A PETITION by Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery is set to start a debate in NSW Parliament about overturning the Baird government’s ban on greyhound racing.
The state Labor MP and spokeswoman for the Hunter said she had 9,500 signatures on Tuesday and, with support still be tallied from the sport’s strongholds of Richmond, Wentworth and Dapto, seemed guaranteed of the 10,000 needed to trigger a debate on the embattled industry’s future.
“It’s a statewide petition, and so far the support is taken mostly from the Hunter and the Upper Hunter,” Ms Hornery
“People have signed it in my office and taken it to various events, and it’s had support from people in the Wallsend community at sporting events and clubs.”
When the petition reaches 10,000 physical – as opposed to online – signatures, with the addresses of the signatories, Ms Hornery will table it for debate one Thursday afternoon in the next month.
The state opposition’s likely four speakers on the matter are Ms Hornery, Labor leader Luke Foley, Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison and Shellharbour Labor MP Anna Watson, whose seat includes Dapto.
Ms Hornery said a “humane, well-administered” greyhound industry could be negotiated within the terms of the Special Commission of Inquiry that has proved damning for the sport.
“I want to see the government comply with the first recommendation of the report – to debate the matter in Parliament. This petition will do that,” she said.
“Those of us who grew up in Wallsend grew up around people who had dogs, and we also grew up comfortable with it. Because we saw that those dogs were treated like family members.”
The impending closure of Newcastle Greyhounds, the sport’s local mecca formerly known as Birmingham Gardens, will affect many local people and organisations, Ms Hornery said.
“That includes Wallsend soccer who have a good relationship with the Gardens for using their field, and the local Men’s Shed, who have used the premises.”
The MP’s petition comes three weeks after the release of the Special Commission of Inquiry into greyhound racing by former High Court judge Michael McHugh, which followed an expose of live baiting in the industry on ABC TV’s Four Corners.
It found as many as 68,000 greyhounds were killed in the past 12 years “because they were considered too slow to pay their way or were unsuitable for racing”, and the state government vowed to close the industry on July 1 next year.