Dapto Dogs

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (10:33): The Dapto dogs are an icon of the Illawarra—in fact, not just of the Illawarra, because, wherever I go throughout New South Wales, Australia and even the world, when I people where I am from they go, 'Ah, the Dapto dogs.' There has been racing continuously in the Illawarra since 1937, but the New South Wales Premier is attempting to criminalise this sport. If he gets his way, the Dapto dogs will cease to operate in July next year. He says he has no choice. He says he is operating on the recommendations of the commissioner he appointed to investigate the sport. That is simply not true. If you look at the report, the report by former Justice Michael McHugh AC QC, you will see it provides the New South Wales government with not one but two courses of action.

The New South Wales Premier has pulled on the wrong rein. The report actually says there can be a future for the industry. It puts in place a strict set of recommendations, over 78 of them. Of course there is an alternative course of action, which would only be followed after a full-blown debate within the community and within the parliament. The New South Wales Premier has adopted none of these courses of action. As a result of that, over 1,080 people are facing the threat of losing full-time employment, as are another 500 people with equivalent employment in part-time positions. Over 13,000 people throughout the state of New South Wales who love and enjoy the sport of greyhound racing will lose that pleasure.

The principal objection that is raised against greyhound racing by the Premier is not doping or baiting, behaviours that are abhorred by everybody and that are currently criminal. The principle objection is the fact that in the sport of greyhound racing there are a large number of dogs which are euthanased every year. There is some debate about whether it is 5,000 or 6,000 pups each year which are euthanased. Whatever the number is, I think it is too high. It is almost as high as the number of dogs and cats that are euthanased by the RSPCA and local councils throughout New South Wales every year.

You cannot run around the country looking at things that you do not like and start banning them. You have to work with the people to ensure that you can address the problems that exist. I can tell you that the action of the New South Wales government, if not reversed, will not stop the sport of greyhound racing or any of the problems the Premier is concerned with. It will just move it interstate or underground. That is not a future that we can stand for and it is not a future for the people who love the Dapto dogs, whether they are from my electorate or the electorate of the member for Cunningham, who is with me in the chamber today.

This is something that has to be stopped, and I sincerely hope, Mr Deputy Speaker, that the statements that have been made by members of your party are followed through in New South Wales parliament. I have actually written to the Deputy Prime Minister and invited him to come to the next meeting of the Dapto dogs. I am sure he will be well received if we get the right result.