Motion: Duck Hunting
I would like to make some brief comments on this motion, which the Greens will not be supporting. Our opposition to duck shooting should be well known to everyone in this place. In our entire 15 years in Parliament the Victorian Greens have been calling for the end of duck shooting in this state, which we know is a barbaric practice that does not belong in Victoria. We are only one week into this year’s duck shooting season, and we have already seen shooters brazenly disregarding the rules. A number of protected birds have already been illegally shot and killed, including the blue winged shoveler and the hardhead—both of which are prohibited game birds this season—and the coot, which is not a listed game bird at all. Twenty-three native birds were illegally dumped and buried near Kerang, and we have also seen some really distressing footage of animal cruelty, like shooters stuffing wounded birds into bags while the birds are still alive. This is an all-too-frequent occurrence in duck shooting seasons, and as Mr Meddick pointed out yesterday, there is a big gap between the government’ s rhetoric on acting on bad behaviour and the reality on the ground, where breaches of the law are routinely ignored.
Last week the Premier said that:
Some of us play golf … some people go shooting. That’s a choice they’re free to make.
That it is quite a comparison to make—harmlessly hitting a ball with violently killing an animal. The vast majority of Victorians oppose the latter and have never participated in duck shooting, and more than two-thirds of Victorians agree that it should be banned in our state. So the continued approval of season after season, despite drought conditions, climate change and bushfire destroying habitat and steadily declining waterbird numbers, suggests that the government is more concerned with keeping a small group of recreational shooters happy than with listening to the majority of Victorians and is more interested in looking after these recreational shooters than protecting our precious native waterbirds, which are already dangerously at risk.
This year we have the longest season since the last state election in 2018. Despite evidence that waterbird numbers are in steady decline, with current waterbird abundance the third-lowest in 39 years, the government has gone ahead with a full-length, 90-day shooting season. It is hard not to be sceptical about their motives in this election year.
The Greens will always oppose the senseless slaughter of native waterbirds in our state, and we cannot support any amendments to give shooters even more special treatment, which is what this motion tries to do. Firstly, changing the distance a non-shooter is allowed to approach a shooter from 10 metres to 100 metres is clearly designed to protect shooters from any scrutiny of their actions. It will prevent volunteer duck rescuers from getting close enough to rescue injured birds and from seeing and capturing the illegal and cruel behaviour that is commonplace in the wetlands during hunting seasons.
Secondly, the attempt to have the shooting season set in stone by 1 January each year is simply locking the state into perpetual shooting seasons. In 2020, for example, we would have had to go ahead with the shooting season despite the devastating bushfires that swept across the state’s east, and we would have had to go ahead with the shooting season despite the beginning of the COVID pandemic and public health orders requiring people to stay at home. Enough is enough. Let us just end duck shooting for good.