Why? SFP politician Robert Borsak one of the hunters wondering when they'll get access to NSW national parks.

New hunting rules kept secret

The rules that will govern hunters in NSW national parks are being developed in secret, and it is still not clear when hunting in the parks will commence.

“We are still working through the issues,” NSW Game Council CEO Brian Boyle said last week when questioned on the subject by a parliamentary committee.

Mr Boyle, who is on the steering committee dealing with hunting in national parks, said the decision-making process was cabinet-in-confidence, meaning no information is made public.

The NSW opposition’s environment spokesman, Luke Foley MLC, tried to draw Boyle on a number of topics, including whether national parks would be closed when hunting takes place and whether hunters would be supervised, but Boyle said he could not answer the questions.

Hunters still do not know what form hunting in NSW national parks will take when it is eventually permitted under legislation that recently passed through parliament.

Introduced by the Shooters and Fishers Party, the legislation is widely expected to result in a system similar to the Game Council’s conservation hunting program run in state forests and other public land.

The Game Council boss said the system would be “a fantastic model … which could easily apply to national parks” but added that no decision had been made about it by the steering committee.

However, previous statements by others, including Coalition Government ministers, have suggested that national parks would be closed when hunters are operating in them and that hunters would have be closely supervised by National Parks and Wildlife Service staff.

“Will national parks be closed when licensed hunters enter those parks?” Mr Foley asked.

“That decision has yet to be made,” Mr Boyle said. “I worked for 20 years in national parks before I worked with the Game Council. I worked in the Alpine National Park in Victoria, I was the ranger in charge of Lake Eildon National Park and I also worked in reserves in Tasmania and in New Zealand, where hunting goes on and is working effectively. I believe that system could easily work here in NSW.”

“Does the system you talk about in other jurisdictions involve national parks being closed to the public when licensed hunters enter the park?” Foley asked.

“In some parks in Victoria, but they shoot only about 600 goats under that program,” Boyle said. “In the parks and forests that are not closed they shoot about 35,000 deer a year. They are not closed; they are perfectly open.

“I used to be the ranger in charge of the Howqua Hills. I encourage you to go down there and camp. You will camp with people and see families who go there. The husband might go out hunting in the hills while mum and the kids play beside the river. It works, and it works safely.”

Mr Boyle also revealed a tri-state meeting was being held this week at which national parks staff from NSW could be briefed on hunting activities in Victorian and South Australian parks.

“It is to inform the [NSW] national parks staff on what happens elsewhere,” he said. “It is part of allaying their fears. There is a lot of apprehension because of lack of knowledge of what is going on. The more people become informed about hunting they will see – and if you read the institute statistics or the Council of Licensed Firearms Owners report from New Zealand on the Game Council website – hunting is a safe outdoor pursuit.”

Mr Boyle said it may be some months before the steering committee’s decisions are finalised.




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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.