NSW GREYHOUNDS BACKFLIP - DIRTY DEALS AND LIES
17th March 2017
Last year Dr John Keniry AM was given the task of guiding the NSW greyhound racing industry towards its closure following the announcement by former NSW Premier Mike Baird that the industry would be banned due to extensive animal cruelty. In his role as head of the newly created Greyhounds Transition Taskforce, Dr Keniry travelled extensively around the state to gather information and consult directly with industry and welfare groups to ensure a smooth transition.
The Daily Telegraph revealed this week that Dr Keniry wrote to Mike Baird on 9th September 2016 asking to resign as Taskforce coordinator general. They state that he urged the ex-premier to keep the industry alive. Humane Society International (HSI) Australia is somewhat perplexed by this news because HSI Director, Ms Verna Simpson sat in a meeting with Dr Keniry just two weeks after he sent his resignation letter and instead he spoke of his strong support for the ban.
The meeting with Dr Keniry and Micheil Brodie, the Executive Director of NSW Justice and Office of Racing, took place on 21st September 2016. Its objective was to discuss the best possible welfare outcomes for the greyhounds surrendered following the ban. Greyhound welfare groups were represented by Ms Gabrielle Openshaw as many had joined forces to help ensure the most streamlined transition, with the plan being to rehome as many greyhounds as possible.
“The meeting was very positive,” said Ms Simpson, Director of HSI. “We all discussed our opinions on the controversial ban and notably Dr Keniry openly disclosed that he strongly supported the ban based on the cruelty and wastage of healthy dogs that resulted from a corrupt industry. His views were so in line with ours that it was almost like he was taking my words right out of my mouth. Office of Racing Executive Director Micheil Brodie also attended and despite rumours of a possible backflip, we were reassured that government was still fully committed to ending racing in New South Wales.”
But just two weeks prior, Dr Keniry had reportedly outlined a very different story in his letter of resignation to the ex-premier, with such a strong and contradicting opinion that it could have ultimately played a major role in prompting Baird’s decision to reverse the ban that October. On 3rd October, The Daily Telegraph reported that he had been talked out of leaving, but at the time Dr Keniry denied his resignation completely and told the media it was “just another leak from a leaky government.”
Ms Openshaw adds that the lack of information released by the government during the transition process leaves the questions around Dr Keniry’s conflicting position on the ban unanswered.
“The NSW Transition Taskforce never reported their findings so the public can't question why Dr Keniry expressed these personal opinions and whether he had the right or authority to do so,” says Ms Openshaw. “When Baird announced the ban on greyhound racing, there was an unprecedented unity among rescue groups and animal welfare organisations - everyone wanted to help and support the rehoming effort. But sadly, Dr Keniry made almost no effort to meet with the volunteers who have been successfully negotiating rescue and rehoming with industry participants across NSW for years”
These conflicting stories remain a mystery. During the months following the ban there were numerous threats, even death threats made to the former NSW Deputy Premier Troy Grant and others, so did Keniry bear the brunt of similar bullying tactics attempting to push him to resign? With all the dirty dealings, lies and corruption that the industry is known for, the truth may never be revealed. But one thing is for sure – the animal welfare problems will never stop without keeping the ban in place.