The New South Wales ANIMAL WELFARE DISCUSSION PAPER from the Department of Primary Industry (DPI) has come to my attention in the last week, curiously just before the consultation period ends.
Curiously DPI claim to seek ‘balanced stakeholder representation’ and the paper references ‘108 survey responses’ and ‘100 written submissions’ 1,114 total responses, yet there are no shooting or fishing groups represented on the consultation panel and I know of nobody in the fishing and shooting circles in which I move who was aware of this work.
The legislation would also appear to impact restaurants serving crustaceans and fish kept in tanks before consumption, yet that industry is also unrepresented.
All rather curious.
The definition of ’animal cruelty’ is the most significant problem with the document.
‘Any Act or omission resulting in an animal being ‘unreasonably or unnecessarily’ harmed.
Harmed includes being inflicted with pain, caused distress or caused physical or psychological suffering’
Beaten, kicked, drowned, wounded, pinioned, mutilated, maimed, abused, tormented, tortured, terrified, or infuriated
Over-loaded, over-worked, over driven, over ridden, or over-used
Exposed to excessive heat or extreme cold’.
It is a woke, animal rights activist, anthromorfic definition that seeks to attribute human emotion to animals. I
Frankly it sounds like something Tigger and a certain ‘Bear of Little Brain’ named Poo thought up over tea and tofu while catching sun stroke while lunching in a clearing in the woods.
All jokes aside, this is unfortunately not a dystopic children’s story.
THE PROPOSED DEFENCE
Page 17 of the discussion paper references a defence that the action caused ‘no unnecessary harm’.
I suggest that you discount this.
Many Magistrates cannot understand why hunter’s hunt. So, in that context, do you really want to be trying to argue to a Magistrate or Judge who has no experience of country pursuits that your activity did not cause ‘unnecessary harm’ when he or she is of the view that your involvement in the activity was unnecessary in the first place?
There is a reason why the drafters of this policy paper have incorporated this as a defence and not as an exemption from the definition.
IMPLICATIONS OF THIS REFORM
Firstly the ‘micro’ the impact upon you:
- You shall have been charged with a criminal offence related to animal cruelty, which has a stigma not unlike being a Peddo.
- Your firearms licence shall be suspended pending a possible ten-year ban
- Your firearms shall be seized and thrown in the back of a Police Paddy Wagon. You can expect to become thousands of dollars out of pocket with your defence.
- As with any significant criminal charge, it shall strain your relationships and potentially damage your health
Frankly it is the biggest existential threat shooters and fishermen have ever faced.
RECREATIONAL FISHING WOULD BE LARGELY BANNED
Now the Macro implications:
• Just fishing for fun would not be allowed, as it is ‘unnecessary’ unless the species is a pest such as redfin or European Carp.
• Fishing for Native Species could be permitted if numbers ever became problematic.
• Catch and release of any fish would be classed as abuse.
• Trout stocking would come under immediate attack, and then there would be a policy conflict between the animal rights movement between ‘animal rights activists and ‘conservationists’ over the fate of any self-sustaining introduced fish stock such as trout, with any fishing focussing upon eradication.
In NSW a hunter’s activities are subject to the activity being related to ‘vermin control’, unless one is shooting to fill a government quota related to Kangaroo, Duck, or similar.
While recreational shooters are not a singular, final solution to pest control, their contribution is significant, and within parameters, these activities could be ‘reasonable’ and ‘necessary’.
While recreational hunting, in the context of vermin control can therefore co-exist with the definition, I can see difficulties for the following areas:
• Long-range hunting as opposed to varminting- shooting at a substantially sized animal at long range, as opposed to varmint hunting. The rationale being that varmint hunting is, by virtue of the size of the target a hit or miss affair, and any high-power projectile hitting the target would result in an instantaneous or near-instantaneous death, this is not the case with so-called long-range hunting.
• Bowhunting, bow hunting generally kills by haemorrhage rather than shock, (unless using blunts on small game such as a rabbit). Bowhunting has already been banned on welfare grounds in the UK.
• Hunting with dogs would be illegal. Even if the dog did not engage the targeted animal with its teeth, it would be considered abused tormented tortured or terrified.
One unanticipated by-product of this definition would be that it would significantly empower animal rights activists with a means to disrupt hunting, and significantly to provide a means of overcoming the offence of disrupting hunts. It would also provide a powerful means for some elements in the NSW Police Force who are opposed to gun ownership to increase their activities against sportsmen.
For example, while on a lawful hunt in State Forest, an activist could claim that the discharge of a firearm has caused some other non-target species unreasonable and un-necessary trauma.
CODES OF CONDUCT
If this definition cannot be overcome, sportsmen operating within such a legislative framework would need to force a system of Codes of Conduct upon the political establishment, that is not unlike industry codes to be recognised by the legislation as a means of providing protection for those participating in the Sport.
However, having said that, there are more than enough shooters and fishermen in NSW to overcome this nonsense if we stand together.
Your MP is probably unaware of this, and of its implications. I spoke recently to a very senior former National Party MP, and upon seeing a draft of this article he commented ‘Bloody Hell I see what you mean’.
The consultation period is almost over. In any event, I suspect this may be a situation in which more can be achieved by ignoring the consultation panel completely and by complaining elsewhere, the reason for this being that I believe the process is fundamentally flawed, and it needs to be abandoned and consultations start afresh with much broader involvement.
I would suggest you write to your MP, and perhaps attach a copy of this article.
National Firearms Lawyer
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Simon Munslow is a lawyer who has a lifelong interest in shooting, having acquired his first firearm at the age of nine, and has had an active interest in firearms law since writing a thesis on the topic over thirty years ago at University.
Simon Munslow practices extensively in Firearms Law matters throughout Australia.
He is a regular contributor to the Australian Sporting Shooter magazine’s website on Firearms law matters, has published articles on firearms reviews and firearms law, and occasionally is asked to comment in the broader media on firearms matters.
This article is written for general information only and does not constitute advice.
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