Aussies re­verse grey­hound rul­ing

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

AUS­TRALIA’S most pop­u­lous state made an em­bar­rass­ing back­flip yes­ter­day on its plan to ban grey­hound rac­ing after sus­tained in­dus­try and pub­lic pres­sure, ad­mit­ting the gov­ern­ment “got it wrong”.

New South Wales Pre­mier Mike Baird an­nounced in July that he would shut down the sport in 12 months’ time after a se­ries of “dis­turb­ing and hor­rific” scan­dals in­clud­ing “live bait­ing” and the slaugh­ter of tens of thou­sands of dogs.

But the con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sion was widely seen as a knee-jerk re­ac­tion and met with a back­lash from the pub­lic, with fears that re­gional com­mu­ni­ties re­liant on the in­dus­try could be dev­as­tated.

There was also wide­spread po­lit­i­cal, in­dus­try and media pres­sure to re­con­sider the ban.

The once pop­u­lar Baird, who has seen his ap­proval rat­ings plum­met this year due to a num­ber of is­sues, in­clud­ing the grey­hound ban, said he had lis­tened to feed­back.

“It’s clear in hind­sight, as we re­flect on this, we got it wrong. I got it wrong, cab­i­net got it wrong, the gov­ern­ment got it wrong,” he said in Syd­ney.

“I pre­vi­ously didn’t think the in­dus­try could change. It is clear the com­mu­nity wants to give them the op­por­tu­nity.

“To­day I can an­nounce the grey­hound in­dus­try will be given one last chance. It will be given an op­por­tu­nity to re­form as it needs to.”

Baird said the in­dus­try had come up with a num­ber of new ini­tia­tives and the gov­ern­ment would be “en­sur­ing the tough­est an­i­mal wel­fare stan­dards and reg­u­la­tion are put in place”, with a new body es­tab­lished to over­see dog rac­ing.

“We are not re­turn­ing to the sta­tus quo. The bar­baric prac­tices we have seen have to end,” he added.

Aus­tralia has one of the world’s largest grey­hound rac­ing in­dus­tries and live bait­ing has been banned for decades.

But last year na­tional broad­caster ABC re­vealed that live an­i­mals such as piglets, rab­bits and pos­sums were used as bait to train some of the coun­try’s most successful dogs.

Grey­hounds tra­di­tion­ally chase an ar­ti­fi­cial hare or rab­bit and the rev­e­la­tions sparked raids across New South Wales, Vic­to­ria and Queens­land states that rocked the in­dus­try.

It prompted an in­quiry by the New South Wales gov­ern­ment that un­cov­ered wide­spread live bait­ing and the mass killing of tens of thou­sands of dogs con­sid­ered too slow to pay their way.

The probe also re­vealed sys­temic de­cep­tion of the pub­lic about the num­bers of deaths and in­juries – such as skull frac­tures and bro­ken backs – dur­ing races. –

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