Off the Tracks: A Liberal Dissent


Words || Jonathan Walker

In early August, I wrote in emphatic defence of the NSW Government’s decision to ban Greyhound Racing throughout the State, opposed by the President of MQU Labor. I spoke as a Liberal, proud of a government planning for and achieving prosperity and propriety on behalf of the people of NSW. I speak now as a Liberal, proud still of the executions of this government as a prodigious $5.5 billion surplus pushes the State into a cash-positive position for the first time in our history.

But as the Premier delivered the news that he would no longer be pursuing an end to the Greyhound Racing Industry, I could not escape a smack of despair. In his statement, released via Facebook, Mike Baird described vocal and widespread indignation, and the backlash he and his colleagues have received. Mr Baird proceeded to frame the reversal as a response to the public desire to allay a ban and give the owners and trainers one final chance to redeem their trade.

“The stench of slimy politicking is abounding, and NSW Labor should be thick with glee at the success of their political gamesmanship – and it is gamesmanship.”

This about-face is a grievous mistake – not least for my own sake in avoiding personal embarrassment. The reprisal of this abusive, depraved industry will not, I sense, be forthcoming. Now, rather, my description of a righteous and convicted government seems to fall awry and my lofty praise for this administration on this moral case feels misplaced.

But do I believe the Premier’s reasons for the change? Yes, I do. Does anybody else? Of course not. People hate politicians for being feckless liars and opportunists, and worse than a bad decision, they hate a backflip on policy. If the Government had simply lowered its head and weathered the storm, acceptance of the ban would soon be forthcoming.

Instead, the stench of slimy politicking is abounding, and NSW Labor should be thick with glee at the success of their political gamesmanship – and it is gamesmanship. The NSW Labor Party could hardly have been quicker to abandon their bedfellows on the political Left to engage in conniving, mephitic populism. Mike Baird himself already suffers, wrongly, from an image problem in lamentation of the construction of a new casino in Barangaroo and amalgamations of local councils across Sydney. This heinous mischaracterisation will only be expounded further by this indiscretion.

Far more important than petty politics, however, the Baird Government has significantly depreciated the value of the moral case against Greyhound Racing. Insurances of accountability and stringent regulation feel far less like compromise and far more like concession. The news regarding the formation of a panel headed by former Labor Premier Morris Iemma to oversee the industry in its supposed reformation over the coming years will either fall on deaf ears or be shrouded by the self-righteous shrieking of the Greens as this odd-couple alliance against animal cruelty crumbles.

As a Liberal, I support this government which continues to produce outstanding outcomes for this State. However, I do not toe a line for anyone, and I must admit to the faults in my compatriots. Here, we got it wrong.

Find out information about adopting Greyhounds at