Opinion: Party’s over, now ensure the axe doesn’t fall

Greyhound participants across New South Wales breathed a sigh of relief earlier this week when the state government announced it would reverse a ban of the industry.

Owners and trainers were quick to say they would abide by all conditions imposed by a new overseeing body. 

They welcomed the move to harsher penalties for animal cruelty, agreed with the cap on breeding and appear to be compliant.

However, the real test will be when the regulations are actually enforced. Words are cheap but actions are what will determine the fate of the greyhound industry.

If the public finds out that live baiting has returned or dogs are being culled in large numbers, the groundswell of support that appeared since the government announced the ban in July will disappear.

It was the opinion of the wider public that forced the government to give the industry one more chance. People who had never been to a greyhound track didn’t like the way the government shut down the industry without giving it a chance to reform.

However, any future evidence of wrongdoing  would almost certainly see the industry encounter the same anger the government has faced in recent months.

Everyone should be hoping the industry can do the right thing. Its closure would have had widespread impacts, perhaps well beyond what the government had anticipated.

From the approximately 20,000 greyhounds that would have to be rehomed, to the industries that were supported by dog trainers and owners, it could have been an economic nightmare.

In Dubbo, the local club employs a number of people who maintain the track, work behind the bar and supports local bookkeepers. Then there are the pet food stores, veterinarians and other suppliers.

Of course there is still a cloud hanging over racing in the Central West with a plan to reduce the number of tracks.

If they go ahead with the plan, the eight tracks in the Central West will be reduced to two. Those in danger of closing would include Dubbo, Bathurst, Coonamble, Mudgee and Lithgow.

It would hurt towns to see tracks close, but it is better than losing the industry entirely. Unless everyone can comply, that threat may not disappear.

The entire industry has been celebrating. It now needs to turn its attention to ensuring strict compliance or the axe may still fall.