THE trigger has jammed on the controversial plan to allow hunting in national parks from March 1, a development welcomed by Shoalhaven Greens councillor Amanda Findley.
The Premier called a halt to the introduction of hunting in national parks, ordering a review into the organisation overseeing it, after initial investigations found evidence suggesting an employee was engaged in illegal activity.
He told Parliament on Thursday he had ordered the review of governance at the Game Council NSW after an investigation into alleged illegal hunting by two of its senior employees on a property in outback NSW.
The introduction of hunting in national parks now has been delayed until at least June.
“I think the O’Farrell mob is starting to buckle under the pressure,” Cr Findley said.
“I think it’s really great that they’ve finally woken up to do an investigation of the Game Council.
“At least this puts it off, until well after the Easter holiday break.
“It will be really good if it takes six months to investigate this.
“I originally called for Morton National Park to be excluded because it’s a high visitation park, with multiple entries.
“The Game Council has used its power to have spotlighting for deer banned, which meant that a cull program for the Illawarra has been put on ice, so this year there will be less of a reduction in deer numbers that are damaging national parks.”
She said the government was clearly beginning to see all the problems with the legislation.
“The legislation is bad. We create parks as sanctuaries not as hunting grounds.
“In the Shoalhaven hunters have plenty of scope. We have so much state forest and so much private property.
“The other ludicrous thing is that Barry’s cutting public service left right and centre and pandering to the Game Council.
“I believe they are planning to spend $19 million on signage for this.”
She also criticised the government’s proposed zoning to regulate park use, saying it was seriously flawed.
In January Fairfax Media revealed that police were investigating Andy Mallen and Greg McFarland over claims they crossed a national park and onto private property in a council vehicle and killed a goat.
Mr Mallen, a game manager with the council, was later cleared of wrongdoing and reinstated after supplying proof to police that he was in Sydney at the time of the alleged incident.
But Mr McFarland, who was the council’s communications manager and acting chief executive, was the subject of continuing investigations.
A senior public servant, Steve Dunn, has been engaged to review governance of the council and report back by May 31.
On Monday a draft document was leaked, revealing that the Office of Environment and Heritage was considering allowing hunters to use silencers on firearms to reduce the disturbance to park visitors.
Mr O’Farrell quickly ruled out the proposal, which would have required a loosening of prohibitions designed to prevent the silencers falling into criminal hands.