Premier’s park hunting backdown the price of power sale

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Premier’s park hunting backdown the price of power sale

May 30, 2012 – 2:10PM

 Barry O'Farrell

Barry O’Farrell. Photo: AFR

National parks in NSW will be opened up to recreational hunters as part of a deal between the Shooters and Fishers Party and the government to ensure passage of its electricity privatisation bill.

The decision, announced by the Premier, Barry O’Farrell, this morning, represents a significant backdown by the Premier, who has repeatedly ruled out allowing shooting in national parks.

The government’s electricity privatisation bill has been stalled in the NSW upper house because of a lack of support from Shooters and Fisher’s Party MPs, who share the balance of power.

It needs the support of at least one of the MPs to pass legislation opposed by Labor and the Greens.

The government announced today that the Game and Feral Animal Control Act will be amended to allow shooting of feral animals in “a limited number of areas under strict conditions” but not near metropolitan areas or wilderness or world heritage areas.

Mr O’Farrell said the power sale would deliver about $3 billion.

He said the government met the Shooters and Fishers MPs last night to hammer out the deal.

He said he and the Deputy Premier and leader of the NSW Nationals, Andrew Stoner, met the Shooters and Fishers MPs last night to hammer out the deal.

Under the changes, licensed shooters will be able to apply for access to 79 of the state’s national parks to hunt feral animals including pigs, dogs, cats and goats and deer.

Mr O’Farrell said culling of feral animals already occurred in some national parks by professional shooters, including the Royal National Park.

Hunters will require written permission and need to be licensed by the Game Council of NSW, which regulates recreational hunting.

Access conditions will be established by the Environment Minister, Robyn Parker, he said.

But the Opposition Leader, John Robertson said the decision was “completely outrageous” and one that would compromise safety.

“National parks are recognised as being iconic in the protection of flora and fauna,” he said.

“Barry O’Farrell was emphatic: he promised that in no circumstances would he allow hunting in our national parks.”

The Labor environment spokesman, Luke Foley, said it was of concern that Ms Parker would be in charge of the process, given her comments to a budget estimates hearing that logging protecting koalas.

“The Environment Minister who sent the loggers in after koalas [will] now send the shooters in to finish the job,” he said.

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