DAVID Leyonhjelm says the NSW government’s hasty ban on greyhound racing will only embolden the extreme animal rights movement which ultimately wants all animal use industries terminated, like live exports and livestock farming.
The NSW Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Senator remains hopeful of being re-elected for another term as vote counting continues from last weekend’s tight federal election.
He spoke to Fairfax Agricultural Media about the Baird government’s controversial decision this week to terminate the sport of greyhound racing on July 1 next year, due to concerns about ongoing animal cruelty practices like live baiting by dog trainers.
Senator Leyonhjelm said the ban was a further step forward in implementing the agenda of the extremist animal rights movement which wants to prevent the use of animals by humans, “under all circumstances”.
He said that extreme agenda would eventually include humans keeping pets, “but the movement is very devious and moves incrementally”.
Live animal exports, so-called puppy farms, "factory farms" and horse racing are its other priorities currently,’ he said.
“The NSW government's willingness to comply with the extremist agenda of the animal rights movement is very disappointing,” he said.
“As a former veterinary practitioner I have some knowledge of the greyhound industry.
“The vast majority of participants are honest, decent people who love their dogs and sport.
“The dogs themselves love to race and there is nothing cruel about euthanising dogs provided the method is humane - tens of thousands of pets are euthanised every year.
“The use of live lures is uncommon and can be easily prevented through law enforcement.”
Senator Leyonhjelm said the decision was also disappointing because of its collectivist approach.
He said rather than deal with a small number of individual greyhound industry participants who break the law, the government was punishing everyone.
“This is comparable to its collectivist approach to violence in Kings Cross, where its lockout laws are sending everyone home to bed early rather than deal with violent individuals,” he said.
“Such an approach has the potential to bite it on the backside.
“A small number of politicians rort their expenses and are currently dealt with individually.
“Applying a collectivist approach could result in all politicians being treated as corrupt.
“It would be difficult for the government to argue against that, given its collectivist policies generally.”
Senator Leyonhjelm said a genuinely liberal government would focus on individuals who behaved illegally or unethically, rather than “lump” everyone into a group and impose collective punishment.
“Unfortunately, liberal governments are increasingly rare,” he said.
Senator Leyonhjelm led a Senate inquiry into “nanny state” or government intrusions that deny individual freedoms through excessive regulations or interventions.
The NSW government’s ban has also sparked infighting with several Nationals MPs criticising the decision and asking it be reviewed, citing lack of proper consultation and fears about the sudden loss of 1000 jobs like country dog breeders.
Federal NSW Nationals MP Michael McCormack has also slammed the NSW Coalition government’s “hasty” decision to ban the greyhound racing industry which came after a special report found demining evidence of animal mistreatment but also made 80 recommendations for regulatory action.
Mr McCormack said there was no doubt the report was “damning” but rather than shutting down the entire industry, due to a “select few offenders” the NSW Government should have considered tougher regulations before revoking the sport’s “social license”.
He expressed concerns for the loss of economic activity and the employment and social benefits of country greyhound race-tracks in his Riverina electorate like at Temora and the interests of the majority of greyhound trainers who “treat their animals like members of their family”.
“Decisions made in haste are not good decisions,” he said.
“This decision is far too hasty and will send a shiver down the spine of anyone involved in the beef industry or growing and producing cattle for the live exports market.
“Which industry will they target next?
“Where does it start and where does it stop?
“Will they investigate the trots or shut down thoroughbred racing?”
“Little by little the minorities are winning and soon we’ll be left with a nation of do-gooders.”
RSPCA Australia has called for a nationwide ban on the sport but greyhound industry bodies are also seeking to overturn the NSW decision while tightening animal welfare measures and procedures, as racing continues in the interim.
Australian Livestock Exporters' Council CEO Alison Penfold spoke at the Farm Writers' Association of NSW yesterday saying the greyhound ban in NSW should send shockwaves throughout agriculture but stressed community “outrage” had to be dealt with, to maintain an industry’s social license and manage risk, not just the “technical fix”.
The NSW parliament’s MLC Mark Pearson of the Animal Justice Party – who also opposes live exports and livestock farming – said the Special Commission of Inquiry found overwhelming evidence of systemic animal cruelty, including mass greyhound killings and live baiting.
“This is one of the largest victories for animals in many, many years,” he said in congratulating and commending the NSW government for assessing the inquiry findings and listening to the community.
“This is a great outcome and I believe a huge thank you needs to be given to the animal activists that put their liberties and welfare on the line to expose the barbaric cruelty that was lurking below the surface of this industry,” he said.
“If it was not for the expose ‘Making A Killing’ aired on ABC Four Corners with undercover footage of live baiting there would not have been an inquiry.
“This is a testament to these activists and their work, work that has been likened to terrorism by some in the government.”
A preference deal between the AJP and federal Labor to expand plant-based food production at the recent federal election was criticised by farm groups due to concerns it boosted an extremist agenda to end live exports and other livestock industries, through a subversive campaign, driven by community outrage at animal cruelty.
The AJP ran 54 candidates at the recent poll, including 12 in the Senate and 42 lower house seats in NSW, SA and Victoria.
As of Saturday, the AJP had 1.1pc of the national Senate vote comprising; 0.82pc in NSW; 1.64pc in Victoria; 1.19pc in Queensland; 0.87pc in WA; 0.78pc in SA; 0.68pc in Tasmania; and 1.67pc in the ACT.
The AJP also had 0.67pc of the national primary vote for the Lower House compared to 0.45pc for the LDP, 0.54pc for Katter’s Australian Party and 1.86pc for the Nick Xenophon Team.