Premier Mike Baird has announced that Greyhound racing will cease in NSW on July 1, next year.

Baird announced the government’s decision in a post on his Facebook page.

Baird said, In response to widespread illegal and unconscionable activity, including the slaughtering of tens of thousands of dogs, I can today announce that NSW is putting an end to greyhound racing.

More than a year ago, we established a Special Commission of Inquiry into the greyhound industry after very disturbing reports emerged of cruelty to animals and other illegal activities.

We have now received the report of the Commission, conducted by former High Court Judge Michael McHugh, and the findings are damning. A link to the whole report is below, but some of the findings include:

• The mass killing of greyhounds. The report found, “In NSW in the last 12 years… somewhere between 48,891 and 68,448 dogs were killed because they were considered too slow to pay their way or were unsuitable for racing.” In the industry, they call this “wastage”. It’s not wastage: it is the unnecessary slaughtering of tens of thousands of healthy dogs.

• The widespread practice of “live baiting”. This is where live animals, like rabbits, are used as bait to be chased by dogs in training sessions. The report found that, even though this is already illegal and carries heavy penalties, “a trainer, who admitted to engaging in live baiting, testified that about 10-20% of trainers engaged in live baiting.”

• The systemic deception of the public concerning the numbers of deaths and injuries of dogs. It is estimated that 180 greyhounds per year sustain catastrophic injuries during races such as skull fractures or broken backs that result in their immediate death. But the commission found that “Greyhound Racing NSW had adopted a policy of deliberately misreporting the extent of injuries suffered by greyhounds at racetracks.”

• The industry is not capable, in the short or medium term, of reforming. The report found that “it appears unlikely that the issue of the large scale killing of healthy greyhounds by the industry can be addressed successfully in the future.” In fact, the report found that, “such is the culture of the industry and some of its leaders that it is no longer, if it ever was, entitled to the trust of the community.”

One of the issues we have had to wrestle with is the positive impact of the greyhound racing industry. There are over 1000 direct jobs in the industry and nearly 6000 registered owners of greyhounds. Dog racing can be an important part of the social fabric of regional towns. And, of course, having a punt on the dogs over a few beers is good fun for many people.

So, as Mr McHugh asked, do such benefits of the dog racing industry outweigh the shortcomings?

Based on this report, the Government believes they do not.

Greyhound racing has been banned in many countries and many states of the US and is legal in only eight countries around the world. NSW will be the first state in Australia to ban it.

Over the coming months, we will consult with the industry to help minimise the pain as best we can for the innocent industry participants as we work towards an orderly industry shutdown. We will develop a strategy to work with the RSPCA to manage the welfare of existing greyhounds. And the transition arrangement for Greyhound Racing NSW assets (like greyhound racing tracks) will ensure they are used for open public space, alternative sports facilities or other community use.

I feel much empathy for innocent trainers and those who will lose their job or hobby as a result of this. And I understand the disappointment of people who enjoy having a punt on the dogs. But we simply cannot and will not stand-by and allow the widespread and systemic mistreatment of animals.

You can read the full report here: