shameful and will not be forgotten. Labor cannot be trusted on any animal welfare issue ever again. They have blood on their hands."
On the positive side, Baird's backflip suggests he's able to change his mind, even if it makes him look bad. Some will be hoping he reverses his stance on Sydney's much-protested lockout laws, too.
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