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Putting Our Faith in Premier Andrews

To Get It Done for Rural Victoria.

Countering perhaps his only party member with vision, Michael O'Brien - new Liberal leader - recently dismissed James Newbury's call to ban duck shooting, saying the activity is "regulated".

While it may be "regulated" in theory, duck shooting is not monitored at thousands of public waterways, often in close proximity to residents, posing unacceptable risk to the public and our struggling native waterbirds.

Perhaps Mr O'Brien might care to join us at our homes during duck season if there is another.

With it being impossible to monitor, "regulations" or any "season modifications" are mute.

Nearly 40% of the world's birds are in decline, largely due to human activity, including hunting (State of The World's Birds 2018).

Latest scientific data shows our native waterbirds are at record low levels, well below average with game bird species low by order of magnitude.

Meanwhile, our struggling rural Victorian economies are gasping for jobs and cash (SGS Economics & Planning 2018), while nature based tourism is flourishing elsewhere.

Consider Boort, another rural Victorian town on its knees economically having lost half its workforce in 15 years, which may see 100 duck shooters in the busiest weekend of a three month duck season (Parks Victoria; Draft Management Plan).

Conversely, Winton Wetlands where they shoot with cameras, sees 36,000 visitors a year, equating to 700 a week over 52 weeks (Winton Wetlands Annual Report). Then there's Kakadu with 200,000 visitors a year and Phillip Island where we've turned the fairly common penguin into a tourist attraction bringing $500 million a year and 2100 jobs to our state.

"Australia's biggest strength is our world class nature" according to the CEO of the Tourism and Transport Forum (Unlocking the Great Outdoors). It's time small towns across rural Victoria, blessed with stunning wetlands and waterbirds - many unique to our country - could benefit from the jobs and billions of dollars associated - $41 billion a year to be exact as reported in 2017.

Less than 0.4% of the population are licensed to shoot ducks with only half turning out to shoot last season (GMA license statistics), while over 87% of Victorians want the activity banned (Morgan Poll).

It's obvious to most, which is the more popular, humane, sustainable and lucrative pastime.

It may be easy for an MP in the comfort of their taxpayer funded job, to turn a blind eye to the adverse impacts of duck shooting on rural communities socially and economically.

We challenge any MP who condones this activity, should another season go ahead, to come and experience it with us at our homes.

Hopefully this won't be necessary and we can trust in our re-elected Labor Government's commitments to governing for all Victorians, to animal welfare and conservation of our unique wildlife.

It's time to follow the lead of other states who have banned duck shooting for reasons of cruelty and a preference for the benefits of nature tourism.

Australian Pelican, picture courtesy Eleanor Dilley.

Why the picture of a Pelican? Only a handful of waterways were checked by authorities in 2017 for wounded / non retrieved birds. Just at these few, 18 birds were found including two dead pelicans and nine dead swans. Only one waterway was checked in 2018 by authorities for wounded / non retrieved birds. (Arthur Rylah Bag Survey). The magnitude of wounded / non retrieved birds shot at thousands of waterways across Victoria is unknown.

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