NSW Government plans to allow shooting in the state’s national parks has been criticised as “ridiculous”, “evil, corrupt and selfish” by local conservationists and the Green Party.
Blue Mountains Conservation Society (BMCS) vice-president Tara Cameron said the decision was “ridiculous policy” that put the safety of park users at risk, while NSW Greens Upper House MP John Kaye said it represented a “grubby political deal” between the government and the Shooters Party to gain support for a bill to privatise the state’s electricity assets.
BMCS has urged all members to write to both Mr O’Farrell and Blue Mountains MP Roza Sage expressing opposition to the decision.
“I was told personally by the premier at a meeting in November 2010 that hunting would not occur in national parks, we were repeatedly assured that that was the position of the now-government before the election and we are just appalled that this decision has been allowed to occur,” Ms Cameron told the Gazette.
The decision will see licensed shooters being allowed in 79 of the state’s 799 national parks, nature reserves and conservation areas in what Premier Barry O’Farrell told the Gazette was a “sensible conservation policy” to reduce feral animals.
But Mr Kaye said the policy having any effect on feral animals was a “myth”.
“It is an evil, corrupt and selfish deal by the O’Farrell Government [with the Shooters Party],” he told the Gazette.
“There are many, many people that use national parks specifically for the tranquillity.
“This is a grubby political deal and something Member for Blue Mountains Roza Sage should completely disassociate herself from.”
Ms Cameron agreed, saying the policy would not do anything for effective feral animal control.
“What we’ve got instead is basically recreational hunting whereby a whole lot of people want to get into parks and have a good time experiencing their form of sport, which is a legitimate form of sport for them but it’s not going to do anything for feral animals,” she said.
“At the moment there is only shooting by professional shooters under the guidance of a park ranger. We have seen significant cuts to the park service . . . they don’t have a lot of staff to supervise hunting or shooting in national parks.
“I see it as like your work experience students turning up and being your solution to your overburdened workload. In actual fact, it just takes your time to delegate jobs to them.”
The fact shooting would not be allowed in some World Heritage areas like the Blue Mountains proved the policy was not about feral animal eradication, she said.
“The fact that it’s not proposed here . . . actually shows how it’s such a ridiculous policy, because if you really were worried about feral animals, you would do it everywhere,” Ms Cameron said.
“The reason it’s not happening here is because it’s not about feral animal control, it’s about what deal you had to do with the Shooters Party to get through your electricity privatisation. They knew shooting in Blue Mountains would be politically unsavoury.”
The safety of park users could not be guaranteed under the policy, she said.
“How can you have people with guns wandering around and say that anybody else in the park at that time is safe?” Ms Cameron said.
“I think that’s a call that just goes beyond what is really legitimately possible.”