The final report of the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) investigation into Victoria’s Central West makes a raft of recommendations which, if implemented, would significantly and unjustifiably restrict recreational hunting in the area.
The recommendations propose to exclude access for hunting to 77,377ha of public land by re-classifying it from State Forest to National Park (and other similar land tenures). This would leave just 11,901ha of public land available for hunting in the region.
From a deer hunting perspective there are two issues at play here.
The first is that the proposed land tenures typically exclude all hunting (with and without dogs) without any clear rationale or evidence base for doing so.
The second is that the VEAC investigation was flawed in that:
- It excluded recreational hunters from its reference group
- It made a fundamental error in considering recreational hunting in the same context as consumptive, industrial uses of forest like timber harvesting and cattle grazing.
- It was predicated on an erroneous belief that recreational hunting and other active uses of the land are “not compatible with the objectives of National Parks”.
The most effective thing any individual constituent can do is make an appointment and visit their local MP’s (or their advisors).
It’s easy to “make noise” on Social media, but, only a very small percentage of the community actually takes the time to visit their MP. Consequently, MP’s take issues far more seriously when they do have a visit.
You should let the MP's know that:
- You are concerned about the impact that the VEAC Central West Recommendations would have on recreational hunting.
- Recreational hunting contributes more than $439m a year to the Victorian economy and that there are now around 40,000 licenced deer hunters in Victoria – a five-fold increase over the past twenty years.
- The potential exclusion of hunting is ill-considered given that recreational hunting has no known detrimental impact on public land values.
- Recreational deer hunting has been permitted National Parks for over thirty-five years in Victoria and that thousands of hunters use five Parks in the east of the state every year with no detrimental impact.
- The current system of classifying public land in Victoria is antiquated and no longer fit for purpose any review inevitably results in reduced access for active users.
- The safest outcome for hunting (and other active recreational uses) is for the land not to be re-classified. If the land is re-classified there is no sound basis for the exclusion of recreational deer hunting and clear precedents for our inclusion.
If you do get a meeting take some time to do some reading and preparation and remember that we are asking people for support. Dress tidily, do not make any threats (they know that you vote) and consider leaving them with a one-page summary of your thoughts and concerns. You might also consider sending us an email report after the meeting so that we can follow up on any issues when we are in Parliament House.
If at all possible you should aim to see local MP’s from both of the major parties and any crossbench (independent or minor party) MP’s in your area.
If you cannot get to visit your MP’s we would urge you to write to them, using the points above as a guide. There are some 'urban myths' that MP’s have to reply to handwritten or posted letters – they do not. They tend to be more responsive to local constituents than people from outside of their electorates however and, regardless of whether or not they reply, your emails and letters are read and are used as a gauge of the level of ‘feeling’ in the electorate. The importance of this should not be underestimated.
To find your local Members of Parliament enter your address in the search page of the Victorian Parliament website then click on the “District” (Lower House) and “Region” (Upper House) tabs.
You have one “District” MP and five “Region” MP’s. All of them are important.
If you have limited time and have to make a choice you should aim to visit MP’s from the Government (Australian Labor Party) as a priority.
If you are from outside of Victoria and want to help you should write to the Minister for Environment, the Minister for Agriculture and the Premier; again, using the points above as a guide and also reminding them that Victoria is a highly desirable tourist destination for interstate hunters.