NSW Labor leader Luke Foley made an iron clad promise to visit every greyhound track in the State before the March 2019 State Election.
The Opposition Leader made the promise at Potts Park on July 10 - just three days after Premier Mike Baird announced the Government’s intention to make ground racing illegal from July 1 next year.
Foley continues his trek this weekend - to Coonamble.
On Monday, he is assured a heroes welcome on the final day the club's Long Weekend carnival which was first conducted in the early ‘70s.
“The Coonamble Greyhound Carnival brings together all the good and honest people in the industry that shouldn’t be punished because of the acts of a few,” the Labor leader said.
“Events like the Coonamble Greyhound Carnival are marked on the local calendar as a boon for the economy. By wiping out the greyhound racing industry Mr Baird is wiping out these events from regional and rural NSW.”
The carnival attracts visitors from across Australia and pumps at least $1.6m into the local economy. State-wide greyhound racing generates at least $330 million annually to the NSW economy and provides jobs for over 10,000 people.
Racing commences on Friday afternoon with a twilight meeting and, when the dust settles, a night program of up to 15 races will be conducted.
On Saturday up to three meetings will be staged, with up to 40 races being decided.
The Saturday card is highlighted by the $10,000 to-the-winner Ladbrokes Maiden over 301m.
Sunday is rest day with attention turning to a barbecue – the day of NRL grand final – at the Coonamble Bowling Club.
Monday sees finals conducted from heats staged on Friday and Saturday. More than $100,000 in prizemoney is on offer over the weekend.
The carnival’s importance ranks alongside the town’s hugely popular Rodeo and Campdraft.
Only last week, a leaked document revealed that the number of dogs that will now require new homes is likely to be a staggering 19,000 – more than three times the number Premier Mike Baird and Nationals leader Troy Grant had been touting.
Labor maintains its opposition to the industry-wide ban and Mr Foley has vowed to overturn it if Labor wins Government in 2019.
Labor supports significant reform and restructuring that would provide a highly-regulated and monitored greyhound racing with the highest standards of animal welfare.
“There are people in Coonamble who earn their living maintaining the racing track, pouring drinks behind the bar or cleaning up once the race meet is over. They are amongst the people set to lose out under Mr Baird’s ban, along with the motel owners, restaurants and publicans who will do a roaring trade this weekend,” Mr Foley added.
“I vow to continue to fight for the industry’s survival and will overturn the ban if Labor is elected to government at the next state election.”