Article written by Robyn
Even though it wasn't held in a conveniently located venue/time, the meeting was jam packed. Both pro/con were represented in the audience and they were lively, but mostly well behaved. It should be emphatically noted that every member of the NSW govt refused to attend or be on the speakers panel.
Laurie Levy raised frightening concerns
Laurie Levy (Hon Activist), fresh in from VIC, spoke first. His compelling story wove strong and very frightening parallels through many concerns regarding the Shooters Bill. He was also the first of several speakers to bring up the dark side of the FGA & GC (Field & Game Australia & Game Council).
Most recently and during severe drought, FGA was convicted of stealing water from the Latrobe River and diverting it into their private shooting property to attract water birds and duck season could then commence:
97% of hunters choose not to join the Shooters' Party
Next up, Catherine Cusack (Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability) noted that 97% of all hunters choose not to join the Shooters' Party. She gave a number of examples of the Shooter's Party also threatening past govt (Bob Carr and John Howard to name two). She was a good speaker, but she spoke so quickly that I couldn't note down half of what she said (sorry). I did catch that 3.5 million tax-payer dollars goes to the Game Council (GC).
History shows hunting does not controlled feral animals
Dr. Carol Booth (Invasive Species Council, filling in for Dr. Tony Peacock), began by saying, "Good Morning". She wasn't confused about the time of day, but she said felt she was in a parallel universe when dealing with the Shooter's Party, especially since they bill themselves as conservationist. She said we need to heed the lessons of history because using hunters for "feral" animal control has never worked and is actually a conflict of interest.
Hunters need to maintain the opportunity to hunt so they leave breeding females, and they focus killing only male trophy animals. They also are restricted to hunting during daylight hours, and that 'ferals' are fecund and mobile which makes ground hunting the least effective method for control.
Danger of introducing new species for hunting
But, she felt the most dangerous aspect of the bill was the introduction of new species for hunting. (I'll jump ahead and note that Robert Brown's rebuttal was that the new species would be behind wire).
Shooters' Party Member seems out of touch
Robert Brown (MLC, Shooter's Party) started by saying he had history on his side. He went though specific items in the bill, explaining points he felt were most relevant. But (as illustrated by his above comment regarding new introduced species), he seriously just doesn't appear to "get it' at all.
Lee Rhiannon NSW Greens: Why so much public money to promote private party with less than 3% of vote?
Lee Rhiannon (MLC, NSW Greens) was a dynamo. She began by asking why so much public money is used to promote a private party with less than 3% of the vote. She illustrated a number of times how both Labour and Opposition have been long-time mates with the Shooters and have lobbied and traded back-room deals for many years.
Many letters against the bill - some points for even better letters
Of special note to all letter writers: within days of the June introduction of this bill, over 1000 letters hit the Green's and other government offices, which had an enormous impact according to Hon Rhiannon. She urged us to keep writing and gave some salient points to send to both the Premier and local members:
1) First, the GC should go away. They've blown through millions of public dollars in 18 months and this was public funding designed to last 10 years. They've now asked for additional funds, plus raised their budget by 30%. Also note, they've never been able to control 'ferals' and have never become self-sufficient as Ian McDonald promised they would. This money could be better and more responsibility spent.
2) Keep to "No Shooting in NP". Period. No exceptions.
3) Keep to "No commercialisation in NP"; keep them low impact and not tourist-theme parks.
4) Request the Upper House quit their deal-making and debate on merit only.
I'm sure I've left out heaps, but this is all I have time for right now.
h3>Why so much public money for unpopular game council and nothing for selfless wildlife carers?
Please note that one of the audience speakers at the end asked why so much public money was supporting gun lobbyist and private parties when native animal carers couldn't even get a tax break on self-funded care. She got the largest "whoop-whoop" applause of anyone. I'm certainly including this strong suggestion in my letter on where to better place public funds.
Please write if you can, continue to write if you can, and/or attend a meeting if you can.