IN POLITICS, as in life, there is no birth without pain.
And NSW Premier Mike Baird’s bid to consign the state’s greyhound industry to the scrapheap in nine months’ time has proven a difficult labour.
Like a punter betting all his money on the first race, Mr Baird has gambled his political future on forcing the ban through.
He has repeatedly declared it a decision driven by morality, claiming the thousands of needless greyhound deaths a year have rendered the industry untenable.
A strategic backflip now would be a hit to his ever-waning credibility.
As such, the way he handles the coming weeks could be a litmus test for his leadership.
November’s Orange by-election will, in some ways, be a referendum on the Baird government’s credibility in regional NSW.
While successive polls have showed the proposed ban has the support of the majority of respondents, it most certainly doesn’t have the support of regional residents.
The ban is pitched squarely at inner-city types and Facebook mums, most of who have scant understanding of greyhound racing or working animals.
Polling in Orange reveals the once uber-safe seat could feasibly be lost by the Coalition.
A contingent of Wagga greyhound participants will help pile the pressure on the government by taking part in an anti-Nationals rally in Orange in the lead-up to the election.
It reinforces just how much damage Mr Baird’s decision is doing to the Nationals brand.
It seems patently absurd a conservative country party could entertain banning a working class sport with such a strong bush heritage, while the Labor Party wants to save it.
In the interests of natural justice, the greyhound industry should be given a chance to prove it can change.
It should be given time to formulate a plan that ensures the industry is a world leader in regulation and animal welfare, and still operates a viable sport.
Mr Baird has one chance at a face-saving retreat.
He can delay the sport’s ban until 2020 – the year after the next election – and let voters decide on the sport’s future.
That’s called democracy in action, Mr Baird, a concept you seem to have lost sight of.