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Above: Australian Black Swan, collateral damage in duck shooting seasons. Documents obtained through Freedom of Information show 43 swans (amongst hundreds of other protected and threatened species) were found dead just at the few shooting waterways which happened to be monitored one year. (Such comprehensive data is no longer collected by the regulator.


$100 Million and Counting


Since 2014, Victorian taxpayers have unwittingly paid eye-watering sums to support hunting and shooting in the state.


Here’s the tally we know of so far:


  • $38m for the “independent” hunting regulator

  • $10.6m for the “Sustainable Hunting Acton Plan”

  • $25.48m for the “Shooting Sports Facilities Program” (paid to hunting/shooting clubs for facilities upgrades and purchase of land). For example Field & Game Australia (FGA) received $750,000 to purchase a property at Willowmavin near Kilmore, and Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (Victoria) received $695,000 for its Springvale shooting range (in former Premier Daniel Andrews’ electorate).

  • $11m for lead pollution clean-up at shooting ranges

  • Undisclosed costs of other taxpayer funded government agencies (DJSIR, DEECA, Parks Victoria and Victoria Police) involved in hunting matters

  • $10m just recently pledged to try to educate shooters to reduce wounding

  • Ongoing financial assistance for a private duck-shooting wetland near Sale (owned by hunting group Field & Game Australia): $500,000 from VicRoads offset funds; maintenance and improvement grants; funding for field days; and in-kind assistance from the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority. Interestingly this native-bird-shooting property is "protected" by a Trust for Nature Covenant.


See more detail here.


Many may feel strongly that shooters should pay their own way (like most other hobbyists do), and taxpayer funds could be directed to causes which benefit all taxpayers!


Where’s the transparency?


Questions have been repeatedly put to the hunting regulator but remain unanswered. We note there is a new Chair of GMA (a former member of the Victorian Fisheries Authority Board, where he sat with the Premier’s husband for 5 years). Hence, we've asked again for an answer to the following:


  1. What is the approximate number of public lakes, streams, creeks, rivers, reservoirs, wetlands and other waterways open to native bird hunting? Is the estimated range closer to 8000 or 20,000?  

  2. What percentage of shooting areas is monitored? (By our calculations, a shocking 1% of hunting waterways are monitored. Hence it's unclear how the regulator can know what is shot, or ensure bird shooting is safe or sustainable, or that shooters abide by hunting laws.)  

  3. Why has the regulator refused to recommend a single waterway be closed to shooting for social/economic reasons, despite being aware of numerous community complaints and petitions and the fact it is a function of the GMA under the GMA Act, to (a) consider social/economic impacts and (b) make recommendations to close wetlands?  

  4. Why has the regulator refused to release key documents concerning the shock decision to more than double the kill quota of ducks in 2021, despite the Office of Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC) ruling that it should? (Instead, the “independent” regulator has applied to have the case heard at VCAT – at taxpayers' expense - hoping to overturn OVIC’s decision).  

The NSW Game Council was disbanded in 2014 due to conflict of interest, attempting to both promote and regulate hunting. VicForests has just been disbanded amid allegations of mismanagement and illegal behaviour. Victoria’s Game Management Authority was set up in 2014 by former Minister Peter Walsh (a long-time member of hunting lobby group Field & Game Australia). The GMA was based on the NSW Game Council…Perhaps a third strike could be in order here, and a substantial savings gained by Victorian taxpayers - most of whom do not hunt.


Request to Minister for Wetland Exclusions


RVOTDS is compiling a list of public waterways that should be closed to shooting, which will soon be sent to the Minister. Reasons include:


·      Presence of threatened species.

·      Adverse impact to nearby homes and businesses.

·      Community's fears for safety, and desire to enjoy public amenity in peace.

·      Preference for nature-based tourism and other more popular family-friendly activities like boating, fishing, kayaking and birdwatching.


It is ludicrous that tens of thousands of public waterways must be open to native bird shooters, particularly when less than half of one percent of the population shoot native birds.


We hope Minister Dimopoulos will make a sensible decision in the short term, while he moves to close all shooting areas in line with the key recommendation of the government’s Parliamentary Inquiry.


Do you know a waterway which has threatened species on it, or should be closed to shooting for another reason? Let us and/or Minister Steve Dimopoulos know.


Above: In the beautiful Boort area, known for Indigenous culture, the majority of nine sizeable public waterways, are currently open to recreational bird hunters.


International Gun Lobby Fires Up In Victoria


Meanwhile, shooters have erected a billboard outside an RSL in Gippsland in contempt of the vast majority of Victorians who are opposed to bird hunting, let alone disadvantaged by it.


Concerningly, the sign claims it’s already duck season, when the legal start date is weeks away. But the real concern is the funding.

Did the local hunting club use their “own” funds – aka taxpayers’ funds which the government has awarded them for “conservation” projects? Or member fees, when many of their members are in fact opposed to bird hunting?  Or did the funding all come from the international gun lobby? The sign bears the logo of a group tastefully known as “Blood Origins” - an international pro-hunting group whose sponsors are all things guns:


As for the location, returned soldiers have likely seen enough of guns and would not want pro-guns messages right outside their premises.


None of this would seem consistent with the shooters' mantra of respect.



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