A Victorian parliamentary committee report has recommended a full ban on duck hunting in the state, prompting one MP to label the tabled report “a load of steaming you know what”.
The Select Committee on Victoria’s Recreational Native Bird Hunting Arrangements report, released yesterday, makes eight key recommendations, the first of which is to “end the annual recreational native bird hunting season opening on all public and private land from 2024”.
Other recommendations in the report include: “That State Game Reserves used for duck hunting be converted into Outdoor Recreation Reserves to provide greater access to outdoor recreation for all Victorians, with appropriate investment in camping, boating, and related infrastructure.”
It also recommends “that the Victorian Government requires hunters participate in an Aboriginal cultural heritage awareness education program”.
More than 10,500 submissions were received by the committee, by far the largest number of submissions ever received by parliamentary inquiry in Victoria.
The committee’s recommendations are not unanimous, however. MPs from the Coalition and Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party (SFF) on the committee filed their own minority report disagreeing with the main report and urging that recreational duck hunting remain legal in Victoria.
SFF MP Jeff Bourman, who was part of the committee, described the main report as “a sham and a load of steaming you know what”, adding he thought “it was clearly written before the inquiry started”.
Liberal MP Evan Mulholland, who was also on the committee, echoed the sentiment and described the inquiry as a “stitch-up”.
Shooters Union president Graham Park said the committee’s report was not a surprise, and expressed concerns about what he considered an obvious bias in parts of it.
“I think anyone who expected a committee with members of the Animal Justice Party and the Greens on it to deliver a report saying duck hunting was fine and should continue was deluding themselves,” he said.
“The real test will be to see whether the Victorian Government accepts the recommendations, or does the right thing and sends the report straight to the shred-and-recycle bin where it belongs.”
The Victorian government, whose Premier Dan Andrews is on record as saying he regards duck hunting as a legitimate activity, has six months to formally respond to the report.
It considering its response, the government will likely be mindful that the Building Industry Group of trade unions in the state, including the Electrical Trades Union and the CFMEU, have promised to walk off jobsites should duck hunting be banned.
The union campaign, which reportedly has a fighting fund of $2 million, will be launched next week, targeting Labor MPs.
The inquiry’s eight recommendations are:
1. That the Victorian Government ends the annual recreational native bird hunting season opening on all public and private land from 2024.
2. That the Victorian Government retains existing exemptions to hunt and control native birds under the Authority to Control Wildlife framework to control bird populations impacting on agricultural and other land.
3. That Traditional Owner hunting rights are retained under existing legislation.
4. That State Game Reserves used for duck hunting be converted into Outdoor Recreation Reserves to provide greater access to outdoor recreation for all Victorians, with appropriate investment in camping, boating, and related infrastructure.
5. That the Victorian Government provides additional resources to the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action and Parks Victoria to better control non-native invasive species.
6. That the Victorian Government amends the Victorian wildlife framework to discontinue the use of lead shot for all types of bird hunting and undertakes further investigation into plastic pollution and other forms of wetland degradation as a result of hunting.
7. That the Victorian Government reviews the process to report damage or destruction of Aboriginal cultural heritage and introduces additional protections for these sites including appropriate signposting and a review of the current penalties for cultural destruction.
8. That the Victorian Government requires hunters participate in an Aboriginal cultural heritage awareness education program.
A copy of the full, 362-page report is available here.