The Dire Warning. “Barry O’Farrell has been warned of a ‘major risk’ that bushwalkers and parks staff will be killed or seriously injured if the state government goes ahead with its plan to allow amateur hunters into national parks.” (Heath Aston, Political Editor, Sun-Herald, 23 Dec 2012).
The Premier Is Responsible. Against his government’s policy, Premier O’Farrell has decreed there shall be hunting in 79 of the state’s national parks. Thus he breaks earlier promises, e.g. his Environment Minister Robyn Parker had told Parliament in November 2011, “I repeat that the policy of the NSW government is clear: Hunting in national parks is not and will not be permitted”.
A Torrent of Protest. “Outrageous, appalling!” protested Brian Everingham, Chair of National Parks Association.
- “A dirty deal with the Shooters and Fishers Party”, said Greens MLC Cate Faehrmann.
- “The most sickening political development in 40 years of nature conservation”, said Keith Muir, Colong Foundation.
- “Will inflict serious damage upon one of our great institutions”, said Bob Debus, former Labor Environment Minister.
- “Shame, Barry, shame!”, shouted 400 demonstrators outside Parliament on 14 June 2012.
- “How deceptive Barry O’Farrell is”, Opposition Leader John Robertson told an ALP conference in June.
- “Confrontation is inevitable [with shooters]”, declared the reps of 54 bushwalking clubs.
And Risk Assessment Adds Warning. The 59-page Draft Risk Assessment of the Office of Environment and Heritage, 10 December 2012, lists parks workers, user groups and visitors as at risk from “projectiles causing death and serious injury” (Sun-Herald 23.12.2012).
Shooting Starts in March 2013. A Sydney Morning Herald Editorial, 28.12.2012, says Minister Robyn Parker “sneaked the news of the March shooting time… into a pre-Christmas news release”.
Facts relevant to this start-up include:
- The 79 of NSW’s parks and reserves cover 50% of the parkland area.
- No extra money or staff will monitor this huge area.
- Amateur hunting, by leaving carcasses unburied, will increase feral populations of foxes, cats, pigs, dogs.
- Irresponsible gun-owners – alcohol-fuelled? – will “get a message” it’s OK to shoot in any bushland.
- Shooting can inflict cruel wounds on birds and animals that “escape”.
- NPWS staff are planning action to alert the public to dangers they will face from March onward.
Comment from First National Park Movement
The news of State Government sanctioning of shooting in national parks comes at the worst possible time for our campaign to achieve World Heritage Listing of Royal National Park. Though the Royal is not one of the 79 parks designated for shooting, there is now justified fear of irresponsible shooting taking place in any bushland. We can only hope that State Parliament will agree unanimously to the formal request we will make next week to endorse the call for World Heritage Listing and send it on to Federal Parliament to, in turn, address the final decision-maker, the United Nations agency UNESCO.
R.D. (Bob) Walshe, OAM
Chair, First National Park