HUNTING REGULATOR UNDER FIRE FOR SUPPRESSING DOCUMENTS BEFORE ELECTION
91 FIRST NATIONS CLANS, BUSINESS, UNION, WILDLIFE AND ENVIRONMENT ORGANISATIONS CALL FOR BAN
RVOTDS has launched a "vote knowingly" campaign with billboards around the state.
VICTORIAN HUNTING REGULATOR UNDER FIRE for SUPPRESSING DOCUMENTS BEFORE ELECTION A FRESH bid by the Game Management Authority to suppress documents which led to the Labor Government’s controversial policy on duck shooting, has re-ignited the call for a ban in the lead-up to the state election. The hunting regulatory body has taken its fight to VCAT to halt the release of documents related to its decision-making process which resulted in the Victorian Government doubling the daily kill quota of ducks last year, despite long-term science showing an alarming decline in duck populations. The GMA was dealt a blow by the Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner who last month ruled that documents sought by Regional Victorians Opposed to Duck Shooting inc were not exempt from release under Freedom of Information law. RVOTDS sought the documents under FOI after the Government’s shock decision to increase the limit of ducks for recreational shooters based on the results of a trial helicopter survey of duck numbers.
Figure 1 source: East Australian Annual Waterbird Survey - Game Duck Abundance Index
The Victorian Information Commissioner ordered the release of documents in the public interest that the GMA had withheld. OVIC stated in its decision:
“I am satisfied disclosure of the documents would promote transparency and accountability in government decision-making processes in respect to the Agency’s independent statutory role, including to monitor the game duck population, which informs decisions made as to duck hunting season quotas.
"There is strong public interest in the public being better informed about the advice obtained and provided by the agency given its independent role and statutory functions.”
“It is the role of the government, supported and informed by analysis and advice undertaken by Agency officers, to make decisions and act in the best interests of the public – a role that is necessarily and appropriately the subject of public scrutiny.”
“It makes you wonder what is in these documents that the GMA is trying so hard to keep hidden from the public at taxpayers’ expense before the state election,” RVOTDS said in a statement. "With a litany of environmental reports revealing Victoria’s ecosystems and wildlife in crisis, most Victorians against the cruel ‘recreational’ killing of native wildlife, and media reports suggesting the Labor Party is itself deeply divided over duck shooting, it's time the State Government did the right thing and permanently removed this stain on its environmental credentials." RVOTDS has engaged a barrister to continue the legal fight for the documents’ release, but has called on the hunting regulator to show transparency and accountability before the election by releasing the documents.
Duck Shoot Ban Gains Strong Support - Alliance of 91 Groups Writes to Ministers Meanwhile, the number of First Nations Clans, business, union, wildlife and conservation groups publicly lending their voice to call for a cease-fire has skyrocketed to 91, representing hundreds of thousands of Victorian voters. As occurred in August 2020, a group letter was sent in September 2022, to the Premier and Ministers for Environment and Agriculture, copied to many MPs. The letter (pictured above) referenced the Labor Party’s 2019 vote to review its policy on recreational duck shooting, a pastime already banned in NSW, ACT, WA and QLD. No response has been received. RVOTDS sincerely thanks the growing numbers of organisations publicly speaking up for our precious wildlife and regional communities.
Above: a mock up advertisement of the group's letter and signatures. It is not yet confirmed what media outlets this will feature in.
Vote Knowingly Together with Australian Wildlife Society, RVOTDS sought responses from political parties regarding policies and achievements. The resultant table summary below was compiled by RVOTDS. (Party names are in no particular order.)
**Disclaimer: RVOTDS does not seek to advise people how to vote, but to assist awareness based on our extensive research and experiences. We sincerely thank SAP, REASON, AJP and the Greens for their ongoing dedication to listening/responding to constituents. Neither Labor nor Liberal responded to our survey - their table responses are based on RVOTDS' understanding of public information. Responses were not sought from independents - we encourage voters to research their policies. Responses were not sought from Shooters Party nor Liberal Democrats given their public commitment to recreational native bird killing. Once every four years we have a chance to demand better at the ballot boxes.
Can smaller parties form government? Possibly not (yet) - but they can certainly help ensure democracy in the meantime and are an important voice for regional communities, the environment and wildlife. RVOTDS hopes to see as many of the "good guys" elected to parliament as possible. See more detailed information on party policies and achievements here.