Amendments to the Game and Feral Animal Control Act that weretabled in NSW Parliament this week have been described as a failure by theO’Farrell Government to “deliver on its promise to properly protect NationalParks from unsupervised amateur hunting”.
It was a typical response from NSW Greens anti-gun agitatorDavid Shoebridge MP who said: “The Premier promised that under his newscheme the protections for the public would be the strongest in the country,but this bill fails to deliver that.
“With this bill there is no requirement that amateurhunters on any public land be professionally supervised.
“The newly created advisory board risks repeating thepast failures of the Game Council by being dominated by hunters and excludinganimal welfare and firearms safety experts.
“The bill continues a legislative scheme that promoteshunting of deer and native water birds, all it has done is put the Departmentof Primary Industries in charge rather than the Game Council.”
Shooters and Fishers MLC Robert Brown said: “As usual, TheGreens are complaining that their anti-hunting agenda will not be fulfilled bythe amended Act, but they have consistently failed to do anything more thanvilify law-abiding hunters at the expense of their own credibility.”
He said the bill signified another step closer for huntersin NSW to being allowed back onto public land, but the O’Farrell Governmentstill cannot say when it’ll happen and Mr Brown is calling for immediate action.
“It is incumbent on Primary Industries Minister KatrinaHodgkinson to ensure there are no further delays that keep hunters from voluntarilyculling feral animals from our forests,” he said.
“Licensed hunters expect these amendments to passquickly through Parliament so they can get back to designated State Forests tohelp control pests and put free-range game meat on their tables.
“They had an excellent record of safety and successduring seven years under the former Game Council, and they expect that theregulations will allow exactly the same conditions of access they enjoyedbefore Premier O’Farrell arbitrarily and unnecessarily halted their activities.
“The Minister must re-establish the operations into asingle Game Management Unit, not allow the Department of Primary Industries todisperse the old GC staff into the maw of the massive Department.
“If the licensees can see that the Minister intends tocontinue the excellent service offered to Game Licence holders, then I’mconfident the hunters will get back to doing what they do best – hunting,”Mr Brown said.
“Can they trust Mr O’Farrell to ensure this willhappen?”
The amendments confirm that a Game and Pest ManagementAdvisory Board will take over many of the former Game Council’s roles. Theeight-member board will:
* represent the interests of licensed game hunters
* advise the Minister on game and feral animal control,expenditure of funds, and education.
Board members will have expertise, skill or knowledge in theareas of pest management, wildlife, veterinary science, hunting, education andcommunity engagement.
Other Game Council responsibilities will be transferred tothe DPI, including licensing, enforcement and regulatory functions.
All hunting licences issued by the Game Council will remainvalid under the new system.
A Game and Pest Management Trust Fund will be establishedthat can only be used to cover research, enforcement and the costs of the newGame and Pest Management Advisory Board.
There are no surprises for hunters hidden in theseamendments, but the Shooters and Fishers Party will closely scrutinise thefuture regulations proposed by the DPI.
“There is no indication in the amendments that huntingin National Parks will be anything like it will be in State Forests, and we’revery disappointed by Mr O’Farrell’s betrayal of hunters in this matter,”Mr Brown said.
Meanwhile Mr Shoebridge said: “While the abolition ofthe failed Game Council is a real positive, it should not just be replaced witha government department that is given the same pro-hunter agenda.
“This legislation retains the concept of ‘game animals’and the ongoing promotion of amateur hunting, despite the fact that thisunnecessarily diverts attention from professional and effective methods offeral animal control.
“The community in NSW has made it known that it opposesunsupervised amateur hunting in our State Forests and National Parks but itseems the Government has still not gotten the memo.
“The abolition of the Game Council remains a positivestep by this government, and an achievement that the community should be proudof. Now is the time to build on that achievement not back away from it.”