This week, the Game and Feral Animal Control Amendment Bill 2013 has been introduced into NSW Parliament. The National Parks Association of NSW is outraged that the Bill fails to safeguard NSW from unsupervised recreational hunting in NSW National Parks or other public lands.
"Since the NSW Premier announced that amateurs would not be hunting in national parks in July 2013, we have lobbied the government to either revoke or amend the Game and Feral Animal Control Act to accurately reflect its new position," says Justin McKee, Campaign Coordinator, National Parks Association of NSW.
"We were pleased when the Premier promised to allow the professional National Parks and Wildlife Service staff to manage feral animal control programs in national parks as they always had done, removing the nonsense of involving Game Council staff and unsupervised hunters.
"However, the Bill proposed on Tuesday indicates the government has taken a politically expedient course and is prepared to risk inflaming the public debate around hunting on public land all over again.
"The National Parks Association of NSW has determined that effective feral animal control is not the primary driver for this legislation.
"Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson has clearly picked up the shooters agenda emanating from within the National Party.
"If the Bill becomes law in its current form, we are left vulnerable to future attempts to allow unsupervised amateur hunters in our national parks, the use of black powder weapons in these programs and children under the age of 18 years.
"The Government has a small window to secure the public's trust by legislating what it promised. The people of NSW want their safety guaranteed, to see no risks presented for our native animals and decisions being informed by science and experience.
"If the Bill is not redrafted to reflect promises made by the Premier on 4 July 2013 on the issue of hunting, the government in turn, make ‘hunting in national parks' an election issue.
The National Parks Association of NSW has stated that if the Government is committed to addressing the serious feral animal problem in NSW it would have used the opportunity afforded them with this amendment to the Game and Feral Animal Control Act by introducing into law stronger legislation that addressed these problems.
"The Bill in its current form is tokenistic at best, is weakly drafted, designed to appease a vocal minority in the National Party and give the government future bargaining power should the need it in the future," concludes Mr McKee.
Media contact: Justin McKee 0404 824 020