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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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