THE Baird government has pushed ahead with its plan to ban greyhound racing in NSW, despite opposition from its own back-bench.
The Government’s Upper House leader, Duncan Gay, introduced the bill as “urgent” legislation on Wednesday, speeding up its likely passage through the parliament.
It prompted howls of anger from Labor who accused the government of acting “undemocratically”. Labor leader Luke Foley accused the government of using “unseemly haste” to fast-track the bill using “urgency provisions ordinarily used to pass special anti-terrorist laws”.
Mr Foley and his deputy Michael Daley leaped on a clause in the bill that states “compensation will not be payable by the State” as a result of the bill, saying the government was “punishing good people” and “robbing them of their livelihoods”.
“We see a bill that cruelly denies compensation, expressly denies compensation, to people who will lose their livelihoods,” Mr Foley said.
The government has said it will provide an “industry adjustment package” that would seek to “minimise” the “pain caused to industry”, though there was no detail about that released on Wednesday.
But Mr Foley said there should be “discussion upfront” about assistance.
“We’re talking the criminalisation of a $335 million a year industry [and] not a word in the government’s legislation about what assistance people will be given just an express provision of no compensation,” he said.
Members of the government and opposition were expected to debate the bill into the early hours of Thursday morning and, despite opposition from at least one government MP, was expected to pass the bill with the support of the Greens and Animal Justice Party member Mark Pearson.
Outspoken former Liberal Party whip Peter Phelps described his government’s decision as “bad politics” and “bad policy”, linked the bill to fears it will lead to a ban of the thoroughbred horse racing industry.
“The same sought of arguments being made today for the abolition of the greyhound industry can and will be made and are in fact currently being made by animal rights activists to shutdown the trotting and horse racing industries,” he said.
“Animals are property they are not persons and the mere fact of sentience does not grant you comparable rights to humans.”
But Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi said there were “systemic and endemic animal cruelty on a large scale” in the greyhound industry.