"Investigative journalism at its worst"
If you have any rural or hunting background and happened to see the story on Four Corners last night (10 June 2012), you would have witnessed ABC gutter journalism at its finest.
This blog will investigate the issues with the report to help you better understand that your tax payer funded ABC has been overrun with fanatical "Greens" who have infiltrated this media organisation in order to spread their political lies.
The intent of the program was to shed light on the growth of recreational hunting and political muscle that is driving the demand in NSW for access to more land for public hunting. The land being some 33 national parks, 29 nature reserves and 15 state conservation areas of our total 882 National Parks.
As a hunter with more than 30 years experience, I was excited to watch and looked forward to a positive story that will encourage people to learn the truth about hunting. I was and am still hoping some will want to become hunters to help society yet again appreciate where their food comes from.
None the less, I was very disappointed. All the sound points raised by responsible hunters was flanked either side with fear mongering paranoid rhetoric about bullets whizzing over peoples heads, unsubstantiated claims about licensed hunters acting illegally, blokes shooting everything that moves, further reminders about a mass murderer from 17 years ago and rubbish claims about our firearms laws being watered down so guns are easier than ever to obtain.
Lets explore the sensationalism, inaccurate claims, half trues and lies that programs like Today Tonight and A Current Affair are renowned for.
CLAIM: The NSW Premier has given them go ahead to hunt in the States 77 National Parks and reserves.
FACT: The claim asserts hunters will get access to all National Parks across NSW, however there are over 882 National parks in NSW. Hunters will get access to just 33 of these. Many of these 33 are larger parks where only 1 hunter will be allowed per 400 hectares. Hunters can hunt in pairs though for safety reasons."
SENSATIONALISM: Mention the death of one hunter back in 1994 prior to the Game Council coming into existence.
RELEVANCE: Since the Game Council regulatory body began issuing permits to hunt on public land in 2006, there has not been a single death or shooting injury by an 'R' licensed hunter.
The report makes no mention that well regulated public land hunting in National Parks is and has always been legal in Victoria and South Australia. Under the Bob Carr Government, the same Government that approved the Game Council in the first place, there was always a plan to allow regulated hunting in National Parks. The Labor government were just slow to make it happen after declaring hundreds of new National Parks in the 90's. This was land we were previously allowed to hunt on, but is now infested with feral pigs, goats, rabbits, foxes, cats and deer - invasive species that do untold damage to our native flora and fauna, thanks successful lobbying by the Greens to lock it and leave it all these years.
Hunting on public land was finally legal again in 2006, and while the Game Council were feverishly zoning state forests and crown lands to have the permit system up and running, we hunters anticipated when those areas were zoned, we could move onto National parks and other reserves. Unfortunately disunity in the Labor government and multiple changes of leadership by an incompetent party in bed with the Greens lead to hunting in National Parks never getting the rubber stamp approval. The media have been desperately claiming a 'dirty deal' has been done simply because a minority party, that now happens to hold the balance of power, is simply trying to be accountable by delivering to their constituents. Heaven forbid a political party that actually delivers results and is getting NSW moving again. All this despite amnesia that it was the Labor party who originally pushed for the power sell off and this much needed money was then and still is now needed to invest in our States ailing assets thanks to years of neglect, incompetence and debt by Labor.
Since recreational hunting has never been shown to be a danger in Victoria and South Australia, why would this model be so dangerous now? Are NSW National Parks that much different to those in Victoria? Why would the ABC want to instill all this fear into Australians who are already so tightly wrapped up in cotton wool? Ratings perhaps? We'll get to that in the next blog.......
The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine completed a study in 2012 illustrating hunting and shooting are some of the safest recreational activities we Australians enjoy. Water sports were the most dangerous.
The report analysed hunting deaths on public and private land between 2000-2012, a total of 17 relating to a firearm, compared with 1156 from swimming, fishing, scuba diving, surfing, snorkeling, rock fishing, diving, water‐skiing and wind surfing.
Bushwalkers have launched a campaign against hunting in National Parks citing safety issues, but there isn't a single case on record across Australia I can find when a hunter had accidentally shot a bush walker. The claims of bullets hitting homes and whizzing over peoples heads just aren't stacking up. Maybe they just have an irrational fear of firearms and will say anything to protect the motherland and their beloved Greens.... or is that Reds? I would have thought hunting deer that breed naturally in our native forests would be far more sustainable than factory farming or raising cattle that release all that harmful methane. The German Greens support hunting on 1/20 of the land of Australia with 4 times the population.
If you told the Germans you could only have 1 permit per 400 hectares to hunt on they be laughing in your face suggesting how completely absurd that is.
SENSATIONALISM: Claims of illegal hunting and video footage dating back to 26 January 2013.
INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM: Zero.
I have been in touch with the Game Council. They advised no report was ever lodged of this activity. Despite having the licence plate, no police report was ever filed and no investigation took place.
Regarding the interview with the Game Council spokesperson re: the 30 other incidents raised, this was the response.
GAME COUNCIL: "They expected me to have detailed knowledge of every incident there and then. All they gave me was topics. They laid into me for a hour and showed about 50 seconds. Game Council are aware of a number of the issues but most of them occurred pre Game Council by unlicensed hunters. They never got back to me with their list so I could not respond as had promised."
SENSATIONALISM: Suggestions there is no requirement for the Game Council to test firearms marksmanship.
FACT: Firearms licenses are approved before being issued by NSW Police. A safety certificate must be issued by an approved hunting club along with the firearms licence application. The Game Council are not responsible for this process. It would be redundant duplicating the efforts made by police approved hunting clubs.
SENSATIONALISM: Associating 800,000 law abiding firearms owners with the actions of one individual in Port Arthur 17 years ago. Statements from ex-politicians claiming relaxing firearms laws will take us down a slippery slope which will lead to another massacre.
FACT: Prior to 1996, firearms licensing and background checks were practically non existent in Tasmania.
Since then, every State conducts a Federal background and criminal history check. Anyone not deemed a fit and proper person due to a history of mental health, domestic violence etc would not be issued a firearms licence. Police routinely cancel licenses and reacquire firearms from license holders who no longer meet eligibility requirements.
The Shooters and Fishers Party are not advocating removing background checks or safe storage requirements of firearms.
FACT: Despite 700,000 firearms being handed in after the 1996 buyback, most of these were owned by a deceased family member (Grand dads old shot gun in the cupboard). Of all the firearms handed in, only 3.2% were centre-fire semi-automatic.
CLAIM: 18 amendments have been put through by the Shooters and Fishers to make it easier to get a gun.
FACT: The Shooters and Fishers party have removed unnecessary supplementary red tape that should have never been included in the NSW State legislation in the first place. The State legislation does not breach any of the National Firearms Agreement that was introduced by John Howard. . The criminal background checks are still the same and the waiting periods are also still the same.
FACT: The majority of firearms legislation focuses on the firearm itself, not the character of the individual that owns it for a lawful purpose or safe storage and handling.
The Melbourne Institute released a working paper on "The Australian Firearms Buyback and Its Effect on Gun Deaths"
A comprehensive study of the laws concluded "Although gun buybacks appear to be a logical and sensible policy that helps to placate the public’s fears, the evidence so far suggests that in the Australian context, the high expenditure incurred to fund the 1996 gun buyback has not translated into any tangible reductions in terms of firearm deaths."
INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING: Rather than investigating the behavior of unregulated illegal hunters, the program tarred all hunters with the same brush, despite not having any evidence of any illegal behavior by a Game Council 'R' licence holder not already under investigation.
No mention of the problems associated with illegal hunting / poaching and potentially large stocks of up to 1,500,000 unregistered firearms in circulation.
No mention it's compulsory to be a member of an approved hunting club which provides practical hunter education. Clubs help new shooters buy the right firearm to suit them, teach them how to sight it in and how to use it safely as part of their training an membership. It's not uncommon from the time you first book in your firearms safety training, to then obtaining your first firearm, to take a minimum of six months. Game Council licensing can be done in parallel with this process, but unfortunately the hunter needs to then change his firearms licence to include the genuine reason 'Recreational Hunting' on his licence prior to being legally allowed to hunt on public land. The initial application and club membership will only support 'Target Shooting' at a club initially. Four compulsory annual club attendances are also required to maintain that membership and genuine reason 'Recreational Hunting'.
INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING: No talk about the personal agenda of professional shooters and trappers who don't want to lose lucrative government contracts to continue trapping invasive species.
The Victoria National Parks Association recently paid professional shooters, from New Zealand, $42,000 to cull 23 goats. A job that could be done for free by recreational shooters by accepting and promoting a culture of hunting.
There was also no mention in the Four Corners story of the recent auditor generals report on the failings of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
No mention about the fanatical animal liberation movement who have known to constantly lie for their own personal agenda - an agenda to convert everyone to Vegan. These extremists find hunters a far easier target than factory farmers and have been known to make completely hysterical claims.
"The wild inaccuracies of anti duck hunting campaigner Lauie Levy cannot go unaddressed" - The Hon Peter Ryan, Minister for Justice, Victoria.
Read the Game Council media release by clicking here...
CONCLUSION: A sloppy report by a tired veteran reporter. Very disappointing Kerry O'Brien.
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