Tomorrow is one of the biggest days on the Aussie hunting calendar, the opening of the Victorian duck season, and the Greens have been accused of misleading parliament about it.
Country Alliance says Greens MP Sue Pennicuik should apologise after telling Victorian parliament that the people of towns like Donald, in the state’s north, did not want duck hunters coming to town.
Mr Pennicuik made the statement while introducing a motion to have the 2013 season shut down; the motion was defeated in the upper house by 37 votes to three.
“A huge majority of Victorians … are opposed to duck shooting – consistently about 85 per cent of people in the polls,” Ms Pennicuik told parliament without indicating which polls she referred to; many polls do not reflect her assertion.
“We have a letter from the Donald Chamber of Commerce thanking the influx of duck shooters into the town,” Country Alliance chairman Russell Bate said.
“The letter, which is signed by the chamber’s secretary, makes it clear that the shooters are not only welcome, but provided a great boost for the local economy.”
Thousands of licensed hunters will be lined up along foreshores of Victoria’s forests, crown land, game reserves, private property and designated parks as the sun come up on Saturday, 16 March, waiting for the first sign of ducks.
And they’re in for a treat by the look of things, despite extremely dry weather throughout much of Victoria in the two months leading up to the big day.
While the dry spell has forced game birds to leave areas that have dried up, it has also reportedly concentrated duck populations on reliable wetlands and water courses.
“Duck numbers are the highest they’ve been in decades and hunters can expect to have another successful season,” Field and Game Australia CEO Rod Drew said.
Hunters can start shooting from 7.10am in the state’s eastern zone, then 10 minutes later in the central zone and at 7.30 in the west.
The season will run to 10 June with a daily bag limit of 10 ducks, including a maximum of two blue-winged shovelers. Full details are available on the DPI website.
The Coalition Against Duck Shooting (CADS) will be protesting throughout the season, especially on opening day, with a focus on Lake Cullen, and they claim they are “ready to defy new laws” aimed at keeping them away from hunters.
Protesters must stay at least 25 metres from the water under new regulations, but CADS had reportedly threatened to send in protesters posing as legal hunters, complete with shotguns and licences, which could confuse the issue.
It also raises questions about safety, given the sometimes heated confrontations between protesters and hunters, and the death threats made and criminal acts committed by protesters in recent years.
Ms Pennicuik claimed in parliament, “duck rescuers are very organised; they do not get involved in confrontations,” but this is not likely to make hunters feel an less uneasy.
She also said she opposed the 25m rule, and in a show of Greens hypocrisy dismissed its potential public safety benefits because “there have not been that many incidents”; the Greens have previously used isolated hunting accidents to argue hunting should be banned, but Ms Pennicuik made no mention of serious protester-related accidents such as a woman who was accidentally shot in the face after illegally entering the water in 2011.