Keith Wheeler’s Wheeler’s Wisdom | OPINION, October 17, 2016

As I stated in this column a couple of months ago, banning greyhound racing in NSW was an over-the-top reaction to the ABC and Animals Australia campaign.

There are obviously a few bad types in greyhound racing, as will be found in all sports that involve gambling, but there were already laws that could have been enforced to jail dog owners who were guilty of cruelty.

The decision to rescind the ban announced last week was the only sensible decision that any government could make.

I can understand Mike Baird’s zeal after he read the McHugh Report, which has since been shown to have been hastily written, and in some instances, to be based on doubtful data. 

However no leader, let alone a state premier, should ever make a decision based on emotion.

This issue was apparently not taken into the party room for discussion.

If it had been, members like Katrina Hodgkinson would have immediately sounded alarm bells.

Having made a grave error of judgement, Mike Baird did the right thing in rethinking his legislation.

It is too easy to mock a politician who changes his mind, as bumbling Luke Foley has been trying to do.

Yes, it is true that state Labor all along pointed to the policy mistake that Mike Baird was making, but I think the community should be thankful that we have a Premier who was able to put his own ego aside, and agree to listen to the community.

My contacts in the local greyhound industry say that at this stage they are very happy with the reversal, but still concerned about the detail.

Former Labor Premier Morris Iemma is regarded as a decent person to chair the new body.

He talks of having a long connection with greyhound racing, having grown up in Glebe, next to Wentworth Park.

He talks of his later life in Narwee, where kids earned pocket money walking track dogs before and after school.

Greyhound owners will be represented on this new body.

One of the concerns is the closing of tracks, but even before the ban there was a plan to close 19 non-TAB tracks, so this may not be a real issue.

I noted from the television news that the RSPCA is reluctant to join the new body.

Since they played a large part in the original ABC program, surely they would have wanted to be a part of the reforms.

As I pointed out in my previous article, the RSPCA these days is a suspect political body.

So how did a politician of Mike Baird’s calibre allow this to come about?

As Ray Hadley pointed out, Mike Baird is a “modern” Premier.

He likes to bypass the “traditional media”, using the likes of Facebook to take his message directly to his “new media” audience.

Unfortunately for Mike Baird, “likes” on Facebook aren’t necessarily from people who will support you at the ballot box.

Belatedly Mike Baird had dinner with Alan Jones!

He probably understands now that he talks to Animals Australia supporters on Facebook, but if he had listened to Alan Jones and his callers, he would have heard what ordinary people were saying.

Alan Jones’ and Ray Hadley’s listeners are more likely to vote for Mike Baird’s team than the Facebook crew, who, after all, could be from anywhere in the world.


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