Author Topic: Game Council under fire for licensing children to hunt 5.3.2013  (Read 516 times)

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Game Council under fire for licensing children to hunt 5.3.2013
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2013, 09:24:47 AM »

Game Council under fire for licensing children to hunt     THERE are claims hundreds of children as young as 12 who have been shooting feral animals on public land in NSW since 2002 have been doing so illegally, raising fresh concerns about the capacity of the NSW Game Council to supervise a new program of amateur hunting in national parks.

The NSW Coalition government is so concerned over the suggestions, Police Minister Mike Gallacher yesterday sought urgent advice from NSW police on whether junior hunting permits, which are issued by the council under the game act, are in contravention of the firearms act.

If this is the case, minors between 12 and 18 have been exposed to potential criminal charges that carry sentences of up to five years' detention.

Such a result would compound the Game Council's problems less than a week after NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell announced the organisation would be subjected to a full review to ensure "appropriate governance".
According to the NSW firearms act, minors may possess or use a gun only "for the purpose of receiving instruction in the safe use of the firearm, or competing in such events as are approved by the NSW police commissioner".

NSW upper house Greens MP David Shoebridge said last night: "The issuing of junior permits would appear on the face of it to be a blatant contravention of the firearms act."

However, a spokesman for Mr Gallacher said: "The advice from police is that the Game Council can issue a restricted licence to a minor's permit holder for the purposes of receiving instruction under the supervision of a fully qualified adult.

"The minister takes the firearms act to intend a minor's permit should only be used for training purposes, not recreational purposes."

The review of the Game Council followed revelations the suspended acting head of the organisation, Greg McFarland, was being investigated by police over an alleged illegal hunting incident last year near Cobar, in central western NSW.

The review means a controversial plan to extend to 79 national parks the amateur hunting program that exists in state forests and is supervised by the Game Council has been put on hold.

Last year alone, the council issued more than 400 junior permits, which allow minors accompanied by an adult to hunt for feral animals using guns, bows or dogs.

Mr Shoebridge, who opposes amateur hunting in national parks, called on Mr O'Farrell to order the council to cease issuing the permits immediately.

"The Game Council is meant to be a statutory authority, but this latest revelation proves that it is little more than a taxpayer-funded hunting lobby group with minimal understanding of the law," he said. "When children are out hunting in state forests, they are there for the purpose of killing animals, not for instruction. That means they are almost certainly breaking the law.

"Putting the Game Council in charge of hunting is like putting a fox in charge of a hen house."

A spokeswoman for the council said the game act did not override the firearms act.