Hunting in NSW national parks has been further delayed after the state’s premier ordered a review of governance of the Game Council, which remains under a cloud over illegal hunting allegations.
Police are still investigating an incident in which a goat was allegedly shot in illegal circumstances. Game Council communications officer, Greg McFarland, was suspended over it, but no charges have been laid.
Though unresolved, the situation has enabled opponents of hunting to cast doubt over the Game Council’s governance, and the premier said an internal investigation had queried council procedures.
Controversy over the incident has only added to weight to calls to stop the implementation of hunting in national parks.
Hunting had already been delayed beyond its original starting date of today and now appears unlikely to go ahead before June, and probably even later as the review is not due to be completed until 31 May.
The Game Council has welcomed the review, saying in a statement it “looks forward to an outcome that further enhances its services and ability to meet its statutory obligations while ensuring ongoing public confidence in the regulatory process”.
The council also pointed out that the Game and Feral Animal Control Act, under which the council was formed and hunting on public land is permitted, was due for a review this year.
The Greens have seized the opportunity to re-launch their long-standing campaign against all hunting on public land, calling for hunting in state forests to be put on hold.
Shooters and Fishers Party MLC Robert Borsak said the fight to implement hunting in national parks was still one that hunters could win, despite the delays and controversies.
Legislation allowing it to go ahead has already been passed, leaving only the regulations governing the system to be finalised.
Mr Borsak called on hunters to continue to support the pro-hunting campaign.
The anti-hunting argument has relied primarily on misinformation and spin to support what is essentially an ideological position, with little evidence of balanced debate.
However, it has significant political weight, reinforcing the need for the hutning community to rally against it.