Regulator ‘failed to deliver’

By Country News

Victoria’s hunting regulator could be overhauled or scrapped after a report revealed widespread non-compliance by duck hunters.

The shooting of hundreds of protected birds at the Koorangie State Game Reserve near Kerang at the start of the 2017 duck hunting season sparked an investigation, with the report finding the Game Management Authority had not effectively fulfilled its compliance and enforcement responsibilities.

‘‘While many hunters are responsible and respect the game hunting laws, non-compliance with game hunting laws is commonplace and widespread,’’ the review by Pegasus Economics found.

‘‘The GMA is widely perceived by its internal stakeholders and its own staff as unable either to ensure compliance with the game hunting laws, or to effectively sanction offenders when those laws are breached.

‘‘By any standard, the GMA has failed to deliver on its responsibility to enforce the hunting laws.’’

The Victorian Government says a pending review of the GMA will consider whether it should be overhauled or dumped.

‘‘Last year was the first real test of the Game Management Authority’s effectiveness as a regulator since it was set up (in 2014),’’ Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford said on Friday.

‘‘In my opinion, the GMA did not pass this test,’’ she said.

The report also found the authority put too much focus on managing protesters as opposed to policing hunters.

At least 260 protected birds were shot and more than 1000 duck bodies were dumped during the opening weekend of the 2017 hunting season, the GMA said in its annual report released late last year.

Ms Pulford said additional compliance measures had been put in place ahead of the 2018 duck hunting season, beginning on March 17, alongside regulations to make it easier to detect hunters doing the wrong thing.

Animals Australia, who obtained and released a copy of the leaked report, slammed the authority and called on the government to cancel this year’s duck shooting season, labelling it the ‘‘only one responsible course of action’’.