Last week, Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford announced funding of $5.33 million from 2016/17 Victorian Budget to support safe, responsible and sustainable hunting.
With the full details unable to be shared at the time of the announcement, Field & Game Australia were invited to review the fine print at the 2016 Victorian Budget Special Interest Group Lockup, a closed meeting where budget papers can be reviewed by groups who would be effected by budget funding and changes.
Field & Game Australia general manager David McNabb, along with our colleagues from the Australian Deer Association (ADA), took part in the Lockup today to read and assess the planned budget.
Prior to the official budget release, we were given these details on the funding’s purposes:
· Improving the promotion of responsible hunting, providing better hunting opportunities, and ensuring our game species remain sustainable.
· Development of a Sustainable Hunting Action Plan, to be delivered in 2016.
· Improving information on, and access to, State Game Reserves.
· Coordination, in conjunction with ADA, of controlled culls of invasive deer species on public and some private land.
· Continuation of funding for firearm safety courses and the Firearm Safety Foundation.
After reviewing the full budget today, we’re only a little more the wiser, and have more questions. What detail we can share is:
· The Sustainable Hunting Action Plan funding totals $3.4 million, with the remaining $1.9 million to be advised.
· Specifics around the Firearm Safety Foundation funding and the deer management program mentioned last week were absent.
· The long-running fox bounty will continue to run and has funding committed for four years (this is outside of the $5.3 million announced last week). This fox bounty has been a successful incentive for hunters performing pest management, and has resulted in over 400,000 fox scalps being handed in since the program started in 2011.
There are some other items of interest to hunters, as surprising conservationists: in particular, the $468 million for waterways and irrigation to protect Victoria’s water supply and support a healthy environment, a prosperous economy and thriving communities. A range of funded initiatives will be monitored for opportunities under effective water management and supply; and environment, biodiversity and climate change.
There is also $29 million for community-driven action to protect Victoria’s unique biodiversity, something vital to our wetland habitats. We will be keeping an eye on these community projects as well.
It is interesting to note that international trade with China was recognised for a valuable contribution to economic growth – with a forecast growth in trade of $5 billion over 10 years. This equates to $500 million, each year. By way of comparison, the economic benefits of hunting which was $439 million in 2013, and supported 3,480 full-time jobs within the state of Victoria.
It is good to see funding commitments for hunting as a component of any state budget.