Rain failed to dampen the spirits of the 150 people who attended a rally outside state MP Thomas George’s office in Lismore at lunchtime yesterday to protest against the state government’s decision to allow recreational shooting in 96 per cent of northern rivers national parks, nature reserves and state conservation areas.
But instead of seeing it as an opportunity to meet with their constituents, local MPs declined offers to address the rally. A response by Thomas George to detailed questions was read out to the rally on behalf of all north coast National MPs.
Dailan Pugh from the North East Forest Alliance said that the response was written by ‘some staffer in Sydney’.
‘The local National Party MPs could not even be bothered responding to their constituents’ questions,’ he said.
Mr Pugh addressed the meeting, together with others including local conservationist Ruth Rosenhek, ecologist David Milledge, the Public Service Association’s (PSA) industrial officer Geo Papas, and state Greens environment spokesperson Cate Faehrmann.
He told the group, ‘It is outrageous that our local members, who voted to allow recreational shooting in out national parks and reserves, voted to have recreational shooting excluded from Sydney’s urban areas but made no effort to have it excluded from urban areas in their own electorates.
‘The Act allows for shooting in places like Arakwal National Park and Cape Byron State Conservation Area in the middle of the tourist mecca of Byron Bay.’
The MPs’ letter read in part, ‘Thank you for your interest in the implementation of the Game and Feral Animal Control Amendment Act 2012. The government has previously listed 79 national parks and reserves for consideration as areas where shooters may be able to take part in an extension of the feral animal eradication program.
‘As has been previously announced, the program will not be extended into World Heritage listed areas.
‘A decision has not been made as to where the current safe program of feral animal eradication will be extended in the state’s parks and reserves. Details of how the program will be implemented will be finalised in consultation with experts.’