Pollies unite against hunting

Luke Foley, Justine Elliot, Michael Armstrong, Walt Secord and Reece Byrnes gathered at Cudgen Nature Reserve over concerns about hunting laws.
Luke Foley, Justine Elliot, Michael Armstrong, Walt Secord and Reece Byrnes gathered at Cudgen Nature Reserve over concerns about hunting laws. John Gass

LABOR Party members from all tiers of government were at Cudgen Wetlands yesterday in a unified stand against hunting in the nation's wildlife reserves and national parks.

According to the opposition, the NSW Government passed laws to allow hunting in 79 parks but the law could be expanded to include 800 parks across the state.

NSW opposition environment spokesperson Luke Foley, Richmond MP Justine Elliot, MLC Walt Secord and Tweed Shire Council candidates Michael Armstrong and Reece Byrnes were at Cudgen Nature Reserve to highlight the potential threat to this reserve under the laws.

Mr Foley, who was visiting the Tweed yesterday, said opening the parks to hunters was not only a threat to native wildlife but also people using parks for other recreational pursuits.

"(This united stand from the three tiers of government) doesn't happen regularly and it's a sign of how strongly we oppose hunting in our national parks," Mr Foley said.

"Opening up our national parks to armed hunters will threaten the safety of bush walkers, campers and other park users.

"Before the election, Premier Barry O'Farrell promised not to turn our national parks into hunting reserves, but that is exactly what is happening under his government.

"At the stroke of the minister's pen, any park on the North Coast could be added to the list of national parks open to the shooters."

Tweed MP Geoff Provest said last year 24,000 feral animals were taken out of the national parks.

"It's all about caring for the environment these hunters target fox, rabbit, goats, feral deer and wild pig," Mr Provest said.

"They need permits and there are strict penalties for shooting native animals.

Mr Provest said the Game Council of NSW was the overseeing body for hunters in National Parks.

Mrs Elliot said there was widespread opposition to the hunting.

"Tragically, we can look to New Zealand for alarming consequences of these laws. In the past two years, there have been two accidental shooting deaths in New Zealand parks, including a 25-year-old woman. She was mistakenly identified as a deer," said Mrs Elliot.

Mr Secord said the 79 parks comprise almost 40% of all the state's parks and reserves and amount to close to three million hectares.

"To put it into perspective, the O'Farrell Government is going to allow hunting by recreational shooters in an area the size of the European nation of Belgium," said Mr Secord.

Topics:  environment hunting labor politics shooters and fishers party

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