08 July 2016
by James Thomson

NSW bans greyhound racing

The NSW decision to ban greyhound racing has sparked a debate in other parts of the country about what to do about the sport.

Greyhound racing in other Australian states appears certain to come under pressure, with the Greens immediately calling for bans in Queensland and Victoria. The ACT chief minister said on Thursday afternoon he would ban racing in the territory.

Greyhound Racing Victoria chair Bernie Carolan said the industry was smaller in Victoria and the industry had already taken steps to improve the welfare of dogs.

He conceded that the NSW shutdown "will put immense regulatory, compliance, re-homing and operational pressures on another states, especially Victoria, as they handle a potential influx of new participants and dogs."

Premier Mike Baird said he would not allow the widespread and systemic mistreatment of animals after a damning inquiry found tens of thousands of dogs were being killed because they weren't competitive.

"I feel much empathy for innocent trainers and those who will lose their job or hobby as a result of this. And I understand the disappointment of people who enjoy having a punt on the dogs," he said in a statement.

Greyhound Racing NSW said it was devastated by the decision and suspended racing for seven days, beginning immediately.

The final races in the state will be held on June 30, 2017, to allow an "orderly" shutdown of the sport.

The NSW government set up a commission to investigate the sport 12 months ago headed by former High Court Judge Michael McHugh.

​His report found that of the 97,783 greyhounds bred in NSW in the last 12 years, between 48,891 and 68,448 dogs were killed "because they were considered too slow to pay their way or were unsuitable for racing".

The report found stated that "it appears unlikely that the issue of the large-scale killing of healthy greyhounds by the industry can be addressed successfully in the future".

Mr McHugh also found that the practice of "live baiting" where a greyhound is encouraged to kill a live animal such as a rabbit as part of its training is widespread.

Mr Baird said there were 1000 direct jobs in the industry and nearly 6000 registered owners of greyhounds in NSW.

Glenn Starr, the owner of Bathurst-based greyhound rearing business Starr Kennels, said the announcement had come as a complete shock. His family has worked with greyhounds since 1930 and in the past has supplied celebrity clients such as former Sydney Swans player, Tony Lockett.

"It's not just the financial side. People love the sport and their dogs, it is a sad day," Mr Starr said.

"The whole industry was looking to reform and were working towards implementing those changes."

Mr Starr said it was unfortunate that the entire NSW greyhound industry had been tarred because of a small group of people.

"Every industry has their problems but everyone has to be treated as an individual," he said. "There are people that have been in the industry for 40 to 50 years and we've all been penalised."

The move is also a blow for gaming companies such as Tatts Group and Tabcorp.

Tabcorp said that NSW greyhound racing represents around 5 per cent of its total wagering turnover.

"However, 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."

Tabcorp shares fell 6 per cent to $4.30 in early afternoon trade. Tatts shares were 0.7 per cent lower at $3.78.

Figures from the racing industry show $1.13 billion was punted on greyhound racing in NSW in 2014-15, a large proportion of the $4.2 billion wagered across the country in the same year.

Around $2 billion of this was wagered with Tabcorp, and $480 million with Tatts.