Just 10 days after The Greens voted in the Game and Feral Animal Control Amendment Bill, which ensured hunting would return to NSW state forests and be introduced into NSW national parks, it has criticised the O’Farrell Government’s gazetting of 358 forests to be opened to recreational shooting.
A media release from Green MP and firearms spokesperson, David Shoebridge, the man who threw his support behind the bill, says that the government has “rushed to reopen forests across NSW to amateur hunting without releasing any risk assessment that would satisfy public safety concerns”.
“This was always on the cards, but the haste with which it has been done is evidence of a government keen to appease the gun lobby in its own ranks and the Shooters party,” he said.
“What is becoming clearer by the day is that Premier O’Farrell is under just as much pressure from the pro-gun elements in his own Coalition, including Primary Industries Minister Hodgkinson, as he is from the minority Shooters MPs.
“The public can have little comfort that they will be protected from the dangers of unsupervised hunting if the government isn’t prepared to publicly release its risk assessment.”
In another backflip on policy, Mr Shoebridge also expressed concern for the welfare of timber harvesters, citing risk to them as a concern for the Forestry Corporation, which controls the NSW timber industry that The Greens have vehemently opposed.
“The directors of the newly formed Forestry Corporation have a duty to ensure they do not place their employees or members of the public at risk when they allow hunting in State Forests,” he said, ignoring historical evidence that shows no hunting incidents where forest workers were ever at risk since hunting started in state forests 10 years ago.
“It is impossible to see how that duty can be satisfied until they at least inform the public of the risks.
“This government must commit to holding off on any formal opening of hunting in State Forests until the public can be satisfied that the obvious risks of sending unarmed amateur hunters onto public land has been addressed.
“Amateur recreational hunting in State Forests over the last decade has failed to effectively manage a single pest species in a single forest so this is not about feral pest management.
“This is all about ideology and satisfying the pro-gun and pro-hunting minority in the government’s own ranks and beyond.
“We need effective and efficient plans for feral pest control in NSW, and instead we have a Minister once more pandering to the recreational hunters”, Mr Shoebridge said.