RICHMOND Race Club will pin its hopes on a legal challenge or a change of government after legislation to ban greyhound racing in NSW passes the Legislative Assembly in the early hours of Wednesday.
A marathon debate in the Legislative Assembly over Tuesday night and Wednesday morning saw the legislation to ban the sport from June 30, 2017 pass, leaving many involved in the industry, including those at Richmond Race Club, contemplating their futures.
Labor’s Prue Car voted against the legislation, while the Liberal’s Kevin Conolly abstained and Dominic Perrottet voted to ban the industry.
Race club general manager Brad Adam said there was still hope a legal challenge might put a stop to the legislation, but said it would be unwise to not contemplate an end to racing.
“We are extremely disappointed the legislation has been passed,” he said.
“We are devastated that the realisation of the possible end of greyhound racing has now been set in stone.
“We're still optimistic that we have the best legal team in the country and if there are any possible challenges then we will explore them and pursue them as best we possibly can.”
Mr Adam is also on the steering committee of the NSW Greyhound Racing Industry Alliance.
The alliance has gone to the Supreme Court to challenge a report, prepared by former judge Michael McHugh, which the state government based its decision to ban the sport on.
Mr Adam said many aspects of the report were untrue or misleading.
In the meantime, Mr Adam said the club had to face the sobering reality that the sport could end.
He said the club would seriously consider options to either stay open or temporarily close, in the hope that at the next state government elections, the Labor Party, which has opposed the ban, would overturn the decision.
“The Labor leader [Luke Foley] said if we can get that far, he will reinstate greyhound racing and the industry will hold him to that,” he said.
“But that is a good three years away and we need to be mindful of that.
“If that gates were to close in the short term, we need to keep the facility in the best shape it can.”
Mr Adam said the club today spoke to staff at the club to inform them of what had happened so far.
“There is a very sombre feeling around the track,” he said.
“I suppose it is the realistion to the participants and employees that this ridiculous decision to ban it has actually gone through.
“We have a family of 30 employees, five full timers and 25 casuals and as a club we need to look after those people and the 150 members we have.”
The Richmond Race Club is in the state seat of Londonderry, and Labor Member Prue Car told the assembly she was compelled to oppose the bill.
“This decision of the Premier, which was announced in a Facebook post, to completely shut down the greyhound industry is unfair, economically disastrous and downright wrong,” she said.
“In what world is it the Government's role to hurt an entire industry because of the actions of a small minority?
“In what world is it appropriate for us to legislate the death of an industry, and with that end the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of people across this State, without even giving them a chance to fix it?”
Member for Riverstone Kevin Conolly abstained from the vote.
“Near my electorate, actually in the seat of Londonderry, is the track at Richmond, which is a significant hub in that community,” he said.
“I am convinced that the vast majority of people within the electorate of Riverstone and across western Sydney are decent, law-abiding people who are not in any way responsible for the incidents of cruelty to animals identified in the McHugh report.
“I cannot stand by and see all these people tarred with the same brush because some in their industry have done the wrong thing.”
Member for Hawkesbury Dominic Perrottet did not speak on the bill but voted with the government.