Labor would scrap new laws allowing shooting in national parks if elected to government, NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson has pledged.
Mr Robertson made the promise at a protest bushwalk held in the national park at Glenbrook last Saturday, which attracted about 150 people dressed in high-vis jackets and brandishing signs.
People were feeling “conned” by Premier Barry O’Farrell, who promised not to turn national parks into hunting reserves prior to the 2011 state election, he said.
“I want to tell you all today that one of the first acts if Labor is elected and I am premier, is that we will overturn this decision to allow hunting in our national parks immediately,” Mr Robertson told the crowd to substantial cheers.
“A lot of people say this is simply scare-mongering, but the experience in New Zealand is a clear demonstration of what happens when you allow hunting to occur in our national parks. In New Zealand . . . a mother bent down brushing her teeth at a tap on a camping holiday with her family and was shot by a hunter. When that hunter was asked what happened, he simply said ‘I mistook her for a deer’.”
The protest was announced following the passage of the new legislation through State Parliament on June 21, which allows amateur hunters to shoot in 79 of the state’s national parks and reserves.
Put forward by the Shooters and Fishers Party, the laws passed as part of a deal to privatise the state’s electricity assets.
While the laws will not affect Blue Mountains National Park, Mr Robertson said the protest was held in Glenbrook because it was “symbolic of what Barry O’Farrell is allowing to occur in our national parks”.
But Blue Mountains MP Roza Sage said Mr Robertson “does not understand the issue of pest eradication in National Parks.
“The NSW Government has made it clear that the Blue Mountains National Park will have no feral pest eradication by volunteer shooters,” she said in a statement. “Any participation elsewhere by volunteer shooters in the current NPWS pest management program will only be allowed when a clear, supervised, integrated program outlining how and where it will operate is developed over the coming months.
“Safety will be paramount in any area where volunteers are involved, as it is already in the current program."
Deputy Mayor Mark Greenhill was among the protesters, saying the risk of accidents under the new laws was “obvious”.
Labor candidate for Ward 2 Romola Hollywood, who was also present on the day, issued a statement saying she would be pushing for the Blue Mountains to be declared a “recreational hunting-free zone” if elected to Blue Mountains City Council (BMCC) in September.
“In the past, local councils have advocated strongly against nuclear power by creating Nuclear Free Zones. It’s time to apply the same principle and declare the Blue Mountains a Recreational Hunting Free Zone,” she said in a statement.
NSW Labor deputy Upper House leader Adam Searle, ALP spokespeople for Blue Mountains and Macquarie, Trish Doyle and Susan Templeman, plus council candidates Mick Fell and Don McGregor, were also present.