Local greyhound trainers took their message from Gunnedah to Sydney on Tuesday, at a loud and emotional protest against the government’s decision to ban the sport.
Gunnedah Greyhound Racing Club president Geoff Rose lead the local contingent on the 10-hour round trip to the Fair Go Rally at Hyde Park, which coincide with the joint Liberal-National party room meeting considering the proposed ban.
While the mood was “pretty down” on the trip to Sydney, Mr Rose said the group’s spirits were lifted by the massive turnout and speeches from politicians such as NSW Labor leader Lukey Foley.
Mr Rose said they stood side-by-side with thousands of people from across the state, along with members of the Queenslands, Victoria and Canberra greyhound racing communities.
“We’re not trying to back the government into a corner, we just want to show them the decision was made on a false report,” Mr Rose said.
“The report offered 80 recommendations – they’ve taken the first one and ignored the other 79.
“If they go back and have a look, they’ll see we’ve already done 30 to 40 of the recommendations in the last 15 months.
“We are not frightened of reform. But we need the support of the government to make that happen.”
The government used its inquiry into the state’s greyhound racing industry to justify the ban – however, since it has been released a number of errors have been found in the report.
Last week, the greyhound industry launched a legal challenge in the NSW Supreme Court, seeking a declaration the report is invalid and of no legal consequence.
As emotions ran high at Hyde Park, the decision threatens to split the Coalition’s party room.
On Monday, Coalition MPs gathered for the first time since NSW Premier Mike Baird announced the industry would be closed from July next year.
Barwon MP Kevin Humphries is one of several National politicians to speak out against the ban, which he said would disproportionately effect regional communities.
Mr Humphries said he would not take a backwards step on the matter, even if it means voting against his party.
"Either way, I won't be supporting, whether that comes as crossing the floor or not," Mr Humphries said.
"This has come out of left field, no one saw this coming. So, I'll stand up for my community and in other communities for that matter, but the wider ramifications for the livestock industry in general is enormous.”
Mr Rose said the support from Mr Humphries was exactly what the industry was after.
“Even the Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has come out against it,” Mr Rose said.
“I want to sit down with [Tamworth MP] Kevin Anderson and [Northern Tablelands MP] Adam Marshall and talk to them about the impact this will have.
“We contribute $6.9 million to Gunnedah and Tamworth a year. How they can chuck that away without consulting the industry?”