Nationals MP calls three-year greyhound moratorium
A LOOMING statewide ban on greyhound racing is causing a rift in the New South Wales Government, with more Nationals MPs breaking ranks to call for a conscience vote.
Member for Cootamundra Katrina Hodgkinson has publicly requested a free vote, eliciting a rebuke from party leader Troy Grant who played down any chance of division among the Coalition parties.
Oxley MP Belinda Pavey, Barwon MP Kevin Humphries and Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis have all flagged their opposition to an outright ban.
Mr Gulaptis said a three-year moratorium to allow the industry to reform made more sense than a total dismantlement.
"The report clearly states that up to 20% of people aren't following the rules," he said.
"That means at least 80% of people, the clear majority, are doing the right thing.
"My perspective is that it's unfair for the majority to be penalised as a consequence of the actions of the minority."
Mr Gulaptis agreed animal cruelty should be snuffed out but said a reforms process was already underway when the government hastily announced a total ban would be effective from July next year.
"I don't believe they have been given a fair go," he said.
"All the industry wants is procedural fairness.
"They have undertaken significant reforms over the past 18 months since the Four Corners report aired, at the behest of the government essentially saying they needed to clean up their act.
"Some people have spent tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars to do that.
"It's unfortunate that before we can see the results of those reforms, a decision was made to ban it.
"It's unfair and it's un-Australian."
The heartland of Mr Gulaptis's electorate, Grafton, is a racing town.
Even now, the town is full of trainers and dogs after a week-long, state-wide suspension of all races was lifted early to allow the town's greyhound carnival to go ahead.
Mr Gulaptis said he would be at the track on Wednesday night to show his support.
"The dogs are a cultural part of our regional communities," he said.
"Everyone knows the dish-lickers here, we think of them fondly.
"And in most instances they look after their dogs even better than they look after themselves.
"For me this is not a political issue - it's a personal issue.
"It's not just the Nationals. I think all MPs need to put the people first.
"This started off as an animal welfare issue but, quite frankly, it has become a human welfare issue."
Lismore MP Thomas George has been asked to comment. -ARM NEWSDESK