A local environment group aims to have the north coast exempted from a bill that would allow amateur hunters into national parks.
The last-ditch attempt by the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) follows the introduction of a bill into state parliament to move the staff, powers and responsibilities of the discredited Game Council across to the Department of Primary Industries (DPI).
Those fighting the protracted battle against hunting in the parks had a temporary reprieve when it was discovered last year that some of the office bearers of the Game Council, which has links to the Shooters and Fishers Party, were guilty of illegally shooting animals in national parks and on private property.
The Game Council has now been disbanded, but the investigation into the organisation did not see the policy torn up but rather replaced by the NSW government via the introduction of the Game and Feral Animal Control Amendment Bill. That bill essentially moves the Game Council’s role in registering and monitoring would-be shooters into the department.
NEFA is now calling on the state National Party members for Tweed, Ballina, Lismore and Clarence to stand up for the north coast by moving an amendment to exclude recreational shooting from national parks and reserves in their electorates.
‘Recreational shooting in national parks and state forests will soon be back on’, NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said.
‘Back in June 2012 all north coast members voted for the Shooters and Fishers’ Game and Feral Animal Control Amendment Act 2012, which allows recreational shooting in all north coast national parks and reserves, except those declared as wilderness or on the World Heritage List.
‘This made 107 national parks and reserves within their electorates available for recreational shooting at the discretion of the Environment Minister. Four of these, Nightcap, Yabbra, Richmond Range and Gibraltar Range National Parks, have been shortlisted for early introduction of recreational shooting.
‘While members around Sydney voted to exclude 48 specified reserves in their electorates, our representatives failed to identify a single reserve for exclusion.
‘These latest amendments give north coast members an opportunity to exclude recreational hunting from national parks simply by adding them to Schedule 3A ‘National park estate land that cannot be declared as public hunting land’.
‘Surely they could at least exclude recreational hunting from reserves in or near urban areas, those that are major tourist attractions and those of exceptional conservation value.
‘Leaving such reserves potentially available for shooting sends all the wrong messages, as shown by the recent shooting of a wallaby in Broken Head Nature Reserve, close to the day use area and caravan park.
‘As our elected representatives, Geoff Provest, Don Page, Thomas George and Chris Gulaptis need to stand up for their communities’ rights to enjoy national parks without risking being shot’, Mr Pugh said.