Today’s announcement of a twelve-month extension of all Victorian Game Licences due to COVID-19 disruptions is a welcome gesture of goodwill.
The Australian Deer Association did not ask for this – we have been focusing our efforts on working productively with governments across the country to ensure that the settings are right to return to public land hunting as soon as we possibly can.
We have good reason to be hopeful that will happen sooner rather than later, including in Victoria. Today’s announcement however is a tangible sign that hunters have not been forgotten. There will, no doubt, be people read a lot into it, but it really is that simple.
The ADA did lead the way in introducing hardship measures for members and we welcome this initiative from Government in the same vain.
Unlike with fishing in Victoria and hunting in New South Wales, where licence revenue goes into a trust to be spent directly on management and habitat, Victorian Game Licence revenue goes directly into consolidated revenue.
In recent years the Victorian Government has increased the budget for the Game Management Authority considerably, it is important that the major reforms that have and are taking place there are still well resourced to continue.
The following from Minister Symes' office this morning:
The Government acknowledges the significant impact the Chief Health Officer’s directions have had – and will continue to have, until at least 11 May – on the ability of people to hunt recreationally; having already affected open seasons for hog deer, hound hunting of sambar deer, stubble quail and gamebirds.
Minister Symes has announced (see attached) that the Government will extend the expiry date of game licences by 12 months, in recognition of this impact. It’s the right thing to do, to thank hunters for staying home and doing the right thing as we all work together to slow the spread of coronavirus – it’s been challenging and frustrating, but it’s working.
Anyone with a valid Victorian Game Licence that was purchased prior to 30 June 2020 (excluding non-resident of Australia Game Licence and Private Game Bird Reserve Game Licence) will receive an automatic twelve-month extension to the expiry date of their licence. This includes holders that have both a short-term or long-term Game Licence, Junior Licence and Provisional Licence holders.
Anyone eligible for a licence extension will automatically receive a new licence card in the mail during November 2020, with an updated expiry date. Your members will not be required to do anything – this process will occur automatically.
All game licences will remain current this year, for hunting during applicable open seasons (where allowed by directions issued by the Chief Health Officer).
Hunters who purchase a licence after 30 June in any given year already enjoy a grace period on that licence. For short-term licences purchased after 30 June 2020, the licence won’t expire until 31 December 2021 and for long-term licence applicants, their licence won’t expire until 31 December 2023.
In response to the directions of the Chief Health Officer, the GMA has also temporarily suspended WIT and hound hunting tests until further notice. Anyone who has already booked a test will have their booking fee refunded.
There has been no change to previously declared open seasons for any game species.