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“No frills” State budget delivers funding for the Great Outdoors Taskforce, honours commitment to duck hunting and offers a reprieve for the fox bounty

“No frills” State budget delivers funding for the Great Outdoors Taskforce, honours commitment to duck hunting and offers a reprieve for the fox bounty

SSAA Victoria joined other special interest groups in the “budget lockup” yesterday to be briefed by the Premier, the Deputy Premier, the Assistant Treasurer and Government officials on the 2024 Victorian State Budget.

As widely anticipated, this was a “no frills” budget that served very much as a reset for a Government coming out of the COVID era and facing an election in two years with a new Premier.

The future management of public land is a ‘hot button’ issue for hunters, with a VEAC investigation into the Central Highlands putting access for deer hunting (notably hound hunting) under a cloud. SSAA Victoria was encouraged by the announcement of a “Great Outdoors Taskforce” five weeks ago. The taskforce will conduct a more holistic and strategic review of public land use in Victoria. Minister Dimopoulos said at the time, “The end of native timber harvesting presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to design new ways of caring for our forests while giving Victorians more opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors”. Yesterday’s budget reinforces this commitment by funding the new taskforce. The budget papers reiterate that hunting access is a key part of the new taskforce’s scope.

In late January, the Government announced that duck hunting would continue in Victoria under changed conditions, including implementing an adaptive harvest model to set seasons and introducing some new rules for hunters. The budget supported this commitment with allocations totalling $12 million over the next three years.

The budget also offers a reprieve for the fox bounty program, extending funding until 30 June 2025.

Numerous programs that have previously supported shooting and hunting in Victoria either were not continued or not renewed in the State Budget.

The Shooting Sports Facilities Program, which provided much-needed infrastructure funding for shooting clubs across the State, has now completely exhausted its funding with no new allocations.

The second Sustainable Hunting Action, funded from 2020 to 2024, has also reached the end of its life, as has the deeply flawed and controversial Deer Control Strategy.

As the leading shooting and hunting organisation in Victoria, SSAA Victoria takes an active role in the State Budget process, working with Ministers and Departments annually to advocate for budget initiatives to support shooting and hunting. The Association will continue to advocate for funding for shooting sports facilities for all clubs, for proactive initiatives such as the Sustainable Hunting Action Plan and for programs that bring society and the shooting and hunting communities closer together, such as the Hunters for the Hungry program.