Shooters Party tries to force hunting in parks of NSW, Australia
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2009:
SYDNEY–“We won’t be looking at hunting in national parks,”
New South Wales environment minister John Robertson told reporters on
October 28, 2009, but pledged to “do more to deal with feral
animals in our national parks.”
Robertson’s statement came a week after NSW prime minister
Nathan Rees suggested that the nominally governing Labor Party might
cut a deal with the two-seat Shooters Party to allow hunters to cull
“vermin and feral animals.”
A party that wins just 106,513 votes out of 3.8 million cast
seldom enjoys much clout. But the two seats held by the pro-gun and
pro-hunting Shooters Party have given it the balance of power since
April 2007 in the five-party New South Wales Legislative Council.
The Legislative Council is the upper house of the NSW parliament.
The Labor Party, nominally forming the government, can
govern only with Shooters Party support. The Shooters Party has
since June 2009 refused to back Labor Party legislation, in an
attempt to force the Labor Party to pass a Shooters Party bill that
would open 13 NSW national parks to hunting.
Sydney Morning Herald reporter Erik Jensen on October 21,
2009 described several deals that Robertson’s office allegedly
offered the Shooters Party–all refused by the Shooters, who insist
that their bill must be passed intact.
The report that the Labor Party might allow hunting of some
sort in national parks, or at least some parks, brought an open
split between Labor and the Public Service Association, one of the
major NSW labor unions. “The Public Service Association, which
represents park rangers, has ordered its members not to assist in
establishing recreational hunting in national parks in NSW,” wrote
Sydney Morning Herald state politics correspondent Louise Hall.
Public Service Association general secretary John Cahill warned that
without park ranger support, “a plan to introduce regulated hunting
under the supervision of NSW National Parks would likely fail,” Hall
Cahill asked uniformed rangers and other Public Service
Association members to join a rally against the Shooters bill,
organized by the Green Party.
“There is no such thing as conservation hunting. It is a
myth,” declared National Parks & Wildlife Services area manager Kim
de Govrick at the rally.
During the legislative standoff, however, the Labor Party
has allowed local councils to authorize culls of species from mynah
birds to kangaroos. In September 2009, for example, the Bathurst
Regional Council was allowed to have 140 kangaroos shot–half the
local population–to keep kangaroos away from the route of the
Bathurst 1,000 automobile race.
Earlier, Sydney Morning Herald state political editor
Andrew Clennell revealed that “Documents obtained under
freedom-of-information laws show Department of Environment & Climate
Change officials warning the Government of dire consequences,
including to public safety, should shooting be allowed in national
parks. The documents also cast doubt over the usefulness of the Game
Council, set up by the Government to regulate hunting, headed by
members of the Shooters Party. The Government has been accused of
setting up the council,” Clennell wrote, “to secure Shooters Party
This came three days after Sydney Morning Herald reporter
Jensen wrote that the NSW government “is under pressure to undertake
a full audit of the Game Council after revelations that it awarded a
key tender to a company its chairman had run for 10 years,” while
Ben Cubby of the Sydney Morning Herald on the same day reported that
the Environmental Defenders Office of NSW had filed a complaint of
false advertising against the Game Council with the Australian
Competition & Consumer Commission.
Explained Cubby, “The Game Council–funded by the state
government–began a marketing push in Sydney earlier this year,
saying shooters help the environment by eradicating feral animals.”
The complaint “says the council’s claims do not stack up because of
the relatively small number of animals killed, and the relatively
high cost of killing them.”
Elaborated Clennell, “One document shows that the Game
Council issued 9,000 hunting licences across the state between 2006
and 2007 and that 6,000 feral animals were shot (0.5 pest animals per
hunter per year). At the same time, one three-day cull by the
Department of Environment & Climate Change resulted in 3,000 feral
pigs being culled, illustrating how much more effective departmental
teams were than the Game Council in ridding the state of feral
Not mentioned was that killing any abundant feral species,
by anyone using any method, has never lastingly eradicating the
species from any part of mainland Australia.
Scandals involving the Shooters Party continued when in
August 2009 the Taronga Western Plains Zoo was suspended from selling
animals, after selling 16 blackbuck antelope, native to India, to
a private game reserve being developed by a prominent Shooters Party
member. “Hunting exotic animals in enclosed game reserves is illegal
in NSW, but is the subject of Shooters’ Party legislation before
Parliament,” wrote Jensen of the Sydney Morning Herald.