THERE WAS NO celebration of hunting and killing with sale of guns and free admission for children in 2019, at least not on crown land in the heart of Narooma. The decision to cancel was made “for commercial reasons” by the president of the South Coast Hunters Club, and not by the Eurobodalla Shire council.
The Council always had the power to revoke the licence for any reason, but regarded the event, in the oft-quoted words of one councillor, as “No more important than a teddy bears’ picnic”. Councillors Harding, Bryce, McGinlay and Mayne are to be credited for being the only councillors since the introduction of HuntFest to strongly vote against it in the interest of community safety and well-being.
The Narooma Huntfest was licenced by two successive Councils to operate until 2022 without there being any real community discussion, debate, or approval, and justified by Council on the grounds that it brought visitors and money to the town.
The event satisfied the ambitions of the local hunters club, supported by —
the powerful Sporting Shooters Association of Australia, which has always had the aims of increasing gun ownership in Australia; liberalizing the rules and regulations governing gun ownership; the number of places where recreational hunters can fire their ammunition or shoot their bows and arrows; and decreasing the age at which adults can get a gun licence and children can shoot a gun with adult supervision.
Not surprisingly many community members and outside organisations disagreed with an event which encouraged gun proliferation on the grounds that buying a gun and using it to kill feral animals was an effective and safe recreational activity, and one that the whole family would enjoy.
The RSPCA states unequivocally that it is opposed to recreational hunting, or the act of pursuing or stalking an animal for sport, due to the inherent pain or suffering caused. The only circumstances where recreational hunters could be used for pest animal control would be as part of a government supervised management program with mandatory competence assessment for shooting accuracy.
As for encouraging children with free activities to make them regard killing animals as fun, RSPCA’s Hugh Wirth said, “You can’t on one hand encourage kids to go on shooting sprees and the[n] claim you can manage their respect for all living things.”
The AMA position statement on behalf of Dr Gannon, former president of the association said, “We acknowledge a legitimate role for firearms in regulated sport, agriculture, and for the military and police. But possession of firearms in the community represents a public health issue. It is common sense that any weapon, device or activity that can cause death and injury is a public health issue.” Not to our local council it would seem.
For the past six years David Shoebridge, Greens MLC has demonstrated his opposition to gun proliferation and support for nature and the environment by holding Animals in the Wild, an increasingly-popular, Australia-wide photographic competition, as an appreciation of what makes our wildlife and environment so very special, and why we should fight to protect it.
Nature Coast, not Hunters’ Headquarters.
— Susan Cruttenden, Dalmeny
IMAGE: Author supplied.