The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) is calling on the federal government to intervene to exclude shooting from world-heritage listed national parks and proposed additions.
NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said premier Barry O’Farrell’s decision to renege on his promise of a year ago to exclude recreational hunting from national parks will do little to control feral animals and puts at risk the lives of visitors and neighbours.
‘The fact that premier O’Farrell can say in one breath that they will exclude world heritage and in the other identify six world-heritage listed parks for shooting shows how ill-conceived his backflip is.’
Byron mayor Jan Barham has backed his comments, saying all the northern parks included in the change were significant ‘biodiversity areas residents had campaigned to protect for decades’.
Cr Barham said it was ‘far too risky’ allowing anyone with a gun licence to shoot in a reserve and bushwalkers and campers could be hurt or killed.
Mr Pugh suggested the premier may be unaware of the status of some of his own state’s national parks.
‘In the same statement announcing the 79 reserves proposed for shooting Mr O’Farrell said shooting of feral animals will not be permitted in any wilderness area or world heritage area,’ he said.
‘Yet his announcement includes the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage listed parks of Nightcap National Park, Richmond Range National Park (in part), Gibraltar Range National Park, Dorrigo National Park, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, and Barrington Tops National Park. Oxley Wild Rivers and Barrington Tops are also identified wildernesses.
‘The federal government needs to intervene to over-ride the state government’s announced intention to allow shooting in world-heritage properties.’
‘World Heritage is the jewel in the crown and should not be debased. Other national parks now being considered for addition to the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia properties should similarly be excluded,’ Mr Pugh said.
Meanwhile, North Coast based MLC Catherine Cusack has called for the removal of north coast national parks from the hit list, despite voting for the controversial law.
Ms Cusack told media that she was obligated to vote with the government in a hung Legislative Council and believed the hunting strategy to rid parks of feral animals could still work without the inclusion of the Richmond range, Nightcap and Dorrigo parks.
Amendments are to be debated in parliament in the next few months.
Cr Barham praised Ms Cusack for ‘having the guts to speak out’ on ‘something she understands is wrong’ because the new law ‘puts a risk protection of these assets so vital for the north coast in terms of tourism’.