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Duck Shooting or Democracy?

Recreational duck shooting is banned in QLD, NSW and WA. It was never allowed in ACT.

Independent polls of city and country people continue to show the majority of Victorians want it banned here too.

So why hasn’t it been? Read on.

The matter was debated in parliament on August 28 and reading through the Hansard notes felt like like witnessing a “Yes Minister” sitcom.

Comments from Coalition MPs reflected close ties to the minority number of duck shooters, rather than the broad base of their constituents.

In the majority of Victorian electorates, less than half a percent of voters are licensed duck shooters. The highest figure anywhere in the state is only 2.48% (based on GMA licence statistics). Official figures show around half are duck shooters in name only as opposed to active duck shooters.

(One Coalition MP- who quoted directly from a letter to her from a hunting group - referred to the bill to ban duck shooting in Victoria as "ridiculous". Another referred to duck hunting opponents - i.e. the majority of Victorians - as “ecoterrorists”. )

Perhaps those MPs should excuse themselves from their hunting buddies for a bit and get out to speak with their constituents.

Another MP (Shooters party) criticized the success of Winton Wetland calling it a failure - hardly the case when, since swapping bird shooting with guns to “shooting” with cameras, it now sees 52,000 visitors a year despite drought conditions. This is twice the number of licensed duck shooters there are in all Victoria.

Another drew an analogy of recreational shooting of birds with shotguns, to traditional owners needing to hunt for food 60,000 years ago. We wonder how traditional owners feel about that, particularly as it's not that long ago they were being shot at also?. (This MP chose not to remember that "culture").

“Regulation” was mentioned in justification of the minority choice of recreation. Yet non-compliance continues whether or not the areas are monitored (and the vast majority are not), posing unacceptable risk to people and native birdlife- many species unique to our country and in heartbreaking decline.

The economic argument was floated also but does it add up?

The small figure estimated to be derived from duck shooting (so small perhaps it's the reason why MPs felt the need to quote an estimate for hunting of all animals instead) pales to insignificance against that of nature based tourism arguably hampered by it.

We’d like to thank Mr Meddick for raising the bill to cancel the duck shooting season. Victorians can feel heard.

His vision for nature-based tourism is progressive – it’s the fastest growing component of tourism in general which according to the Tourism Satellite Account, contributes more to our country than agriculture, forestry and fishing.

Many rural Victorian areas struggling economically - particularly traditional "duck shooting" areas - could certainly do with a financial life-line.

We’d like to thank Dr. Ratnam for supporting the bill, acknowledging the unacceptable suffering of the birds. At least 1 in 4 birds shot do not die outright but flutter away to die slow painful deaths over days or weeks. (This statistic comes from one of the world’s best shooters). Worthy of note is that animal welfare is an important factor to 98% of Victorians (Labor's Animal Welfare Action Plan 2016).

We’d like to thank Mr. Hayes for supporting the bill, calling out the plight of our declining native waterbirds, for recognizing rural Victorians whose families, animals and livelihoods are adversely impacted by duck shooting and finally, for referencing his constituents.

Because apparently this is what MPs are here for. Constituents.

The sequel to the sitcom will be interesting to say the least.

Picture Pacific Black Ducks, courtesy Eleanor Dilley

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