Monday, 15 April 2013

Is Elmer Fudd or the Game Council fit to administer hunting in National Parks or the shooting of ducks?

Elmer "O'Farrell" Fudd
In a real embarrassment to Mr O'Farrell and the NSW Government two Game Council representatives have been arrested for  alleged illegal hunting activity.

Having the Game Council controlling hunting in national parks, to coin a phrase, is having "Dracula in charge of the blood bank".  It seems our Game Council Draculas'  stand accused of helping themselves to the supplies.

The two Game Council representatives – an executive and a volunteer – are alleged to have committed offences including entry onto land without permission, hunting without permission, firing a firearm onto inclosed lands and possessing a prohibited weapon in a nature reserve. The matter is scheduled for Cobar Local Court on May 16. Labor's Shadow Environment Minister, Luke Foley MLC said this should kill off the O'Farrell Government's plans to allow hunting in NSW national parks once and for all. 

The Game Council has a legitimate role representing recreational hunters – but it should never have any oversight role in the State's national parks. 

"Our national parks exist to protect our native plants and animals. They allow members of the public to engage in quiet contemplation and enjoyment of nature. They are not places for amateur hunters"; Luke Foley said.

Last year Mr O'Farrell announced 79 national parks and reserves would be opened to amateur hunting of feral animals – flouting his own Department's risk assessment which warned of a high risk of humans being injured or killed. This week, a Nielsen poll found overwhelming public opposition to hunting in national parks.

Why wouldn't the public be so opposed to the O'Farrell Liberal government stupid decision. Not only did they allow hunting in national parks, they also passed laws to permit duck hunting, something that was banned in 1987. It is the "Elmer Fudds" dictating the governments agenda, as they are let loose to roam free with their loaded firearms. Barry is no Wyatt Earp.

Below is what I told parliament on the 22 November 2012 about allowing the Game Council to administer duck shooting.

Mr RON HOENIG (Heffron) [2.10 p.m.]: The Opposition is opposed to this poor piece of legislation. The Game and Feral Animal Control Further Amendment Bill 2012 was prepared by the Executive government not because of an analysis of duck shooting or any failure in legislation. It is not designed to protect bird species. It is part of a grubby deal negotiated by two members of the upper House to ensure the sale of the ports assets. Whenever public policy is based on a grubby deal and not intellect, it takes this State back to Neanderthal times, to before the intervention of the 1980s when the Elmer Fudds could run around public landholdings shooting anything in sight.

Mr Nathan Rees: Barry's Bronze Age.

Mr RON HOENIG: Indeed. I remind the House that in 1987 the then Minister for Local Government, the Hon. Janice Crosio, wanted open duck hunting banned. The member for Ku-ring-gai was opposed to it. It was a time when hunters ran around with their popguns and their shotguns, shooting anything that flew. An examination undertaken to gauge the impact upon bird species found that the recreational shooting of ducks in Australia caused suffering to countless numbers of native water birds. It found that birds suffer pain and stress when they are wounded by shotgun pellets. Computer simulation estimates and the observations of rescuers on the wetlands indicated that duck shooters wounded at least as many birds as they killed outright.

In 1987, at the instigation of the then Minister for Local Government and the then Minister for Planning and Environment, the Hon. Bob Carr, the New South Wales Animal Welfare Advisory Council inquired into duck and quail hunting practices in New South Wales. The report, completed in 1988, concluded, first, that the cessation of sports hunting would not have significant economic consequences; and, secondly, that the level of suffering and pain caused through cruelty was unreasonably high. As a result, open season on duck hunting was banned—and duck hunting was effectively banned completely.

This had an impact on rice farmers and a regime was put in place that enabled owners to protect their crops by hunting ducks on private property. A two-stage process was put in place: The Game Council provided approval for the shooting and the Department of Environment assessed whether it was appropriate and whether the shooters could tell a duck from other wildlife. This bill gives control to the Game Council, which is a retrograde step for the protection of the environment. A retrograde step for the environment should not be compounded by the environmental destruction that is about to occur for those who live around Botany Bay and which caused this legislation to be brought to the House in the first place.

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