Recreation

A comprehensive economic study identifying the benefits of outdoor recreations including prospecting, fishing, four wheel driving, hunting, camping and equine activities.

The absence of a comprehensive study on these activities means the Government is making decisions without important information.  For example, a report produced by Grow Boating Australia and the Boating Industry Association (BIA) demonstrates that each $1m of economic activity in the boating sector generates an additional 15 jobs.  Not only that but boating, fishing, shooting, four-wheel driving and equine activities provide other benefits such as environmental, physical and psychological.

The degree of community participation in activities such as off-road biking, fishing, boating and four-wheel driving is seriously understated.  Just look at how many times each year the Melbourne Exhibition Centre is booked out for those activities.

There needs to be an overall strategy to recognise and promote the benefits of these activities.

 Hunting

We believe that when conducted in accordance with the principles of ‘fair chase’ and the regulations and applicable laws of the various states, hunting is a significant contributor to our economy, environment and social well-being.

Australia’s hunters and the organisations that represent them have a proud history of conservation and today many Australian states owe the existence and continued well-being of game reserves and game species to their research and habitat improvement efforts.

Game birds

ACP supports the continuation of waterfowl and quail seasons in those states where seasons are legislated.  We will advocate for the re-establishment of seasons in those states where hunting of these species is no longer permitted.

ACP would support and advocate for the adoption of an adaptive harvest management methodology as a basis for the sustainable management of game species.

ACP believes that a well regulated season with a set duration and bag limits is greatly preferable to shooting game bird species under pest mitigation programs.

Deer

Deer are esteemed as a game animal worldwide and deer hunting offers Australian hunters a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a pursuit that when well regulated is a significant contributor to many regional economies.

ACP is opposed to baiting or aerial culling of deer and instead believes that the use of recreational hunters should be the first option considered when addressing overpopulation of deer.

ACP notes the alarming lack of scientific research to inform the management of wild deer in Australia.  Game management should be based on research, not bias and emotion.

Pest animals

The hunting of pest species is one of many ways that Australian hunters have made a contribution to the conservation of our environment.  Hunting is a targeted method of control that is specific to the species hunted and unlike baiting and trapping, has no impact on non-targeted species.

ACP believes that there should be a greater effort by state government to utilise hunting organisations within parks and reserves where hunting is not currently permitted as a means of controlling pest animals.  Previous trials have clearly demonstrated that this practice, when well-managed, is both safe and effective.

Recreational Fishing 

ACP will guarantee existing funded fishing programs including the Recreational Fishing Initiative, expand fishing programs, support the mutual recognition of interstate fishing licences and allow recreational fishing activities to occur in marine parks from the beach and on privately registered boats, without the use of anchors.  We oppose the creation of new marine parks.

In Victoria, an Ernst & Young study estimated the value of the recreational fishing sector to be worth in excess of $2bn in economic value to the state.  Yet the largest Victorian government investment into fishing is $16m over 4 years.  In other words, the government invests only 0.2% towards the value of the sector.  ACP supports the expansion of funding for fishing opportunities.

We do not support netting in bays and inlets.

Access

There has been an increasing trend towards locking out the public from parks as a management tool.  Access to National and State Parks is a right of all Australians and should be maintained 24/7 as much as possible.  Locking the public out of public land is a serious matter and deprivation of personal liberty and as such should be a tool of last resort used only in extreme cases.

In the majority of cases the reason gates are being installed and locked is for breaches of the criminal code (drunken behaviour, littering, vandalism, etc.).  DEWLP and Parks Victoria’s role is to manage these lands in the best way possible under the current government provisions, their officers should not enforce the law but they are there to report offences to the police.

  1. A request needs to be referred to a magistrate.
  2. A permit needs to be issued by a magistrate and it needs to state i) what other measures have been taken or considered, ii) the reason the other measures have not/will not work, iii) what times the gates will be locked and iv) the duration of the lockout, not to exceed 12 months after which another permit needs to be obtained.
  3. Police, CFA, Ambulance and SES need to be advised.
  4. Police, CFA, Ambulance and SES have the authority to cut the lock if needed during an emergency.

DEWLP and Parks Victoria can avail themselves of security measures such as a register of who goes in and out of the parks, security guards, surveillance equipment, signs, etc.

Prospecting

We support the continuation of minimum impact prospecting in our state and national parks and public land. Minimum impact prospecting is defined in http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/visit/popular-activities/fossicking. Responsible gold prospecting is a good use of our land, it has a very low impact on the environment and wins wealth from the soil. It is an important part of the economy in some parts of Victoria and for some towns, it is entirely responsible for keeping them viable.

Underage Off-Road Motorcycle Permits.

Australian Country Party will seek the introduction of a recreational motorbike licence to enable 14 to 18 year-olds to work on the land (complying with WorkCover requirements) and participate in recreational motorbike activities organised by recognised clubs and under the supervision of a fully licensed motorbike rider.

Current arrangements do not permit this, and there is a need to fill this void.  The licence would apply only to those areas where ‘recreational motorcycle registration’ applies (such as forest roads), under the supervision of fully licensed riders in a club environment, and would not permit the use of motorbikes on roads normally used by the public.

The licence would limit the riding of motorbikes approved under the Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme.