POLITCS

Mike Baird Is Tipped To Backflip On The Greyhound Ban

It comes amid mounting pressure from colleagues.

10/10/2016 12:04 PM AEDT | Updated 10/10/2016 3:53 PM AEDT
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Fairfax
There is growing peculation Mike Baird will walk back parts of his greyhound racing ban on Tuesday.

Speculation is mounting NSW Premier Mike Baird is set to walk back his Greyhound racing ban, a week after he declared the his government had made an "absolute decision" the prohibition which is set to be enforced from July next year.

News Corp on Monday reported Baird, feeling the political fallout from disgruntled National MPs since he announced the ban in August, could announce changes as early as Tuesday morning.

In August NSW became the first state in Australia to ban greyhound racing, after an inquiry found overwhelming evidence of systemic animal cruelty in the industry. At the time Baird said the "widespread and systemic mistreatment of animals" could not be tolerated.

Comment has been sought from Baird's office.

9NEWS reported Baird will on Tuesday take legislation to overturn the Greyhound Racing Prohibition Act to a cabinet meeting, at the same time increasing penalties for animal cruelty.

The premier has been under significant political pressure over the past month to moderate the ban, with a recent Newspoll showing he had gone from one of the most popular state leaders in the country to one of the least in the space of 10 months.

Most of the public pressure has been on deputy premier and NSW Nationals leader Troy Grant, who was reportedly threatened with a leadership spill if changes weren't made to the ban, which Grant has reportedly denied. Grant is expected to face a party room meeting on Monday.

The Nationals are preparing to face a by-election on November 12 in the traditionally safe seat of Orange, where the party's candidate -- Scott Barrett -- has said he's open to alternatives to the ban.

"Greyhounds NSW wasn't doing a good job of running the industry and keeping the shonks out of it -- there's a group, the mums and the dads, and if they had control of the industry, they could take it forward," Barrett told the Central Western Daily last week.

"I suspect a number of Nationals MPs would support that and that's how you get results, by people in power pushing forward agendas."

Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, who is against the ban, last week told News Corp he spoke to Grant at length about the ban during a phone conversation.

Baird last week doubled down on the ban, declaring the date the industry will end next year -- July 1 -- "is locked in".

Grant is expected to take a report on compensation for the industry to the party room meeting on Monday, amid polling showing almost two-thirds of people in NSW and the ACT support the decision to ban greyhound racing.

Opposition leader Luke Foley has been capitalising on the ban's unpopularity in regional areas.

"This ban was always wrong on principle," Foley said on Monday morning.

"Because it engaged in the collective punishment of an entire group of our citizens when only a small number of them had done the wrong thing, and you can't bring that approach to bear in government control of any incidents.

LightRocket via Getty Images
New South Wales Premier Mike Baird is tipped to back down on his Greyhound racing ban on Tuesday.

"I hope there is a capitulation here forced on Mr Baird by his national party colleagues."

Greyhound breeders have told the ABC they have no knowledge of any potential reversal to the legislation.

"No government representative [have] been in contact with us whatsoever, we haven't heard anything," said Geoff Rose from the Greyhound Breeders and Trainers Association.

"The two people running the show, Baird and Grant, did not want to listen to us.

"But on the news today I'm hearing they're willing to negotiate and we're quite willing to do that, we've been talking about that for a long time."

Fairfax on Monday reported the state government is continuing several inquiries into explosive allegations of mass graves and corruption linked to the sport.

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters
An official inquiry found that "between 48,000 and 68,000 greyhounds - or at least half of all greyhounds bred to race - were killed over the past 12 years because they were deemed uncompetitive".

NSW Greens MP, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, urged Baird not to reverse the ban.

"If he goes back on this, he is set to lose all political credibility," she said in a statement.

"The greyhound racing industry will make all the promises in the world to reform, but we know nothing will change, like nothing has changed over the last decade."

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