Are hunters losing the battle for NSW national parks?

Publicly, anti-hunting voices are getting the upper hand as they fight against new laws that will allow licensed hunters to operate in NSW national parks.

An unknown person in the Department of Environment leaked a draft risk assessment report on the implementation of the scheme, and the media is using its negative aspects to paint an increasingly dire picture hunting.

Fairfax media have again been at the forefront of the attack on hunting, running a series of articles based on controversial topics mentioned in the report, including children hunting, the use of sound moderators, and lock-outs of the public when hunting is occurring.

Sporting Shooter has not been able to get a copy of the report, but we believe that either only certain parts of it have been supplied to the media, or the media is complicit in not providing balanced reporting on the issues.

One story did quote from a Game Council assessment of sound moderators but failed to convey the report’s overwhelming support for their use and chose to run a quote about murders and assassinations — something the report dismissed as almost irrelevant.

The controversy over national park hunting is being further fuelled by continued claims by its opponents, including Greens, about the supposed ineffectiveness of “amateur” hunters, purported risks to the public and the belief that native animals will be the targets of hunters.

Media reports have rarely given these claims correct context or questioned their veracity. Importantly, they have not examined them in the context of whatever is included in the leaked risk assessment.

No details were made public about how and when hunters might be allowed to use sound moderators under the proposed system, leaving the public with a view of would-be assassins stalking national park picnic areas.

No figures have been quoted to indicate how safe 12-18 year olds have been while hunting of other public land in NSW since 2006.

Premier Barry O’Farrell asked that people wait until the final risk assessment has been made public before judging the scheme, but his plea has not been heard in the uproar caused by leaking and publication of selective information from the draft report.

He and Police Minister Michael Gallacher did not heed the advice to wait before dismissing any change to regulations governing the use of sound moderators.

The Labor opposition has even used the information to suggest police resources would be taken away from investigations into Sydney’s gang-related gun crime problem so that police could instead stop hunters from shooting at protesters who confront them.

In this environment, it is unlikely the final risk assessment will receive the balanced debate it should.

There is clearly some urgency required in getting the report out into the public, but at this stage there is no specific date set for its release.

If you like black comedy and want a laugh, read the diatribe on national park hunting by the Communist Party of Australia, which has joined the fray. Judging by this, if there’s ever a red under my bed, I needn’t worry because he wouldn’t be able to find his way out. The irony is, the author of the article is not much further off beam than most of the anti-hunting comment out there. – MM




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Mick Matheson

Mick grew up with guns and journalism, and has included both in his career. A life-long hunter, he has long-distant military experience and holds licence categories A, B and H. In the glory days of print media, he edited six national magazines in total, and has written about, photographed and filmed firearms and hunting for more than 15 years.