Natural Resources Commission panders to ideology and ignores evidence
The New South Wales Natural Resources Commission’s (NRC) has recently provided a report to cabinet on a statewide pest animal management review (‘Shared Problem, Shared Solutions’).
Of concern is a recommendation to manage deer as a pest animal, remove deer from the Game and Feral Animal Control Act and include deer in a regulation under the Biosecurity Act. The practical effect of these changes would be to undermine the successful public land hunting system and to place an unnecessary, expensive and counterproductive onus on private landowners to control deer on their property, whilst adjacent public land is left to act as a de-facto sanctuary.
The recommendations were not supported by evidence, data or a sober analysis of actual results of pest listings in other Australian jurisdictions.
Of the hundreds of submissions received and published on the NRC website less than 10 per cent of independent submissions supported the NRC’S recommendation about deer — none of those provided any verifiable evidence.
Since the submission period closed representatives of the NRC have taken the extraordinary step of appearing in the media to actively lobby their recommendations.
The NRC is an independent advisery body that reports to the Premier of New South Wales.
Nowhere in the Commission’s enabling legislation or strategic plan is it contemplated that it would actively and publicly lobby on recommendations prior to them being adopted by the government. This unusual course of action would indicate that the NRC knows it has not gained the support it had hoped for in the submission process, forcing it to go public to attempt to pressure the cabinet into supporting its position.
Wild deer populations in Queensland and South Australia have continued to disperse and expand unabated despite pest listings in those states, and the South Australian Government is currently reviewing its approach in light of this failure. It is universally agreed that the concept of compelling landowners to control deer beyond a level that suits their own operations is, quite predictably, an abject failure.