Amongst what has been described as carnage across our waterways since the early hours of last Saturday, two great things have happened this week.
1. Tuesday 19th March, Andy Meddick, Animal Justice Party MP, introduced a bill to parliament to permanently ban duck shooting.
".... Tonight was the first reading of the bill, and we will now give the government time to review the overwhelming scientific research and public support for a ban before progressing it further through the parliament," Mr Meddick said.
Banning duck shooting is not just about ending the horrific suffering inflicted on our native waterbirds. It's about progressing our rural communities - many suffering financially - and opening up our waterways to the wider public and tourists who enjoy nature based activities currently deterred by shooting.
In his short time in parliament, Mr Meddick is trailblazing the way to a modern progressive society of benefit to Victorians across the State.
2. Also, Tuesday evening, while the ultimate decision rests with Ministers, Mt Alexander Shire voted to support an end to duck shooting at Cairn Curran reservoir.
Whilst not the first council to take such a stance, it was a strong progressive move and one we hope encourages others to follow suit.
Residents who pay significant amounts in rates for the privilege to be in these beautiful areas, have a right to safe, peaceful enjoyment of their amenity and to be able to prosper.
Independent economists have refuted claims of economic benefit from duck shooting to Victorians- particularly rural - suggesting they are "wildly overstated" and that in reality the impact is possibly even negative. A study by The Australia Institute ("Out for a Duck") showed the vast majority of would-be holiday makers avoid areas where shooting occurs (The Australia Institute - Out for a Duck).
Meanwhile, tourism contributes more economically to our country than agriculture, forestry and fishing (Tourism Satellite Account 16/17), with nature based tourism its fastest growing component ("Unlocking the Great Outdoors", Tourism & Transport Forum 2017).
The Cairn Curran area boasts stunning landscapes, home to rare and threatened birds - many unique to our country. Also, lakeside wineries, olive groves, Chinese gold mining history and so much more, capable of luring lucrative International and domestic overnight tourism, bringing much needed jobs and revenue to the area.
The shire has clearly done its due diligence.
Sadly, shooters groups have already put out a "call to arms" to fight this progressiveness, in what many could only describe as a self-serving push of their minority recreation (less than 0.4% of the population shoot our native waterbirds - GMA license statistics), showing little respect for residents, rural families' economic futures, or the majority of Victorians who oppose their activity.
Independent professional polls continue to show the majority of Victorians - city and rural - want duck shooting banned. (AC Nielsen, Morgan Poll and the recent results as published in the Herald Sun)
We applaud the Council for taking this progressive visionary stand for the benefit of their constituents and others yet to discover the beauty of the Cairn Curran area.
No positive change ever occurred without there being the visionary pioneers who stuck their necks out for it.