So our live tweeting Bachelor fan turned #nannystate enthusiast, Mike #casinomike Baird, has today shown his compassionate side, by banning greyhound racing in New South Wales. “What a guy” claim the animal lovers who normally only voice their opinion on the racing industry when they protest the Melbourne Cup. Granted, the dishlickers have had their fair share of controversy, not least when the horrific practice of live baiting was exposed in 2015. But make no mistake, this is not the kind-hearted act of a compassionate premier looking out for the welfare of animals.
As of July 2017 when the ban comes into effect, 36 greyhound tracks will be ripe for developers picking. But perhaps no site is more valuable than Wentworth Park, located on the Blackwattle Bay foreshore. The NSW government, City of Sydney council and a swathe of developers have been licking their lips over that site for a long time now. The only problem was the site had been leased to the greyhound industry until 2027. A long time to wait, especially for those wanting to make a quick buck.
But minor details like leases or laws have never been one to deter this current NSW teetotalitarianist regime. Just like we saw back in 2012 & 13, when James Packer wanted a casino, Barry O’Farrell simply changed the rules.And just like we saw in 2014 when lockouts were introduced, both sides of government were more than happy to usher them through. Anything is possible when you can just legislate to get your way!
“Not only has property developer Brookfield Multiplex got Wentworth Park greyhound racetrack in its sights – it is also seeking to redevelop a swathe of the Blackwattle Bay foreshore.
The company wants to include the Sydney Fish Markets, the only public high school for students in the inner city, a concrete works and boat wharf in its unsolicited bid, set to be lodged with the state government.”
Even Panthers Leagues were in on the deal, pledging along with Brookfield to fund moving the track to Eastern Creek. An expense nobody will need to worry about now.
In 2015, further plans were being mooted for the site, despite 12 years remaining on the lease. Despite not being able to draw a sell out crowd at the entertainment centre since the glory days of Tim Morrissey, Shane Heal and Dwayne McClain, the Sydney Kings were championing the development of a 12,000 person stadium on the site. The NSW government were in full support, pledging to back the project to the tune of $150 million. Sports Minister Stuart Ayers was even spruiking the benefits for other popular sports, such as badminton.
“The NSW Government is in regular contact with the Sydney Kings,” Mr Ayres said.
“The announcement of the new indoor arena in the CBD precinct will certainly provide a new home for basketball, as well as netball, tennis and badminton.
“A feasibility study will get under way in coming months. The feasibility study will investigate potential sites for the arena.”
Greyhound industry insiders knew something was amiss when in massive tax cuts were handed to the racing industry in 2015. Mike Baird and Tony Grant opted to slash racing taxes, bringing them in line with other states around the country, notably the home of racing in Australia – Victoria. $10 million was used to fund The Championships earlier this year and country racing is seeing an immediate benefit. In the years to come Racing NSW is expected to yield over $100 million. After all, it is a very lucrative industry responsible for billions in revenue and tens of thousands of jobs. The greyhound industry was not to be allocated a slice of the pie.
Tony Grant said change will secure the future of the racing industry in NSW and allow it to thrive and be competitive with other states.
“The industry is worth $3.3 billion per year to NSW and employs almost 56,000 people – we want to secure its future for the economy and the race-going public,” Grant said.
“Such an important industry needs to be able to compete on a level playing field, otherwise we’re sending jobs and investment interstate.”
Given the bulk of these cuts are not likely to show effect until 2017, it was curious to observe the changes to expected racing revenue in the NSW budget earlier this year.
As you can see above, Racing revenue is considerably less than previous years – perhaps a clue of what was to occur today. Curiously, casino figures are down from what was budgeted – perhaps due to an overly excited treasurer the previous year. Still a huge sum regardless, and a continuance of previous growth. Also notable is the massive growth in stamp duty and land tax expected.
As for the positives, banning greyhound racing in New South Wales is hardly going to prove a determent to unscrupulous owners and trainers. Those individuals, driven by greed, will simply take their operations interstate. At the time of publication, both Victoria and Queensland have stated they will not be following suit.
Out of sight, out of mind – or so it would seem for the Baird government. Law-abiding owners and trainers who adore their dogs will be faced with the heartbreaking decision of what to do with their animals now they no longer have a livelihood. I can only hope Baird has a very good re-homing strategy in place, otherwise how many innocent dogs will be culled for his so-called greater good? If Australian Veterinary Association spokesman David Neck’s remarks are anything to go by, I wouldn’t be too optimistic.
Australian Veterinary Association spokesman David Neck described the state government’s outline to re-home thousands of racing greyhounds as “flaky” and said he wanted to see more details before he supported the decision.
“If it involves euthanasia then it has achieved the very thing it was set out to stop, and that’s what the vets are concerned about,” Dr Neck told AAP
Perhaps a wiser approach for someone truly concerned for the welfare of animals would have been to impose stronger regulations on the industry and harsher penalties for those who operate illegally? But that’s not how our state government works. Out of approximately 12,000 owners and trainers, about 10 were found to participate in live baiting and other illegal acts. But just like a city was punished for the actions of a few, an industry is being punished for the actions of 10.
More tellingly, punishing only the few would not help achieve the greater financial good. This is a state government that implemented lockout laws, yet allows people to drink after hours at the casino. This is a government that has constantly cracked down on smoking, going as far as to make being arrested for lighting up a possibility – despite packets being freely available anywhere and everywhere, albeit becoming a few bucks more expensive every few months.
It’s painfully obvious to see what this ban appears to be all about, and time will tell what our city ends up with down at Blackwattle Bay – especially now that pesky lease will no doubt be cancelled 11 years early, no doubt with any cancellation fees generously waived for the greyhound industry tenants.
But please, tell me again how this is all about animal welfare?
For anyone interested in greyhound adoption please check out the following sites –
or jump on google and check out all the various options.