Guilty plea to water theft in Sale Court
Field and Game Australia’s (FGA) Gippsland spokesperson, Gary Howard, today pleaded guilty in Sale Magistrates’ Court to illegally taking and diverting water under control of an authority. The water was diverted from the Latrobe River onto Heart Morass - the organisation’s private shooting property – just a week prior to the opening of the 2009 duck shooting season.
Magistrate Lou Hill fined Mr Howard $1,500 without conviction and was ordered to pay $1,500 in costs.
The prosecution followed the Coalition Against Duck Shooting’s undercover survey of the property one week before the opening of the duck shooting season.
Campaign Director, Laurie Levy, today said: “This is a huge blow to Field and Game Australia’s credibility. It is not just a theft against the local Gippsland community, but a theft from all Victorians who are doing it tough due to the long 12-year drought.
“It is more than just a coincidence that the water theft took place in the lead-up to the 2009 duck shooting season, especially as approximately 100 Field and Game Australia members had paid to shoot on the property on the opening morning. It came as no surprise that the siphoned water had attracted around one thousand native waterbirds to the wetland,” Levy said.
“As Field and Game Australia entered into a partnership to purchase the property with the Hugh Williamson Trust, the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA) and environment group, Watermark, it remains to be seen whether these highly reputable organisations will risk their credibility by remaining in partnership with FGA.
“This year the Brumby Government gave hunters a duck-shooting season, despite the science and the Department of Sustainability and Environment recommending against one, and yet Field and Game Australia let them down by illegally taking water.
“The question that has to be asked is whether this is the first time FGA have taken water without a licence, or just the first time they’ve been caught?” Levy concluded.
For further information contact:
Laurie Levy, Campaign Director,
Coalition against duck shooting
Source: Coalition against duck shooting Media Release, "Guilty Plea to water theft", Tuesday 23 June 2009