Once the darling of Australian politics, New South Wales (NSW) Liberal Party premier Mike Baird may have finally fallen from grace. The latest Newspoll indicates that voters are sick of his contemptuous approach. As the Australian reports: ‘After ranking as the most popular political leader in the country in December, Mr Baird has seen his approval ratings collapse into negative territory and the coalition’s election-winning, two-party-preferred lead of 56 per cent to 44 shrink to a 51-49 per cent lead over Labor.’
Baird’s impromptu ban on greyhound racing — a move that could cost up to 10,000 jobs — is undoubtedly a catalyst for these results. The same Newspoll found only 41 per cent of NSW voters support the ban, while 51 per cent think the industry should have been given a second chance. Opposition to the ban is particularly strong outside of Sydney, with 61 per cent of voters in the rest of the state supporting a second chance.
But Baird’s attack on the greyhound industry is not an isolated incident. It is the same clumsy, paternalistic approach that has characterised his government.
The most obvious examples of this approach are the Sydney lockout laws. This set of policies targeted nightlife venues in the designated ‘Sydney CBD entertainment precinct’ (which conveniently exempted the Star City casino) in an attempt to combat the moral panic over ‘alcohol-fuelled violence’. The main restriction enacted by the laws is a 1.30am lockout for licensed premises and forced closure at 3am. The laws also ban takeaway-alcohol sales after 10pm and have frozen new liquor licenses.
Although enacted when he was treasurer, Baird has consistently defended these laws since taking office two months after they were introduced, and he quickly enacted a subsequent law banning shots after midnight and limiting the number of drinks individuals can buy at specific times.