Illawarra Labor pollies urge Premier to ‘let the dogs develop’

NOT LYING DOWN: Labor candidate Paul Scully (left) joins MPs Ryan Park (Keira) and Anna Watson (Shellharbour) at the Dapto Dogs on Thursday night. Picture: Adam McLean

NOT LYING DOWN: Labor candidate Paul Scully (left) joins MPs Ryan Park (Keira) and Anna Watson (Shellharbour) at the Dapto Dogs on Thursday night. Picture: Adam McLean

Let It Develop.   

It was the name of the greyhound that won this week’s Dapto Megastar race and the mantra Premier Mike Baird should adopt for the industry, according to the Labor Party.

As pressure mounts on Mr Baird to overturn his government’s ban of the sport, which takes effect from July 1, Illawarra Labor members visited the Dapto Dogs on Thursday night to reinforce their opposition.

The party’s candidate for Wollongong’s November 12 byelection, Paul Scully, told the crowd the industry shutdown was “an elitist ban on a working class sport”.

“Mike Baird needs to get the message that it’s not good enough. We won’t cop it, we shouldn’t have to cop it,” Mr Scully said. 

All eyes are on the Orange byelection, to be held the same day as Wollongong’s – a seat where the National Party’s stronghold appears to be eroding.  

This week, Nationals backbencher Andrew Fraser warned in a letter to cabinet ministers that the greyhound racing ban had made the government “unelectable”.

In the letter to Mr Baird and Deputy Premier Troy Grant, copied to other cabinet members and leaked to the media, Mr Fraser, the MP for Coffs Harbour, said the decision “has completely reversed our political fortune”.

Mr Fraser suggested the Orange byelection “at this stage appears unwinnable and I believe that the greyhound legislation has been the catalyst which has put us in this position”. 

The Liberal Party isn’t contesting the Wollongong byelection and Mr Scully said a “strong vote for Labor” would keep the dogs going.

“We’ve got Mike Baird nervous, we need to make him more nervous and we can all do that on November 12,” he said. 

Keira MP Ryan Park’s message for Mr Baird was: “You come and take working class sport away from us, the working class will take the premiership away from you.”

In his letter, Mr Fraser proposed an alternative greyhound industry plan, which would “reduce the number of races, the number of dogs and the number of tracks”.

A spokesman for Mr Baird wouldn’t comment on the leaked letter, but said the government was awaiting the advice of the Greyhounds Transition Taskforce. 

The Premier told Parliament on Thursday the government remained 100 per cent committed to the ban.

- with Sean Nicholls

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