Member for Myall Lakes Stephen Bromhead says that whilst the plan to allow hunters into national parks was on hold he still believed in the policy.
“Hunting in parks and reserves has been going on for decades and over 24,000 feral animals have been shot and killed,” Mr Bromhead said.
Mr Bromhead assured people that the government’s implementation of the plan would ensure the safety of park users and staff.
“It (safety) is absolutely paramount. The protocols being put in place will ensure that there will be no shooting while people are in the park, and it will only occur in approved culling times. Hunters will need to be fully licensed by the Game Council and they will then require approval from national parks staff who will give them a time, date and place where hunting can occur.”
Mr Bromhead said that hunting as a pest eradication strategy was desperately needed in the Myall Lakes National Park.
“It’s absolutely necessary, I know there is a huge problem with feral dogs, both in the park and in other areas of the (Myall Lakes) electorate. We believe that hunting can greatly enhance pest eradication strategy and that has always been the policy of the Nationals.”
Mr Bromhead said the plan involved increased penalties for the hunting of native animals and that stringent licensing requirements would ensure hunters hunt responsibly.
“Hunters, whether they are professional or not, all undertake the same courses and are subject to the same licensing requirements.”
The plan to allow hunting in national parks was part of a deal struck by Premier Barry O’Farrell and the Shooters and Fishers Party (SFP) which saw the SFP support the government’s $3 billion power privatization bill but Mr Bromhead refuted claims that the plan to allow hunters in parks was purely political move.
“It (hunting) has always been part of National Party policy to tackle the problem of feral animals.”
The ‘No Hunting in National Parks’ campaign being driven by a coalition of environmental and conservation groups, has urged people to voice their opposition to the plan on a local government level. Armidale-Dumaresq Council last week passed a motion calling on the Premier and minister for the environment to add national parks in their local government area to be placed on an exemption list. Demonstrations are planned over the next fortnight in Bega and Wollongong and Bowral where groups are calling local councils to formalize opposition to the plan. Great Lakes Mayor Jan McWilliams said that the issue had not yet been raised at Great Lakes Council and that council had no firm position on the issue.