Publicity surrounding the NSW Government’s decision to put an end to greyhound racing in the state may have contributed towards the success of Grafton Greyhound Racing Club’s annual carnival, says the club’s president John Corrigan.
“We’ve had probably the best carnival that we’ve had in a long time this year, as far as attendance goes, and as far as our bar and canteen’s turnover goes,” he said.
“We are very, very happy with the way that everything went.
“I think the publicity certainly helped; people were aware that we were racing and I think they came out to support us.”
Premier Mike Baird and Deputy Premier and Minister for Racing Troy Grant announced on July 7 that the NSW Government is “acting to protect animal welfare as a priority, and is planning for an orderly industry shutdown as of 1 July 2017”.
They released the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry in NSW report, which “found that between 48,000 and 68,000 greyhounds – or at least half of all greyhounds bred to race – were killed in the past 12 years because they were deemed uncompetitive”.
The report also states up to 20 per cent of trainers engage in live baiting and that 180 greyhounds a year sustain “catastrophic injuries” during races, such as skull fractures and broken backs that resulted in their immediate deaths.
Meanwhile, Mr Corrigan said owners and trainers from as far afield as “Geelong and Bendigo in Victoria, Bathurst in NSW, all over NSW and from Queensland up as far as the Sunshine Coast in Queensland”, attended the carnival.
“We had 41 vans on the course – it’s an opportunity for them to come to Grafton to be with people that race greyhounds and catch up with them every year,” he said.
There were six meetings, each with 12 races, and “at least 96 dogs drawn for each meeting”.
Mr Corrigan said the government’s announcement had come “as a complete shock to all of the participants; they were very disappointed with what happened, but being the resilient types that they are, were prepared to contest the ban and do what they can to see it overturned”.
He said the government had over-reacted to the report and noted that “Greyhound Racing NSW was taking care of [issues raised in a Four Corners report]” and issues raised in the report to the NSW Government.
“They’ve put procedures in place to make sure those types of things doesn’t [continue to] happen in the greyhound industry,” he said.
On the wastage issue, Mr Corrigan said it had been “grossly exaggerated”.
“It is an issue, but it’s no more an issue in the greyhound industry than it is in horse racing,” he said.
He said that, through the efforts of Greyhound Racing NSW, there has been a “50 per cent reduction in the number of litters this year”.
He pointed out that “Greyhound Racing NSW provides 44.2 per cent of all pups born in Australasia”.
“So [the ban] is not only going to affect NSW; it’s going to affect the rest of Australia and New Zealand – those figures come from Greyhounds Australasia,” he said.
“Tell me something, where are they [governments] going to get the $320million that they get out of the TAB every year?”
Meanwhile, NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley, who attended the meeting held on Wednesday July 13, said: “People throughout the industry are devastated that their life’s work will be declared illegal and that their pastime will be banned as the government wipes out an entire industry.
“I’m fighting now to try and convince National Party MPs to work with us to save the industry.”
Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis, who was attending a funeral, was not available for comment as the Independent went to press.