Flat White

Good governance goes to the dogs with Baird’s barking mad policy

23 August 2016

6:33 PM

23 August 2016

6:33 PM

New South Wales Premier Mike Baird appears to be emulating characters from American history with his barking mad bill banning greyhound racing in the state from July 1 next year, due for rubbing stamping in the Legislative Assembly this week.

On the eve of his departure from office after being defeated at the polls, John Adams, the second president, signed a number of judicial commissions most of which favoured his fellow Federalists.

Baird’s ‘midnight legislation,’ pushed through the Legislative Council at that unholy hour, should ensure his defeat at the next election.

While no one condones animal cruelty the vile antics of a few does not an industry cover. Baird had many more options open to him rather than the wrecking ball approach but the drama of being a latter day Lionel Murphy, apparently, was irresistible.

Not only did Baird fail to consult with the industry but the McHugh report he used to justify his drastic deeds was described by former federal Labor leader Mark Latham as the worst one of the many thousands he had read.

Baird has acted on the knee jerk reactions of the Twitterati and Facebookers. After the Four Corners expose, 18 months ago, that attitude was summed up by one over heated respondent on Facebook, who wrote that as greyhounds led ‘a life of slavery and servitude the whole industry should be shut down.’

Baird has now given a green light for the crazy left and animal rights activists to go after all three of the racing codes; sports that employs a quarter of a million people – and constitute the nation’s third largest industry.

Ray Hadley’s warning about this, on Sky TV, is in fact a couple of years too late.

After Admiral Rakti succumbed to a heart attack in the moments after the 2014 Melbourne Cup, the always keen to be quoted Greens Senator Scott Ludlum tweeted ‘We raced another horse to death. Hope there’s plenty of champagne.’

Ludlum earned a rebuke from the head of his home state’s Racehorse Owners Association, Darren McAullay, also the West’s premier race caller over the past 16 years. But his tripe is exactly what gets served up every time an animal dies in racing from those who have never thrown a leg over a horse or trained a canine.

There would be no such sports, including show jumping, eventing and dressage if the crazies have their way.

Media blowhards like Derryn Hinch and The Australian’s Patrick Smith were also involved in the campaign against jumps racing when that sport came under pressure.

Smith demanded that jumps racing be banned immediately because ‘the community has stopped jumping for joy.’

This was the forerunner of the broad-brush stroke used by McHugh in his report, and Baird later, to describe the appropriate ‘social licence’ – minus the evidence as to why the community attitude has shifted to claim animal welfare completely trumps jobs, taxes and enjoyment.

Why not ban Christmas festivities too? That way we could save thousands of chooks, ducks, turkeys and pigs by destroying the jobs of those engaged in such industries.

Smith, instead of being the spokesman for the valley of the loons, may do well to reflect on the words of the great American racing writer, Joe H. Palmer who once wrote a horse cannot pile up boxes on a platform to get a banana on a ceiling.

Why? Because he has no hands with which to pick up the box and he doesn’t like bananas anyway.

Instead what horses (and dogs) like to do is run, jump and swim, as anyone who has ever had anything to do with animal activities can testify. They cannot be forced or trained to do things that do not come naturally to them.

Hinch’s hysterical claims were that jumps racing was on a par with blood sports such as bull and cock fighting, equating equestrian activities with those that demand the death of animals, have become an given. We can expect them to be aired yet again once he has the Senate chamber to pontificate in.

Victoria responded to calls when veterinarian Denis Napthine was minister for racing and premier with reforms to jumps racing, not its prohibition.

The NSW greyhound ban is an admission of failure on the part of the Baird Government that it cannot get its ‘kennels in order’ over matters such as live baiting.

Western Australia’s chief greyhound steward Carlos Martins is the longest serving ‘chief stipe’ in the nation. Early in his career he acted promptly to close down the sort of activity, now bedevilling the sport in NSW.

In 1990, Martins carried out surveillance on the Bushmead training track and, working with police, exposed the cruel and dodgy dealers.

Some thought at the time he was too hard and that he should have warned off the offenders by informing them they were being watched, as mad a suggestion as saying police should tip off drug dealers before a raid.

Yet his tough approach has paid off. NSW should have followed suit, restructuring racing with appropriate integrity and policing policies, coupled with strong penalties. Running up a white flag is cowardice, not a solution.

The only aggressive action Baird took was to give the NSW upper house 10 minutes to read the bill instead of the normal five days’ notice and to destroy the livelihood of an overwhelming number of law abiding citizens, many in regional areas where work is hard to come by.

Fifteen thousand jobs, including 2700 full time positions, will be shed – all thanks to barking mad activists.

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