A guide to getting your voice heard on the proposal to take away nearly 80,000ha of hunting land in the central west
The Victorian Environmental Assessment Council’s (VEAC) disastrous recommendation to decimate hunting land in Victoria’s central west is waiting for a decision by government.
But there is still time to let MPs who will consider the recommendation know about the impact turning 80,000ha of state forest into National Park will have on the hunting communities around Bendigo and Ballarat.
VEAC delivered its Central West Investigation Final Report in June after a request for the investigation by Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio in 2017.
The report focused on the Mount Cole (Pyrenees), Wombat (Macedon) and Wellsford (Bendigo) State Forests.
During the public consultation process SSAA Victoria and other hunting organisations made submissions which highlighted the importance of hunting in those areas.
But hunters appear to have been ignored in the Final Report which proposes to shut them out of 77,277ha of public land.
SSAA Victoria has requested an urgent meeting with Minister D’Ambrosio to again highlight the impact the Final Report’s recommendations would have on the hunting community.
We are also seeking meetings with other Cabinet Ministers to ensure our wheel squeaks. But it will squeak much louder with your input.
If the VEAC recommendations affect your ability to hunt or otherwise use the State Forest areas which would be locked up, then raise it with your Lower and Upper House MPs.
Find who your representatives are by putting your postcode into the www.parliament.vic.gov.au/about/electorates and request a meeting with them. By meeting with them, you show that you are truly concerned and that carries a lot of weight when it comes to politicians making decisions.
Meeting a member of parliament guidelines
- Be respectful! Dress appropriately and treat your MP with common courtesy. If you go in with threats of not voting for them in the next election or telling them you pay their wages, your message will be lost.
- Keep it short and to the point. An MP’s time is short and if you’ve managed to get a meeting, you have been given a great opportunity so don’t waste it.
- Be clear about your concerns. There is nothing worse than going in without properly understanding the issue, so read the Final Report and be clear on what parts concern you. Prepare for the meeting with a document that has bullet points about your key concern/s to leave with the Member.
- Share the results. If you’ve managed to get into the meeting, share it on our Facebook page to encourage more to act. And send your summary document to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can raise your concerns in our meetings in Parliament. If you don’t get a positive response to a meeting request, let us know too, so we can show we tried.
- The VEAC Central West Investigation Final Report incorrectly classifies hunting as “consumptive use” alongside forestry and mining.
- Hunters support good conservation outcomes and provide cost-effective pest management on public land. Denying hunters access promotes the prevalence of pest species which directly impacts native flora and fauna.
- Deer should be managed to control the population and the Final Report takes away a highly effective deer management tool.
- Hunting adds $439 million each year to the Victorian economy and much of that money is spent in regional areas. Reducing hunting opportunities robs regional communities of hunting tourism revenue.
Write a letter
The other way to get your message across is by writing a letter, preferably as an email (MPs are not required to respond to handwritten or posted letters despite what you might have heard).
We have prepared a sample letter to help you write your own. Please use the issues identified in your letter if you wish, but do not copy and paste the content. Your own words are much more powerful.
Some things to note:
- Get your MP’s name and title right. Spell their name correctly and apply their honorific (eg: The Hon. Bill Bloggs MP to show you’ve taken due consideration and want to be taken seriously. As in the meeting guidelines, be respectful and avoid threats so your message isn’t discarded.
- Include your address. It proves you are in the elected representative’s seat which carries more weight.
- Be specific. Raise specific points (bullet points are best) and if you can, point to the exact part of the Final Report which concerns you.
- Keep it brief. If your letter is more than one A4 page (about 300 words), then it is less likely to be read. MPs get tonnes of letters so give yourself the best chance of being heard by being short and sweet.