LOOKING BACK: NSW Premier Mike Baird speaks to the media in Sydney, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016. NSW Premier Mike Baird has performed an extraordinary backflip on his greyhound racing ban after yielding to sustained industry and media pressure, saying \
LOOKING BACK: NSW Premier Mike Baird speaks to the media in Sydney, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016. NSW Premier Mike Baird has performed an extraordinary backflip on his greyhound racing ban after yielding to sustained industry and media pressure, saying \"he got it wrong\". (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts) NO ARCHIVING DAN HIMBRECHTS

The biggest political backflips of 2016

FROM shark nets to the gay marriage plebiscite, there have been some spectacular backflips pulled off in the political arena this year.

Policy turnarounds with significant relevance to the Northern Rivers were big in the headlines locally and nationally.

We look back at some of the most notable government back-pedalling.

Shark nets

Arguably the most hotly debated topic on the North Coast, the roll-out of shark meshing on Ballina Shire beaches was among the biggest political turnarounds of 2016.

Ballina MP Tamara Smith spoke out against the decision the day the State Government - previously against shark meshing - called for the nets to be implemented in October.

A fortnight ago, the Department of Primary Industries implemented the nets at five beaches in Evans Head, Ballina and Lennox Head.

About a week ago, the first shark was caught in the nets since their installation.

There have been no reports of other marine life or sharks being killed in the nets.

A reader sent in this photo of a 'shark' netting NSW premier Mike Baird during a recent visit to Ballina.
A reader sent in this photo of a 'shark' netting NSW premier Mike Baird during a recent visit to Ballina. Contributed

 

Greyhound ban

Man's best friend was at the centre of policy turbulence with the Mike Baird Government's call to ban greyhound racing in NSW.

In July, the government moved to introduce plans to dismantle the industry by 2017 following the findings of an inquiry, conducted by former High Court judge Michael McHugh.

While many people rejoiced at the move, many others were angered by the decision including greyhound owners, punters and track owners.

The ban divided local MPs across the North Coast, with Lismore MP Thomas George in support of the ban and Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis against it.

Baird revisited his decision after pressure mounted within the government to reverse the ban.

 

Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis strongly opposed the greyhound ban.
Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis strongly opposed the greyhound ban.

 

The backpacker tax

Moving into the highlights of the Federal Government gymnastics now, starting with the backpacker tax.

The proposal aimed to tax working holidaymakers at 32.5%, enraging the Australian agricultural and tourism industries that led to the cabinet's decision to slash the proposed Backpacker Tax by almost a half to 19%.

A review led by Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker into the heavily-debated tax followed and found a revised proposed tax of 19% was more suitable.

But not all senate crossbenchers felt the same way, with Labor, independent senators Derryn Hinch and Jackie Lambie, as well as former One Nation senator Rod Cullerton, calling for a 13% tax. A deal was made with the Greens and eventually a 15% tax was passed.

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Same-sex marriage plebiscite

It intended to give all Australians a say on whether same-sex marriage should be legalised in Australia like our cousins from across the pond in New Zealand.

Met with a storm of resistance and from the Labor Party, the Federal Government dug its heels in and proceeded to attempt to push the legislation through the senate.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his cabinet were confident the legislation would pass with a planned plebiscite to be held in February.

But the plans were pulled after the controversial legislation was voted down.

Same-sex couples like Eben Venter and Gerard Dunlop of Lismore, are left in limbo as the Federal Government's same-sex marriage plebiscite fell flat.
Same-sex couples like Eben Venter and Gerard Dunlop of Lismore, are left in limbo as the Federal Government's same-sex marriage plebiscite fell flat. Mireille Merlet-Shaw


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