NSW premier Mike Baird fractured vertebrae
New South Wales Premier Mike Baird speaks at a press conference after the siege at a Sydney cafe ended December 16, 2014. Reuters/Jason Reed

Mike Baird “got it wrong.” The New South Wales premier said he would back down on his promise to close the greyhound industry in the state, giving it “one final chance.”

On Tuesday, NSW cabinet ministers signed a plan to reverse the ban on greyhound racing, which the Baird government announced in July, angering trainers, owners and club owners. The ban would have been enforced from July 2017.

“In hindsight as we reflect on this, we got it wrong. I got it wrong. The cabinet got it wrong and the government got it wrong,” Baird said at a press conference announcing the reversal on Tuesday.

No more greyhound racing in NSW beginning July 2017

The planned ban was a result of the Special Commission of Inquiry report submitted to the premier. The report found that tens of thousands of greyhounds bred specifically for racing were put down in the past 12 years when they are deemed uncompetitive. Live animals were also used to train the still-active dogs.

NSW would have been the first state to ban greyhound racing. But now, apparently due to pressures from businesses and critics, the Baird government has relented and admitted that the ban was a mistake.

“Thousands of people have written to my office – the majority in support of the ban. However, the opposite is true for many of my colleagues. One regional member of the government told me last week that, when he returned to his hometown, people he has known for over 20 years were so angry about this that they were crossing the street to avoid him,” Baird posted his statement on Facebook.

Baird wanted to reconcile the supporters and critics of the ban, coming up with a compromise that gives the greyhound racing industry a second chance but with strict conditions.

“We are going to give the greyhound industry one final chance to reform. Let me be clear: There can be no return to the status quo. Live baiting must end. Cruel wastage must end. The industry must meet the highest animal welfare standards, or it will close.”

He gave former Labor premier Morris Iemma the task of checking up with the industry. Iemma will head a special reform panel to set thorough animal welfare and regulatory standards.

According to the ABC, the conditions and changes of the ban reversal will include breeding cap to 2,000, reduction of the number of tracks and race events, management of whole-of-life dog cycle, and $1,500 bond for every dog bred.