Anti-hunting protesters say they will get firearms licences so they can avoid arrest or fines and disrupt shooting during the next Victorian duck season.
Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party MP Jeff Bourman has accused them of “falsifying a genuine reason on their applications for firearms and game licences”.
The Coalition Against Duck Shooting is planning to use on online meeting app tonight to give members detailed instructions about how to get a firearms licence, which would allow them to legally enter duck-hunting zones that would otherwise be off-limits to them.
Some protesters have already gained their licences and used them in previous seasons, leaving Game Management Authority officers seemingly powerless to stop them from disrupting hunting activities.
“The way to avoid getting booked is to obtain your own firearm and game licences,” the group wrote to its members.
“Some rescuers have already done this, but we need as many licenced [sic] rescuers as possible so we can help as many birds as possible.”
The protesters begin by obtaining a Victorian game hunting licence, then using it as a genuine reason for getting a firearms licence.
There are a number of questions over the legalities of this, including, for example, the fact that applicants for a game licence must declare they “intend to hunt the game species” nominated on their application.
Mr Bourman brought the matter before the Victorian Parliament, asking the state’s Police Minister what action would be taken.
“Is evading prosecution a genuine reason for having a firearms licence?” he asked.
“It’s clear their intention is to never hunt and never own a firearm, instead just use the licence to evade prosecution and make a laughing stock of our official processes.
“Will the Minister immediately initiate the process to weed out those who are getting a firearms licence under false pretences?”
The questions where taken on notice for the Police Minister.
A number of MPs laughed when Mr Bourman brought up the matter.
“Some Members found the matter amusing but it’s no laughing matter,” Bourman said. “I’d much prefer they view this as a serious misuse of our stringent licensing laws which requires immediate action.”
“Duck-hunting protesters evade prosecution by falsifying a genuine reason on their applications for firearms and game licences,” he said.