Greyhound racing ban: "I got it wrong,'' says Baird
PREMIER Mike Baird has admitted he "got it wrong" as he is hounded for backflipping on his state-wide greyhound racing ban.
Plagued by disastrous polling in regional seats and leadership struggles within the National Party wing of the NSW Coalition Government, Mr Baird reversed the decision to ban the sport from July 2017.
"Obviously this is an issue that we got wrong," he told a media conference.
"I'm not trying to sugar-coat it. I've got it wrong.
"And part of government is, at all times, trying to get every decision right - that's obviously the single driver that you have.
"But there will be times when you don't… the community has told us that, and we've heard that across the state."
Racing will be allowed to continue with several new conditions.
Breeding will be capped and a $1500 bond will have to be paid for each dog, with a maximum 2000 racing greyhounds across the state.
Penalties for people who abuse greyhounds will be increased, with possible jail terms, and the industry will have to fund increased regulation.
Race numbers will also drop and up to half of the state's greyhound tracks will have to be sold.
There has been no word on which tracks would be retired.
Mr Baird said the principles had not changed - the industry was cruel and needed to be cleaned up if it were to continue.
"The animal cruelty that we saw can't continue, and there were two paths," he said.
"The first path we chose was wrong but there is a new path."
Former NSW premier Morris Iemma will lead a special panel to ensure "the toughest animal welfare standards, the toughest regulation and governance, are put in place".
Greyhound racing ban overturned in NSW
GREYHOUND racing will remain in New South Wales after a spectacular backflip by the Premier Mike Baird which has been condemned by animal rights groups.
The ABC reported a short time ago that State Cabinet had given the tick of approval to the backdown.
The ban was announced three months ago and was due to come in July next year.
But after a dramatic slump in the opinion polls and a revolt from some Nationals MPs, Mr Baird has changed his mind.
In August, Mr Baird said the ban was about trying to "do what is right".
It came after a special commission of inquiry report that found up to 68,000 "uncompetitive" greyhounds were slaughtered in the past 12 years and nearly one in five trainers used live animal baits.
However, arecent Newspoll showed Mr Baird's approval rate had slumped from 61% to 39% since December due to a number of issues, including the ban on greyhound racing and Sydney's alcohol "lockout" laws.
There have already been calls on Twitter for Mr Baird to also reverse the lockout laws.
The ABC reported Nationals leader and Deputy Premier Troy Grant had threatened leadership spill in Monday night's partyroom meeting.
The government says it will introduce tough penalties with a greater emphasis on animal welfare and dealing with cruelty through more funding for RSPCA and other groups.
An oversight body will be tasked over the next few months to draw up a new governance, regulatory structure and all the finer details, the ABC reported.
The Daily Telegraph reported this week that radio broadcaster Alan Jones met with Mr Baird, telling him his political future depends on the reversal of the greyhound racing ban.
Jones has been vocal about his opinion of the ban and of the premier himself, labelling him "stubborn" on-air last week.
The pair met at Jones' Circular Quay apartment, The Daily Telegraph reported.
During his show on 2GB on Monday morning, Jones told listeners Mr Baird's backflip "has to happen" and that he had warned him his political career depended on the decision.
"I did make the point that if he didn't (overturn the ban), his government would be dead in the water," Jones said.
"I also gently reminded him that someone would have given him this ridiculous advice (to shut down the greyhound industry in New South Wales) and perhaps that person should be at Centrelink today."
More to come
Do you support the NSW Govt decision to backflip on its greyhound ban?
This poll ended on 19 October 2016.
Yes. Mike Baird was wrong to impose a ban in the first place.
Yes. I don't support greyhound racing but a blanket ban is not the answer and would ruin lives.
No. This is party politics at its best. Grow a spine Mike Baird!
No. This is a sad day for animals all over the world.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.