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Byron Shire
March 6, 2021

North coast MPs ‘fail to protect local parks from hunting’

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Forest-protection campaigners have slammed north coast MPs for failing to propose any local national parks or reserves for exclusion from any future trial which could potentially make them available for recreational hunting.

Last week, the government announced a three-year trial for amateur hunting in 12 mostly western NSW national parks.

The announcement was a watered-down version of the government’s original proposal, struck after a deal with the Fishers and Shooters Party, which fell into disarray after key members of the Game Council that was to oversee the issuing of licences were charged with illegal hunting.

The Game Council was subsequently stripped of its powers and the parks being used as part of the new trial are near Griffith, Cobar, Balranald, Dubbo, Bourke and Albury.

Parks on the original list included Goonengerry National Park and Nightcap National Park in the northern rivers.

The issue has sparked a war of words between Ballina MP Don Page and North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) spokesperson Dailan Pugh.

In a media release timed to coincide with the announcement, Mr Page accused the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) of ‘running a scare campaign for over a year claiming that shooters would be allowed into national parks in the Ballina Electorate’.

‘This was never going to be the case but they refused to listen.  Now it has been confirmed with the announcement of the trial locations,’ Mr Page said.

But NEFA’s Dailan Pugh hit back, saying that north coast National Party MPs failed to move amendments to exclude recreational hunting from national parks when given the opportunity to do so with the passage of the Game and Feral Animal Control Amendment Bill 2013 last month.

As such, Mr Pugh says, ‘the failure of north coast MPs to put forward any national parks or reserves for exclusion has left them all potentially available for recreational hunting according to political whims.’

‘Regrettably Don Page, Thomas George, Geoff Provest, and Christopher Gulaptis again refused to take this latest opportunity to exclude recreational hunting from any of the 107 far north coast reserves where it is currently allowed at the discretion of the Environment Minister,’ he said.

‘It is outrageous that Don Page is now accusing NEFA of running a misinformation and scare campaign because we have opposed recreational hunting in national parks and repeatedly called on him to specifically exclude reserves in his electorate.

‘The Shooters and Fishers Party have made it clear that they want all 750 reserves in NSW where hunting is potentially allowed made available for unsupervised recreational hunting. The next time the government wants their votes it will all be on again because Don Page refused to stand up for our parks.

‘It is worrying that Don Page’s attacks on NEFA display either a profound lack of understanding of the legislation he voted for, or an intent to mislead his electorate on this issue’, Mr Pugh said.

Mr Page said ‘all of the parks, reserves and conservation areas included in the trial already have existing programs to reduce pest animals’.

‘The North East Forest Alliance should be supporting this program to protect our native flora and fauna instead of deliberately spreading misinformation for political gain,’ he said.

The trial, he said, would ‘utilise the expertise, skill and commitment of volunteers who have an equivalent skill and accreditation level to professional staff, under the supervision of the NPWS.

‘All relevant areas within parks will be closed to other users on the specific days that planned shooting operations are underway.  No person under 18 will be allowed to participate in the program and only firearm types that are currently used in NPWS operations will be permitted,’ Mr Page dded.

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  1. We can be proud of the “calibre” of these public officials.
    Why have National Parks that are safe islands in a sea of violent abuse and gun crime, when we can bring in the big guns and finish the job on these annoying Endangered Species that create all of this “Green Tape”.
    With no more “Green Tape” and no more Endangered Species it’ll be safe for idiots to go blasting the hell out of what ever they like !

  2. I simply cannot understand why people here supported the Nationals in the last election, knowing they would not really support rural Australia, were happy to green light coal seam gas exploration, allow shooters in national parks and forego funding that targeted rural infrastructure upgrades.

    But that’s what this electorate voted for and that’s what they are going to get. Too late to cry foul now.
    Seems the region has not learnt how to really support their local community, their lifestyle and the natural bounty of their surroundings. Obviously too many continue to listen to and believe the city shock-jocks, and read the Murdoch press.

  3. Not good for Don’s street cred this one. Allowing shooting at any time in national parks is a totally bad move. It can inevitable only lead to accidents, then we’ll see the pollies all run for cover.

  4. My concern with all this is still the training and accreditation regimes, or lack of. Back in the day when dad used to milk a few cows, while not a hunter himself he had no problem with others having a go at the odd rabbit, fox or duck until someone shot one of his cows, no more shooting. He decided on the ban not because a cow had been shot, bad enough, but when the bloke was challenged he claimed he thought it was a duck and dad realised he was fairdinkum. In the excitement, the half light of picaniny dawn and blood rush the bloke had genuinely mistaken the cow for a bloody duck, he shot the cow, twice.

    On public land this is a job for trained professionals not compensating weekend warriors.

  5. I’ve yet to find a soul who voluntary admits (confesses) to having elected this frighteningly and deplorably irresponsible government. How on earth did they get a majority?

    I don’t believe it’s ever too late to cry foul, though. Lets call a spade a spade. This government, in its blatant self-serving, has created dangerous situations pandering to those who would place their own recreational desires above their county folks’ wellbeing. Foul, by any other name, remains foul. This is utterly shameful, and one can only hope that no innocent person or creature loses its life due to their greed. Hideous!

  6. Can you just imagine,

    Another beautiful day out with your children, perhaps in company with your grandchildren visiting our beautiful National Parks. Trees, wildlife, fresh air, the quietness sometimes interrupted by the wind rushing through the trees. A most enjoyable experience for all in your family.

    Suddenly, you hear gun shots nearby! You ask yourself, “is safe to stay? Are my children safe? Are we safe? You see a person standing in the distance with a rifle in hand.

    WHAT WOULD YOU DO? Seriously, what would you really do as a mum, as a dad, as a grandma, as a grand dad?

  7. Graeme, next time you have a car accident, you can sue the car manufacturer, the RTA for giving you a license, and your mother for bringing you into the world.

    Ed, your vision of the world is so idyllic, I reckon you just stay home with the doors locked and avoid all interaction with the occasionally mean, cruel world.

    Tell me, do you look at a wall power point when inserting a plug- and think about getting electrocuted?


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