Two senior Nationals ministers are working to have premier Mike Baird’s greyhound racing ban reversed, arguing that the ban has adversely impacted the state government’s political fortunes. Senior party figures are reportedly even talking about the possibility of voting with Labor to overturn it.
In a leaked email, Skills Minister John Barilaro and Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair are understood to have made it clear to deputy premier Troy Grant they believe the racing ban should be reversed, declaring that the upcoming by-election in the usually safe Nationals seat of Orange appeared “unwinnable” at this stage. “I believe that the greyhound legislation has been the catalyst which put us in this position,” Mr Fraser wrote.
The Coffs Harbour MP has urged cabinet to adopt a reform plan being put forward by the greyhound industry which would reduce the number of races, dogs and tracks, as well as “ensure any person in the industry who wastes a dog inhumanely or live baits is subject to a very large fine, a jail term and a life ban”.
Baird’s ban on greyhound racing is vulnerable to a constitutional challenge because key elements of the industry operate across state borders, according to lawyers. This possibility could encourage federal MPs to pressure Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce to intervene in a court case being launched by the NSW Greyhound Breeders Owners and Trainers Association.