Time for Gov­ern­ment to back its rhetoric in sup­port of hun­ters

Field and Game - - WADING IN - Daniel Young Mem­ber for North­ern Vic­to­ria

The 58th Vic­to­rian Par­lia­ment is about to wind up, with four more sit­ting weeks prior to the elec­tion on 24 Novem­ber. Be­tween the pub­li­ca­tion of this mag­a­zine and Par­lia­ment’s last sit­ting day in late Septem­ber, we will see whether the An­drews La­bor Gov­ern­ment has the for­ti­tude to back its rhetoric about sup­port­ing hun­ters in Vic­to­ria. The An­drews Gov­ern­ment is cur­rently sit­ting on one of its own bills, af­ter I suc­cess­fully added amend­ments to ex­pand the ob­jec­tives and func­tions of the Game Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity. In short, the changes would pro­vide a frame­work by which the reg­u­la­tors of the hunt­ing sec­tor would func­tion much like the reg­u­la­tors of the fish­ing sec­tor. The amend­ments are imbed­ded in the Pri­mary In­dus­tries Leg­is­la­tion Amend­ment Bill 2017, which the Gov­ern­ment essen­tially drafted to clean up and up­date a num­ber of acts re­lated to pri­mary in­dus­tries. The orig­i­nal bill only pro­vided for mi­nor changes to the Game Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity Act 2014. How­ever, the act’s ob­jec­tives and func­tions for the GMA is very nar­row and re­strains the au­thor­ity’s ef­fec­tive­ness. There­fore, I felt the tim­ing was right to in­tro­duce amend­ments to cre­ate a ro­bust frame­work for the agency re­spon­si­ble for li­cens­ing and reg­u­lat­ing game hun­ters. The Gov­ern­ment’s orig­i­nal Pri­mary In­dus­tries Leg­is­la­tion Amend­ment Bill passed the Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly late last year. The amended ver­sion passed the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil in May. At the time of writ­ing, the bill was still lin­ger­ing in the Leg­isla­tive Assem­bly for approval with my amend­ments. I can only as­sume the An­drews La­bor Gov­ern­ment has stalled in putting this bill to a vote for fear of hav­ing to adopt my amend­ments. The amend­ments I added are struc­turally the same clauses found within the Fish­eries Act 1995, which the Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture con­curred was work­ing well to reg­u­late the fish­ing sec­tor. On the one hand, the Min­is­ter ar­gues the GMA is fail­ing in its ex­pected du­ties, based on the un­sub­stan­ti­ated find­ings of a flawed re­port re­leased last year. Yet, on the other hand, the Min­is­ter says she does not want to fix the shortcomings of the GMA with a frame­work that is work­ing re­ally well for the Vic­to­rian Fish­eries Au­thor­ity. The dou­ble­s­peak and empty rhetoric is con­cern­ing. The Shoot­ers, Fish­ers and Farm­ers Party has long ad­vo­cated for bet­ter re­sources and leg­isla­tive pow­ers for the GMA, but the Gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to drag its feet in pro­vid­ing sub­stan­tial re­sources to the hunt­ing sec­tor. Fail­ing to sup­port these amend­ments would be an­other lost op­por­tu­nity for the Gov­ern­ment to show it truly sup­ports hunt­ing in Vic­to­ria. I en­cour­age you to con­tact your lo­cal MP and ask them to re­quest the Gov­ern­ment to bring the Pri­mary In­dus­tries Leg­is­la­tion Amend­ment Bill to a vote. Re­view of 2018 duck sea­son Duck hun­ters this sea­son be­haved ex­cep­tion­ally through­out the 2018 sea­son. This is re­ally no sur­prise, but as the num­ber of hun­ters in­crease so does the risk there will be some not do­ing the right thing. Again, any issues that were de­tected were mi­nor and com­mit­ted by a hand­ful of wrong­do­ers, com­pared to the more than 25,000 li­censed Vic­to­rian duck hun­ters who en­joyed favourable con­di­tions in most parts of the state. In the in­stances where vi­o­la­tions were com­mit­ted, the GMA were ef­fec­tive this sea­son in show­ing it can per­form an ac­cept­able level of com­pli­ance ac­tiv­i­ties. The Min­is­ter ac­knowl­edged this in stat­ing ‘they re­deemed them­selves’ this year. How­ever, the GMA fo­cus can­not sim­ply be on hun­ters any­more. To act on the dis­tur­bance of wildlife, of­fi­cials must also fine ev­ery pro­tester with a flu­oro vest, a whis­tle and a flag. Un­fin­ished busi­ness As this will be my last col­umn be­fore the elec­tion, I would like to thank ev­ery­one who of­fered sup­port and en­cour­age­ment dur­ing my first term in of­fice. As many read­ers know, pol­i­tics is not my back­ground and two months be­fore the 2014 elec­tion it never crossed my mind to run for of­fice, much less en­vi­sioned I would hold a seat. It has been an ab­so­lute plea­sure rep­re­sent­ing the con­stituents of North­ern Vic­to­ria, as well as the in­ter­ests of fel­low hun­ters and out­door recre­ational en­thu­si­asts. I would like to think my ac­tions in Par­lia­ment helped raise the pro­file of hun­ters and shoot­ers. More broadly, though, l be­lieve the Shoot­ers, Fish­ers and Farm­ers Party MPS brought to light the widen­ing gap be­tween the needs of coun­try Vic­to­ri­ans and those liv­ing in and around Mel­bourne. At ev­ery op­por­tu­nity, we tried to speak on be­half of ru­ral and re­gional Vic­to­ri­ans, who so of­ten feel ig­nored by the city-cen­tric An­drews La­bor Gov­ern­ment. Like the above-pro­posed im­prove­ments to the GMA, there still is much un­fin­ished busi­ness. There­fore, while my first term in Gov­ern­ment may be end­ing, I do hope af­ter the elec­tion I have the op­por­tu­nity to con­tinue the work we started.

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