This morning on Radio National Breakfast, Fran Kelly interviewed Robert Brown from the NSW Shooters’ Party about a private member’s bill that he plans to introduce into the upper house of the NSW Parliament. The crux of the bill is that it removes some of the discrepancies in NSW law relating to hunters performing pest control, it would extend to National Parks the same system that presently exists, quite successfully, in State Forests and give farmers more choice about how they managed kangaroo culls on their own properties. What sounded like a fairly straight forward piece of legislation, that can only be successful with the support of the government, really seemed to raise Fran’s ire.
From the start of the interview Fran sounded hostile, a fact not lost on her guest, who sounded increasingly frustrated with her seeming indifference to his answers. Every question asked was answered in a straight forward manner, without obfuscation, in fact it was a great pleasure to hear an elected representative being so open about a policy position. Despite that, Fran seemed entirely unwilling to concede that any good may come of allowing hunters to destroy pests in National Parks, she refused to accept that killing feral animals was a genuine conservation initiative and then bizarrely dismissed the entire idea because the hunters hadn’t killed enough feral animals to make a difference in the areas that they were allowed access to.
Hunters aren’t a group that elicit a lot of sympathy in the general community, most people’s ideas are probably formed by what they see on the cover of magazines like Bacon Busters or Wild Boar Australia at their newsagents, but the reality is that, like any group, hunters are a diverse group with a variety of interests. Popular culture might paint hunters as backwards rednecks, but I would have expected Fran Kelley to be a little more open minded and professional.
I wonder how much of Fran’s attitude towards hunters comes from ignorance? Even in rural areas hunting is not a high profile activity, so I can only imagine that for people living and working in metropolitan centres the very idea of hunting would be something quite foreign. The reality is that the majority of people who hunt for sport are quite committed to it, spend a lot of time and money equipping themselves to do it properly and take great care when using firearms. Those who hunt on a commercial basis approach the sport with an enormous amount of professionalism and operate within a well regulated system.
Whether this bill goes anywhere will depend entirely upon the NSW government, but I hope that if they do decide to seriously look at it that the level of discourse is a little better than what was delivered on Radio National this morning.
Take a listen for yourself