The ACT will join NSW in banning greyhound racing

Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Canberra will join New South Wales in banning greyhound racing in the wake of major concerns about the ethics of the industry.

NSW premier Mike Baird announced earlier on Thursday that the state government will wind up racing by July 1 next year.

The decision follows an inquiry into the industry by former High Court judge Michael McHugh following revelations of live baiting using rabbits, possums and baby piglets by some of the country’s top trainers by ABC TV’s Four Corners in February 2015.

The report, released today, found there was a “very real risk” that practices such as live baiting would continue, despite promises from the industry to clean up its act.

The industry’s assets will be transferred to the state, with Baird pledging to turn the sites, such as Wentworth Park on the edge of Sydney’s CBD, into community spaces.

But the announcement led to fears that the industry would shift to Canbberra. This afternoon, Australian Capital Territory chief minister Andrew Barr, who is currently in New Zealand, took to Facebook, like Baird, to say “there is no future for this industry in the ACT”.

A significant number of trainers that race in Canberra are based in NSW, he said, but his government “cannot continue to support an industry that is turning a blind eye to the sort of behaviour and cruelty uncovered by the Special Commission of Inquiry.”

ACT Racing currently has a memorandum of understanding that runs until June 2017.

“It is untenable for the ACT Government to continue allowing, and financially supporting the practice of greyhound racing,” Barr said, adding an “urgent review into the Special Inquiry Report will also consider the implications of ending the greyhound racing industry in Canberra”.

Victoria says it will allow racing to continue and the other state have yet to state a position, but the industry has already vowed to fight its closure in NSW.

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