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Greyhound Gun-For-Hire Compares Industry Ban To Spousal Abuse

"Look, if you found out one bloke was beating his wife, you wouldn't make it illegal to get married would you?"

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Kel Watt is a PR consultant hired by the greyhound racing industry to fight the NSW government's recent ban. He's a former Labor candidate and helped behind the scenes when Australia's live cattle export industry was shut down temporarily in 2011.

"What we're seeing now with the greyhound ban, is the same thing as the live cattle ban. That is, there was some footage caught by animal activists and then a total overreaction from government," Watt told BuzzFeed News.

Employed by Greyhounds ACT, Watt is one of the people responsible for getting different political groups on board to oppose the ban, including most importantly the Labor party. He sketched out another analogy for the government's decision.

"Look, if you found out one bloke was beating his wife, you wouldn't make it illegal to get married would you?"

"You make it criminal to beat your wife."

Watt has been busy bringing together different groups to oppose the ban after NSW Liberal premier Mike Baird announced a shutdown of the industry last week.

The premier responded after a special commission of inquiry found there was "widespread and systemic mistreatment" of racing dogs in the state. One of the headline figures was that up to 69,000 greyhounds had been killed in the last 12 years for being "too slow".

The ACT Labor chief minister Andrew Barr quickly followed suit, saying the sport would be outlawed in the territory and its one greyhound track shut down. The Queensland and Victorian governments (both Labor controlled) said greyhounds would continue to operate.

Baird's decision would lead to the loss of hundreds of jobs, many in rural areas. Within a day the NSW Labor opposition opposed the ban.

It was Watt who personally called federal Labor senator Sam Dastyari, who then threw federal support behind state Labor, calling for a senate inquiry into greyhound racing.

For a seemingly progressive party, the Labor opposition shocked some.

But former ALP president Warren Mundine (left) told BuzzFeed News it was exactly the kind of issue the party needed to stand firm on, saying its a classic "working class vs. inner city elites" issue.

Saeed Khan / AFP / Getty Images

"This is a great move by the Labor party. It’s getting back to their working class roots. If what Mike Baird says is true in regards to this being about animal welfare, why isn’t he saying other industries have problems," said Mundine.

"People are getting sick and tired that elected officials who do not even know who has been involved in the business, they don’t even know anyone in the working class, determining what we should do for sport, what we should enjoy and how we think."

It's not just Labor. The federal Nationals are against it (deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce spoke openly against the move yesterday), so are some NSW Nationals (it threatens to split the party's vote on the issue in the state parliament) and the ACT Liberal party says it will oppose the ban.

The Greyhound Breeders, Owners and Trainers Association has also employed the services of the Liberal-National aligned lobby firm, Barton Deakin, as revealed on the ABC's 7:30 program.

That's not all. The Australian and Daily Telegraph have editorialised against the ban and dedicated the whole week to picking holes in the special commission's report.

And the legal effort will be led by former solicitor-general David Bennett QC, with initial legal challenges being arranged in NSW and the ACT.

BuzzFeed News understands the previous reports of a $500,000 "fighting fund" to push back against the ban is well short of the actual figure, which runs into the millions.

Watt said the opposition has been cobbled together quickly, but their ultimate goal is to stretch this into a long, drawn out fight over several years.

He said the ban was an assault on rural Aussies and the working class.

“Inner city people love to go out to dinner and eat a lovely juicy steak. They don’t know where it’s come from and have no clue about what country people had to do to get them that steak," said Watt.

"They also love getting all dressed up and going to the races. They don’t know what is takes to get those beautiful, pretty thoroughbreds out there. The difference in this case? Inner city people don’t go to the greyhound track for a night out."

Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Mark Di Stefano at

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