Mike Baird has just caved on his greyhound racing ban

NSW premier Mike Baird. Photo: Getty Images

The NSW greyhound racing industry will survive after the NSW government overturned its decision to close down racing in 2017.

Three months ago, premier Mike Baird surprised and shocked many when he announced the ban, declaring “the government had little choice but to take this course of action”.

His decision was made after a Special Commission of Inquiry found extensive and systematic animal abuse, with up to two-thirds of the 97,783 greyhounds bred for racing in the last 12 years killed because they were deemed uncompetitive.

“We simply cannot and will not stand-by and allow the widespread and systemic mistreatment of animals,” the premier said in July.

“The idea that the industry just needed better regulation and another chance was not borne out in the Inquiry. If you doubt this, please read the report for yourself,” he said in response to critics.

Today, Baird made a different choice in the biggest backdown in his two years in the state’s top job, despite consistently saying the ban was the “right thing to do”.

Baird’s capitulation is being viewed as a bid to stem his sliding popularity and quell disquiet in the ranks of the Coalition’s junior partner, The Nationals, where leader Troy Grant was facing a spill motion.

And unlike his previous decision, where the premier took to social media to simultaneously announce he would shut down the industry, Baird remains silent on Facebook, with the ABC reporting that Cabinet approved the change after meeting this morning.

As late as last week, Baird insisted the ban would go ahead, despite sustained industry and media pressure.

The ABC reports that as a compromise, the number of tracks will be reduced, with some being sold to fund upgrades, breeding will be capped at 2000 dogs annually, with a $1500 bond on every dog, and the number of races will also be cut.

The decision comes as another registered trainer was charged with allegedly live baiting at a Sydney property just two months ago.

The 27-year-old man was charged on Monday morning after police found a number images of the trainer and owner using live animals to train dogs in Cabramatta in Sydney’s southwest. He is due to face court today.

Opposition leader Luke Foley, who campaigned against the ban, claimed today that tougher government regulation will stamp it out animal abuse in the industry.

The government is reportedly planning harsher penalties for cruelty offences and a new organisation comprising of representatives from the RSPCA and the Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Association and others will oversee the industry and devise improved governance procedures and regulations.

More to come.

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