THE NSW Government has no idea of the consequences unleashed by its contentious decision to ban greyhound racing, Lifeline Central West executive officer Alex Ferguson says.
He has grave concerns that lives could even be lost following the ban.
“I expect people to commit suicide from this, you’ve wrecked whole families,” he said.
Legislation to ban the sport now sits in the NSW lower house after it was fast-tracked through the upper house on Wednesday night.
And, this has sent shockwaves through the industry.
Generations of people have made a living from racing and loved their dogs in the process, and now the rug is about to be pulled from under them, Mr Ferguson said.
Not only will these families’ finances suffer, so will their emotions, he said.
The NSW Coalition announced its decision to ban racing from July, 2017 after a report from a Special Commission of Inquiry into the greyhound industry was handed down.
“Your family and livelihood has just gone down the gurgler with a swipe of a pen,” Mr Ferguson said.
Live-baiting and animal cruelty concerns aside, Mr Ferguson slammed the NSW Coalition for the way it announced the ban and introduced the legislation.
“Forget the right or wrong, or the cruelty [to animals], it’s the process that’s wrong,” he said.
“It was terminated by decree on very doubtful grounds and a report that is being questioned.
“Whether or not you agree with it, it was a legal industry.
“If you’re going to turn off an industry, you need to announce a support package at the same time.”
Bathurst Greyhound Racing Club track manager Jason Lyne told the Western Advocate this week he and the local industry had been left heartbroken and shattered by the proposed ban.
“I’m mentally drained and mentally exhausted, but I have to stay strong for all the participants,” he said on Thursday.
“We have only got hope, and not much hope.”
Mr Ferguson has pleaded with everyone involved in the industry to take their next steps slowly.
“Take a deep breath to steady yourself and then recognise there’s lots of people out there with the skills to help,” he said.
“There are people who will have a chat with you and walk through these issues with you.”
Lifeline Central West offers free financial counselling and also has crisis support workers available 24 hours a day.
- Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 for help in a crisis.