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SSAA Victoria News

Put the pressure on Keenan, again

Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan today revealed that he was unaware of changes to the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) outside of the lever-action shotgun alterations. The 2017 National Firearms Agreement was published on the Attorney-General’s Department website in February without an announcement. The new document contained dozens of changes, including:
  • Obtaining a licence for an ‘occupational’ interest has changed from “genuine reason” to “genuine need”.
  • The removal of Category C and D firearms from occupational/professional shooters would restrict professional pest culling operations or make them ineffective.
  • In the 1996 Agreement the word ‘must’ is used 15 times and in the 2002 Agreement six times. In the 2017 Agreement the word is used 58 times.
  • The effect of the change would bring about corresponding mandatory change in the state and territory jurisdictions. In most cases the jurisdictions have addressed the risk or intent of the current sections in slightly different ways.
The release of the new document came after 18 months of hot debate between anti-gun campaigners and responsible firearm owners. The antis’ debate was shrouded in misinformation and emotive rhetoric. A response to the Sydney Siege Inquiry, the NFA review was supposed to “simplify the regulation of the legal firearms market through an update of the technical elements of the National Firearms Agreement”. Minister Keenan said the only changes to the NFA would be “those which enabled the re-classification of lever-action shotguns; the consolidation of the 1996 National Firearms Agreement and the 2002 National Handguns Agreement (Consolidated Resolutions) into one document; and changes necessary in the light of technological developments”. But he told the Firearms Industry Reference Group – which includes SSAA National – that he was unaware of the many other changes. It appears Minister Keenan has allowed himself to be dictated to by bureaucrats. Now he must make changes to the NFA to ensure he is fulfilling his original commitment. SSAA Victoria is calling on all members to write to Minister Keenan and remind him of how influential the sports shooting community is. It’s time to again put the pressure on. Remember, be polite, use your own words and remind him of how important your votes are. POSTAL ADDRESS: PO Box 989, Innaloo, WA 6918 TELEPHONE: 08 9445 3222 FAX: 08 9445 2866 EMAIL: Michael.Keenan.MP@aph.gov.au

Duck opening enforcement ... Where was it?

The Game Management Authority (GMA) has announced the closure of Koorangie Game Reserve, west of Kerang. Koorangie State Game Reserve comprises Lake Bael and First, Second and Third Marsh (collectively known as the Marshes). The closure took effect from Saturday, March 25. Unfortunately, in all walks of life there are people who do the wrong thing. As we are constantly pointing out, duck hunters are a diverse group of people who do come from all walks of life. As with any large group there will be some who will act contrary to the accepted ethics and traditions, as well as the law. We only have to look at some of the anti-social behaviour going on around us every day to see that this is a widespread problem across society. Hoons on the roads; kids having brawls in shopping centres; and gate crashers rioting at parties are all images seen on an all-too-regular basis on the nightly news and all reflecting illegal and anti-social behaviour. We all understand that this is not representative of the vast majority and that most people are not involved in this type of behaviour. The facts remain that the vast majority of duck hunters are decent, honest, responsible and law-abiding people. The incidents on the week-end reflect the elements of the hunting scene that are none of these things. The non-hunting public needs to understand that genuine hunters are just as sickened and angered by illegal and unethical hunting behaviour as they are. In fact, they are angrier. Hunters realise that their lifestyle and traditions are under threat and that these criminals are actively helping the antis put nails in the coffin of duck hunting in this state. SSAA understands the limitations of GMA’s enforcement capabilities. GMA officers cannot cover every wetland in the state and we do not expect them to. What we do expect is that they make a genuine and concerted effort to stamp out illegal behaviour. SSAA will wholeheartedly support the enforcement of current legislation and the allocation of sufficient resources to achieve that objective. It is not good enough for GMA to wash its hands of its duties and say that hunters simply need to self-regulate. Information to hand indicates that the vast bulk of GMA’s enforcement effort on the week-end went into dealing with protestors, as it does most duck openings. Perhaps the anti-duck hunting protestors might reflect on how many ducks may have been saved if enforcement officers were out in the swamps. Charging illegal hunters and confiscating their firearms on the spot would have a much greater and more immediate effect on protecting non-game species than all the protestors’ antics. Of course, this action would not satisfy the protestors’ insatiable desire for publicity for their cause and would not make sense in their ideologically-driven world view. Perhaps GMA needs to reflect on this approach as well. Instead of closing areas,  a targeted operation and some arrests might send a message to all hunters. Those doing the right thing will be heartened that something positive is being done to support them. Those doing the wrong thing might pause to consider that unlawful activity will have consequences. Instead of blaming all hunters for illegal behaviour, there needs to be a real enforcement effort to target those doing the wrong thing. SSAA, along with other hunting organisations, educate members on legal and ethical hunting behaviour. We constantly encourage members to do the right thing and have codes of conduct that our members agree to comply with. We work very hard to encourage legal and ethical behaviour and we speak for those doing the right thing. However, we don’t make the legislation and we do not have any enforcement powers. It is up to the authorities to show all those hunters who are doing the right thing that they can have confidence in GMA’s law enforcement. Hunters would also like to see the law upheld in relation to protesters dumping dead ducks in a public place. As hunters, if we had a protected species in our possession, regardless of the reason, there is no doubt we would be charged. How can protestors have birds in their possession then dump them in a public place and incur no penalty? Is this saying that if you don’t agree with a law you can break it and nothing will be done? It is understandable that many hunters feel that there are double-standards at work here. It would be heartening to see the authorities release a press statement condemning protestors for their actions. Once again, SSAA calls upon its members to hunt with RESPECT and to report any illegal behaviour that they witness.

Take particular care at Lake Cooper

Freckled duck have been sighted at Lake Cooper at Corop in the State's north.

Game Management Authority has warned hunters to ensure they positively identify their target. Significant penalties apply for hunters taking Freckled duck. Hunting's future depends on you. Hunters seeing illegal activity are asked to immediately report it to CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000.

Hunting seasons fast approaching

Duck opening weekend is now behind us and, while SSAA Victoria members are still talking about the season, some of their attention has turned to the other game species seasons in Victoria. Saturday, April 1 is a big day on the Victorian hunting calendar, with seasons for quail, Hog deer and the hunting of Sambar deer with scent trailing hounds commencing. Only hunters with Game Licences endorsed for deer (stalking) can hunt Hog deer during the season, which runs until April 30. SSAA Victoria would like to remind members that in order to hunt Hog deer they will need tags – available only through Game Management Authority (GMA) online. The tags will be posted out, so anyone hoping to hunt early in the season should order them now. The bag limit is one stag and one hind for the season and successful hunters must present their animal/s to a checking station. Details are provided in the information pack that accompanies the tags. Hunters are also required to complete a hunter return form at the end of the season and send it to GMA. The quail bag limit is 20 birds per day and Game Licences must be endorsed for game birds to hunt these challenging (and tasty) little rockets. Good luck to all those who get out in the paddocks and stubble before June 30 in search of them. While there are no bag limits for hunting Sambar deer with scent-trailing hounds, hunters must have their Game Licence endorsed for deer (hounds). To get that endorsement, they must sit a test that covers legislation and welfare considerations. The season concludes on November 30, but closes for Easter this year from April 14 to 19. Deer (except Hog deer) stalking is open year-round for people who have Game Licences endorsed for deer (stalking). No tests have to be sat to receive that endorsement. Duck season does continue until June 12. Many members will make the most of the full season and 10-bird limit this year. The SSAA Victoria State Office would love to hear about successful hunts, so feel free to email us at state_office@ssaavic.com.au or call 03 8892 2777 and let us know how your hunting is going. Whatever you hunt, enjoy yourselves, be safe and hunt with RESPECT.
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