With the big question about the risk assessment still to be answered, there has been some significant progress with the reformation of the original NSW Game Council.
The Shooters and Fishers Party today confirmed that Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson had authorised the DPI to re-establish the Game Unit as a single Department, with a direct reporting line to the Head of DPI (yet to be appointed following the retirement of the Director General, Dr Richard Sheldrake).
This follows the announcement that conservation hunting in state forests is likely to recommence in February 2014.
The SFP told Sporting Shooter that the minister has assured Robert Brown that the for Game Council unit’s budget would be reinstated, that all Approved Hunting Organisations will be re-appointed, and that arrangements with Extension Service Providers (training organisations) will also be continued.
Mr Brown said that he was relieved that the government had recognised the strength and quality of the organisation and their substantial contribution to the control of introduced species on public land.
“The infamous Dunn Report is a deeply flawed document, and its author, Steve Dunn, is now appearing before ICAC in relation to the ongoing corruption Inquiry into preferential treatment of commercial enterprises linked to Labor Party Ministers,” Mr Brown said.
“The Government should not have acted so rashly in adopting Dunn’s recommendations.
“Re-establishing the Game Unit within DPI and commencing the State Forest Conservation Hunting program by February is a step back in the right direction.”
Meanwhile, Australian Hunting Podcast’s Jason Selmes has shown that persistence pays off with his letters to the DPI earning responses from the department which reassured him of the future of the Game Council model and the reintroduction of conservation hunting in state forests.
The department’s chief of staff Tim Scott told Mr Selmes that the main functions of the Game Council, such as the regulation, enforcement, education, policy and licensing, would be transferred to the department, originally under Biosecurity NSW.
This changed slightly with the Minister instead electing to create an independent unit within the department similar to the former Game Council, which means there is total focus on hunting rather than it being diluted within another departmental branch.
However, there is still the caveat of the risk assessment that is underlining each public statement about the return of hunting on public lands.
“The NSW Government has suspended hunting in State Forests and on Crown Lands pending the transfer of functions to DPI and the outcome of the current risk assessment,” Mr Scott wrote in his letter to Mr Selmes.
“Once identified risks have been considered, it is the intention to restore feral animal hunting in State Forests as quickly as possible and where appropriate.”