Field & Game Australia

Advocating for hunters

In past years it’s been a fairly simple task to summon the highlights but this past year is not filled with memories of being in the field with a young gun dog bringing a difficult retrieve back to hand or a day spent on a challenging Simulated Field layout and making new friends.

As we strive to position ourselves for the future, we’re experiencing a significant increase in the tempo of our operations. Simultaneously, the volume of advocacy work has also increased dramatically, demonstrated by the number of submissions and representations on key issues we make to governments around the country on behalf of our members.

Advocacy takes time as we address the issues relevant to our three key areas; conservation, hunting and recreational shooting. Effective advocacy requires an investment of precious resources: we cannot forget that those opposing us are extremely well funded.

To combat this, we must carefully invest our resources in planning thoroughly, developing clear objectives, researching and writing submissions and papers based on facts and data. It’s essential to then invest even more of our precious resources in communicating, ensuring that while our message may not be agreed with, the facts and data supporting our case are readily understood.

We are developing greater awareness of the FGA story with politicians, government agencies and bureaucrats.

Pleasingly, we’re starting to see results. The removal of the Victorian Emergency Closures Advisery Committee (ECAC) required a change in legislation, and we developed parliamentary support to achieve this change. Yet the removal of ECAC isn’t the end of this issue, government went on the record that they would continue to consult with other stakeholders, leaving it open to detract from the expert advice available from the Government’s own statutory authority, the Game Management Authority.

In other stunning developments, RSPCA Victoria has adopted all recommendations from the release of the independent report into its activities. A joint effort with our colleagues at the Australia Deer Association has spanned more than three years to “get our RSPCA back”.

Are we seeing RSPCA return to animal welfare just as the charity did in the UK in response to growing criticism?

The chapter in the independent report titled “Advocacy versus Activism” highlights the conflict created through RSPCA’s active campaigning against a number of legitimate activities, specifically mentioning ‘duck shooting’, while still seeking to hold the privileged position as the government’s trusted animal welfare agency.

The response by RSPCA Victoria is in stark contrast to the position taken in NSW following the recent overturn of the greyhound racing ban. Are we the only ones who can see a conflict of interest between RSPCA NSW campaigning to end greyhound racing while also being assigned the role of animal welfare watchdog by government?

The process surrounding duck season setting remains a problem. Despite record rainfall, recovering wetland ecosystems and significant breeding by late October we still have no certainty. In the US, the 2017 season is set a year in advance.

Change is happening elsewhere, why not in Australia too?

This year FGA, supported by respected scientists such as Dr Richard Kingsford, has advocated that habitat is the key factor in waterfowl populations, not hunting yet we continue to see a reliance on the same long-used processes that only serves to deliver late decisions, confuses the issues, and aren’t supported by data and science designed for game management.

The problem will only be resolved when those charged with making the decisions that affect us finally start to listen.

Thanks to the support of our members’ and your donations; the equivalent of three packets of steel hunting loads from every member will make a real difference as we lobby for the future of duck hunting.

It’s been an incredibly busy three months, and this issue of Field & Game magazine brings you news on the many initiatives we’ve been working on for you.

We held our 14th annual clay target event for State, Territory and Federal politicians’ and their teams, a successful day that allowed us to showcase the shotgun shooting sports and the FGA Willowmavin ground near Kilmore.

You can read about our 2016 National Carnival in this issue. Sincere thanks goes to all the hard-working Pinegrove committee members and volunteers, and the fabulous support of our many sponsors and friends.

It is also an important way to show local communities that the shooting sports are significant and growing.

The Victorian government recognised this with $12 million through the Shooting Sports Facilities Program, generating an unprecedented level of infrastructure upgrades at branches.

We sincerely thank all those involved in making this possible.

See you with a gun in hand on a Simulated Field shooting ground.

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