Mike Baird's Shine Is Looking Grey, Hounded Over Racing Ban

Premier Mike Baird is facing mounting pressure on a number of issues.

01/10/2016 6:53 AM AEST | Updated 01/10/2016 6:55 AM AEST
Mike Baird has been under increasing pressure over a number of issues in recent months.

NSW Premier Mike Baird woke up to the news on Thursday that he was one of the country's least popular Premiers, topping off what has been a tough few months for the man who in December held a 61 per cent approval rating.

His approval rating has slipped to 39 per cent, making him slightly more popular than embattled WA premier Colin Barnett, according to a Newspoll published in The Australian on Thursday, which uncovered dissatisfaction over the speedy implementation of the Premier's Greyhound racing ban.

Baird's rapid fall in popularity was a record for Newspoll, bad news for the premier who just last month slipped and broke his broke his back.

Now Baird is facing a mounting internal and external backlash on a number of issues -- both on land and at sea.

NSW Premier Mike Baird if facing increasing internal and external pressure over a number of policy decisions.


Despite the poll pointing to disenchantment over the ban in country areas, Baird is standing firm behind the 2017 shut down date for Greyhound Racing in NSW.

"The date has been locked in," he said on Thursday.

"That is firm. What we have asked John Keniry to do is make some recommendations in relation to the transition."

But the ban is unpopular among elements of coalition partners the National Party. Deputy Premier and NSW National's leader Troy Grant is feeling the brunt of it.

Grant has reportedly been threatened with a leadership spill if he doesn't push to reverse, or dramatically change, the government's 2017 greyhound racing ban ahead of a key by-election.

Grant however has previously denied being approached about changing his position, and kept firm when asked about backlash to the ban on Thursday.

"People are actually in favour of the ban, and the major part of the angst is the perception about the way the decision was made, and the perception that not enough consideration was given to other alternatives or options, rather than what is seen as a heavy handed decision," he told the ABC's AM program.

"The decision has been made on balance, on the best evidence available to us."

The reports of the threat to Grant -- carried in the ABC and The Australian on Wednesday -- come as Deputy Prime Minister and Federal National Party Leader Barnaby Joyce reportedly argued against the Greyhound Racing ban in a phone conversation with Grant.

The increased opposition to the ban among Nationals MPs is being partly attributed to fears it will harm the coalition's prospects in the November 12 by-election in the traditionally safe National's held seat of Orange.

In late August, several Nationals MPs broke ranks with the government to vote against the greyhound racing ban. Not enough to prevent it passing Parliament, but significant regardless.

Earlier, and fresh off the back of two recent polls showing greatly reduced support for the state government, the coalition appears to have suffered a backlash in local council elections.

The Premier had this awkward exchange with a greyhound trainer on September 20.

In some regional councils, the losses were attributed to a backlash against the greyhound ban, as well as the government's recent council amalgamations.

"I just think that the greyhound decision has not been accepted in many areas, and it's probably good that the local government election is out of the way. It's a cathartic mechanism to deal with it in some form," Joyce told the ABC's Insider's at the time.

Last week conservative talkshow host Alan Jones hit out at the premier, calling him "Kim Jong Baird" after the North Korean dictator, forcing the Premier's office to deny the government had secretly signed confidentiality agreements for an apartment complex at Sydney's Wentworth Park greyhound track.

The Baird Government is also facing pressure over its 2017 Greyhound racing ban, with a number of Nationals MPs against the move.


On Wednesday the NSW Premier copped it from his Queensland counterpart Annastacia Palaszczuk (incidentally now the premier with the highest satisfaction rating in the country) and his surfing buddy, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, over his refusal to deploy shark nets and drum lines in the north of the state.

Following the non-fatal shark attack on 17-year-old surfer Cooper Allan in Ballina on Monday, Palaszczuk offered to extend her state's nets to NSW, while Abbott questioned why there isn't a commercial shark fishery in the area.

"Frankly, if it's a choice between people and animals, I'm on the side of the people every time," Abbott said.

It has been reported five of the 11 attacks in northern NSW since January 2015 have occurred at Ballina beaches.

Baird has since announced an emergency meeting in Ballina to consider reducing the number of shark attacks in the area.


One controversial area of social policy where the government has had mixed success is with its lockout laws.

A recent Fairfax/ReachTel poll showed almost 60 per cent of NSW voters would support extending the 1.30am lockout and 3am last drinks in force in parts of the CBD to the rest of the state.

The state government was handed a review of the laws -- the Callinan report -- on September 13. The report said the laws could be watered down slightly.

Keeping the laws as they are has been supported by the Last Drinks Coalition, a group of paramedics, police officers, doctors and nurses.

Baird has told reporters the government would reserve its decision on the laws, amid staunch opposition over the past six months.

The government is expected to deliver its response to the report before the end of the year.


Not entirely. He still has time to recover.

Despite capitalising on his opposition to the Greyhound ban, Labor Leader Luke Foley loses out to Baird 24 per cent to 42 per cent, according to the Newspoll.

The pair won't face off again until the 2019 election.

NSW Politics is heating up

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