Hunting petition sends message to government

Hunting has long been a favourite pastime in North Queensland where feral pig populations have run rampant for years. PICTURE: QLD GOVERNMENT

A PETITION calling for a trial of conservation hunting in Queensland State Forests has received overwhelming support from the state’s sport shooting fraternity after amassing more than 13,500 signatures.

Officially tabled in parliament this morning, the parliamentary E-Petition proposes a three year trial of conservation hunting in Queensland State Forests where feral species such as deer, rabbits, cats and pigs would be targeted.

Petition sponsor Hinchinbrook MP Nick Dametto said the State Government should now be under no illusion that there was a clear appetite for such a trial amongst recreational hunters.

“In essence, I support what the petition is trying to achieve and that is more freedom for licensed firearm owners in Queensland,” he said.

“The “lock it up and leave it” approach to State Forests taken by government has allowed feral animals to explode in population, wreaking havoc on the environment and our native wildlife in State Forests.

“If the government refuses to properly maintain their forests and parks, then allowing hunting is a good solution to keeping a check on feral species.”

Mr Dametto also acknowledged the great work of the Sport Shooters’ Association of Australia’s (SSAA’s) Conservation and Wildlife Management Queensland division, which conducts pest animal management activities on properties owned by governments, private landowners and conservation groups.

“We are certainly not trying to take away from the SSAA’s existing pest management program that has achieved so much for sport shooters. My support for the petition has come out of a genuine calling from sport shooters from all walks of life,” he said.

“What this becomes is a catalyst for a very good discussion piece. Perhaps this opens up an opportunity for the SSAA to build on their existing program. This petition is a step forward for licensed recreational hunters all over Queensland.

“If this proposed trial was to go ahead, this would be a major change in Queensland that would involve significant consultation with multiple stakeholders, including traditional owners, lease holders, government, conservation groups and hunting groups to name a few.”

Mr Dametto warned that if the State Government were not willing to support the main thrust of the petition, then it could become a significant issue at the next State election.

“Whether the government wants to acknowledge it or not, sport shooters make up a large proportion of the voting base in Queensland,” he said.

“With more than 13,500 signatures accounted for in this petition, those voters are spread out across the state and are in marginal electorates, which could swing those seats at the election.

“Whether we are dealing with a future State Labor or LNP government, recreational hunting in State Forests would be a lucrative financial opportunity for them and I know it would be hard to pass up given how much money both parties like to spend when in power.”

A report commissioned by New South Wales’ Game Licensing Unit into the economic impact of recreational hunting in NSW found “recreational hunting by 19,000 game hunting licence holders accounted for $119 million of Gross State Product and 860 jobs within the NSW economy”. The 207,000 non-game licence holders “accounted for between $446 million and $1.366 million of Gross State Product and between 3932 and 11,572 jobs”.

“I believe the economic and tourism benefits of recreational hunting offered by the NSW scheme could be replicated in Queensland, combined with an environmental benefit of helping to eradicate feral animals, such as pigs,” Mr Dametto said.

Now that the E-Petition has been tabled, it will passed on to the appropriate minister to issue a response within 30 days, which in this case will by March 28.

Nick Dametto MP