Racing ban sets scene for political dog fight

The official fight over the ban on greyhound racing is off and running with petitions, a rally, other protests, a potential court battle and political in-fighting inside the NSW Coalition.

The greyhound industry mounted a public offensive in Sydney on Tuesday with a rally in Hyde Park and handed petitions over to Labor Oppositon leader Luke Foley. It is preparing for its legal fight.

In quieter forums – maybe not that much quieter – NSW’s Liberal and Nationals MPs were thrashing out the issue.

Some from both parties oppose the ban announced by Premier Mike Baird and Deputy Premier and Dubbo MP Troy Grant.

The ban was announced without consulting their party rooms and before placing it before Parliament, where the elected representatives of the people, normally debate, decide and vote on issues.

The announcement of a ban instead of giving the greyhound industry a chance to get its house in order has been widely criticised.

It came after a report on a government inquiry showed about 68,000 greyhounds were killed because of “wastage” – that is they were not winners and too expensive keep. There would not be many who would not agree the report was certainly damaging to the industry and its contents horrendous.

Some Nationals MPs have strongly criticised the ban. There have also been rumblings about the lack of process in making the decision – no consultation with or warning to the industry. No consultation with MPs.

Premier Baird – along with Mr Grant - may believe he has taken decisive, quick action to solve a serious problem.

In taking quick action Mr Baird and Mr Grant have created a public fight. The power of government resources may well deal with that.

In the political backrooms the picture could be different. Nationals, Barwon’s Kevin Humphries, Cootamundra’s Katrina Hodgkinson and Clarence’s Chris Gulaptis have publicly attacked the ban. Liberal MPs fronted Mr Baird in the party room.

The lack of consultation is a theme in quiet conversations in Coalition circles. Examples are cited, the most recent of which are forced council mergers and now the dogs.

Perhaps, the two leaders need to be cautious that their quick decisions don’t come back to bite them.