Greyhound ban could have unintended consequences for agriculture

UNCERTAIN FUTURE: Wool merchant Ann Daniel is concerned the recent restrictions on the greyhound industry could have repercussions on other primary producers. Photo: Jessica Cole.
UNCERTAIN FUTURE: Wool merchant Ann Daniel is concerned the recent restrictions on the greyhound industry could have repercussions on other primary producers. Photo: Jessica Cole.

Local wool merchant Ann Daniel says the recent announcement from the Premier banning greyhound racing could have unintended consequences for other agricultural industry sectors.

Mrs Daniel keeps several thousand merino sheep on her property near Murrumbateman, producing many kilos of wool each year. She is concerned that Mike Baird’s banning of the greyhound industry from July 1, 2017 could set a precedent for other industries. 

“If politicians start restricting industry, it provides a basis for others to have the same restrictions placed on them,” she said.

“I'm opposed to them attacking what is essentially a working man’s sport. While it is great that they start putting pressure on animal cruelty, just because some dog breeders haven't done the right thing means they should be punished, not the whole industry. 

“It is sounding warning bells for any agriculture industry - for anyone that keeps, breeds or rears animals.”

For Mrs Daniel, her sheep usually produce wool until around eight years of age, which is usually around the term of their natural life. After they can’t produce any more wool, she sells them to an abattoir to be used for meat.

“It's not economically viable to keep a large amount of animals grazing in the paddock after they stop producing,” she said. 

“Before they lie down and die in the paddock, we do put them on the market to be sold off for meat.” 

Chief Executive of NSW Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers’ Association Brenton Scott says the decision will be before parliament this week. 

“The greyhound industry is fighting this decision, however, the fact is that if this ban goes ahead it could become a problem for the entire agricultural industry. The precedent set by this decision could have far reaching ramifications,” he said.

“This could mean that infertile layers will need to be nurtured for their natural life after they stop laying eggs; milkers will need to be put to pasture after they have dried up; breeding bulls and standing stallions will also need to be put to pasture and cared for, as will old breeding sows in the piggeries.

“The impacts on the rural sector are not only demonstrable but totally destructive of a whole way of life.” 

The greyhound industry has criticised Premier Baird’s decision to ban greyhound racing in NSW based on his inappropriate hijacking of the term ‘social licence’ and the fact that he has based his decision on the now widely shown to be flawed McHugh Report that relies on old data and the suggestion that an industry cannot change.  

“But is an even more dangerous term than ‘social licence,’ used in the McHugh Report and it is this that could directly affect agricultural industries,” Mr Scott said. “The report is justified, to a significant extent, by suggesting that dog owners are treating greyhounds as ‘dispensable commercial commodities’ and suggests that animals cannot be treated under any circumstances in this manner.

“The greyhound industry has presented that its industry is sustainable and can ensure a whole of life experience for our greyhounds with zero tolerance in respect to animal cruelty.”

Mr Baird will hold a special party room meeting on Monday afternoon as the government prepares to introduce legislation next week outlawing the sport.

Mr Baird reportedly told the meeting he had no intention of closing the industry before he read the damning report of the Special Commission of Inquiry in NSW Greyhound Racing by former High Court judge Michael McHugh.

Mr McHugh's report found as many as 68,000 greyhounds were slaughtered as "wastage" in the past 12 years "because they were considered too slow to pay their way or were unsuitable for racing".

It recommended the NSW Parliament decide whether the industry has lost its ‘social licence’ and should be no longer able to operate.

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