GREYHOUND RACING racing enthusiasts might be waiting longer for a track in Queanbeyan than they were led to believe, if they get one at all.
The National Party Member for Monaro, John Barilaro, first leapt to the defence of the ACT greyhound racing fraternity in June 2017, just months out from the election of the forcibly-merged Palerang and Queanbeyan councils.
He said if the ACT closed the industry, it would open up an opportunity for Queanbeyan.
Reaction on social media was mixed – with supporters and detractors both voicing strong views. It was difficult to discern any electoral advantage in Mr Barilaro’s announcement, other than maybe shoring up his base and helping like-minded local election candidates.
Then Administrator, now Mayor, of Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council Tim Overall said he would help facilitate discussions about bringing greyhound racing to Queanbeyan, adding that an in-depth assessment would be needed.
In February 2018 Mr Barilaro said he was committed to have a training track available in Queanbeyan by the end of the financial year, with a full racing facility operating by the end of calendar 2018.
It seems he overlooked the need for any proposed facility to go through a development application process. And for any development valued at more than $20 million, the Joint Regional Planning Panel for southern NSW would have to make the determination.
That’s because the Coalition government backtracked on an earlier election pledge to end these undemocratic bodies that make major planning decisions beyond the reach of the communities affected by them.
In Public Forum responses on 28 February, QPRC staff confirmed that Mr Barilaro’s office had been in touch about the zoning of potential sites for a greyhound track.
Asked about the potential for delays in building any facility in Queanbeyan, Mr Barilaro is reported to have told the Queanbeyan Age on 3 March:
“Our goal is to give the Canberra Greyhound Racing Club a home on our side of the border by the end of the year, and if there are subsequent delays as a result of the development application process then we will deal with them as they come.
“At this stage, Greyhound Racing NSW has been in contact with the Canberra Greyhound Racing Club to discuss their move to Queanbeyan, and I am happy to provide any NSW government support possible.”
Should the Canberra Greyhound Racing Club succeed in its legal challenge to the ACT Government’s ban on greyhound racing then the club would appear to have no need for a race track in Queanbeyan.
And if not successful, they might just decide to stick with Goulburn, which has been mooted as an interim location. Mr Barilaro’s promise might very well come to nothing at all.