The O’Farrell Government has done the dirtiest of deals with the Shooters & Fishers Party to allow recreational amateur hunters into our national parks, nature reserves and state conservation areas. Among the first 79 parks in the firing line are Macquarie Marshes, Kosciuszko, Nightcap & Barrington Tops.
So many conservationists over so many decades have fought tooth and nail for the declaration of national parks, reserves and state conservation areas for wildlife conservation. They did not do so to see them become play grounds for recreational hunting.
You can contact the Premier and NSW Upper House MPs below to express your outrage at the deal and this unforgiveable attack on the integrity of National Parks.
On 13 April 2011 Barry O’Farrell told the NSW public “there will not be a decision to turn our national parks into hunting reserves”. He lied. When he needed the Shooter & Fisher Party votes for electricity privatisation he sold out national parks and he sold out public safety.
The O’Farrell Government is trying to pretend the new policy is about feral animal control when they know amateur hunting is not an effective way to control feral animals. In fact, the recreational hunting lobby, fronted by the Game Council, actively campaigns against effective feral animal control. For example, the Game Council has opposed the listing of feral deer as a ‘pest species’ to be eradicated wanting them to be maintained as a ‘game animal’ for recreational hunting instead.
Shooters MP Robert Borsak
On 19th July 2011 the Office of Environment and Heritage wrote to conservationists and said “Making national parks available for incompatible purposes like hunting threatens to undermine their value to existing users, including families and visitors to NSW….It is for these reasons that the NSW Government does not support hunting in national parks…..Where feral animals or native species need to be managed, for example, to mitigate damage to property or crops, regulatory provisions allow this to occur under strict controls”.
So, the Government knows full well this is a bad policy and they must not be allowed to get away with it.
Worse still, the Shooter’s legislation the O’Farrell passed though the parliament actually allows for hundreds of national parks to be added to be declared open to hunting. Of the 799 national parks and reserves in NSW only 48 have been expressly excluded from hunting in the legislation. The Premier says he has no intention of opening up more than the 79 he first announced, however, how can we trust him when only last year he said he wouldn’t turn any of our national parks into hunting reserves. Who knows what he will give away next time he needs the Shooters’ votes in parliament.
Letters to the Premier are needed to protest their deal, which will change the face of our National Parks forever. Use the email addresses below or the form at the bottom of this page.
Yes feral animals need to be controlled but amateur recreational hunting is not an effective way to do it (see below).
Public safety will be put at risk. Provisions in the legislation to notify the public are poor. Ask whether you will be excluded from your favourite parks when hunting takes place and for how long.
Animal welfare will be put at risk. There can be no assurances that amateur hunting will be humane.
The conservation of threatened species and breeding birds will be put at risk. Consider that internationally important wetlands and havens for birdlife like Macquarie Marshes and Myall Lakes will be open to shooting.
More than two million hectares of other public land, such as State Forests, are already accessible to hunters for their recreation.
The Public Services Association, representing the rangers that work in National Parks, is opposing the deal. They are worried about the safety of park rangers and the additional burden rangers will have to cope with to manage amateur hunters.
Why recreational hunting is not an effective way to control feral animals:
Feral animal control requires well-designed, sustained, targeted and humane eradication strategies. No mainstream conservation organisation supports recreational hunting for feral animal control. Even the Invasive Species Council, which campaigns specifically for effective feral animal control, rejects recreational hunting in National Parks because evidence shows that recreational ground hunting usually does not provide effective feral animal control and creates a serious risk of worsening feral animal problems.
Government codes of practice specify that ground shooting is ineffective to control most feral animals including foxes, pigs, goats and rabbits. This is because amateur recreational hunters are unable to kill feral animals in significant enough numbers. For a control program to reduce feral animal populations it needs to achieve a high annual rate of animals killed to exceed their natural rate of increase. For example, cat control may require more than 57% of a population to be killed and fox control more than 65%. For the rusa deer found from Royal National park to the NSW south coast, a 46% kill rate each year may be needed.
The Invasive Species Council has compiled statistics which show the number of feral animals killed by hunters between 2006 and 2008 amounted to less than two feral animals on average per licenced hunter and less than one animal killed per hunting day. Such trivial hunting rates contrast poorly with existing strategies such as aerial shooting where hundreds of animals are killed within hours, and will not assist genuine feral animal control in national parks.
Ad hoc recreational hunting can be counter productive to feral animal control. It can scare feral animals into new areas, make them increasingly wary to the efforts of professional shooters and can even increase localised feral animal breeding rates. For example, shooting low numbers of foxes can be futile because most young foxes do not live long unless an adult fox dies creating a vacancy for them to occupy. Shooting the occasional fox creates that vacancy! In most cases, killing one feral animal means that another will survive to take its place and population reduction is not achieved.
There are even well-founded suspicions that recreational hunters have introduced new feral animal populations to areas to create hunting opportunities. Researchers have found that “more than half the 218 feral deer herds in Australia identified in 2000 appear to have been derived from illegally translocated deer, presumably to create more hunting opportunities (there is no other likely explanation)” (Moriaty, A. 2004 The Liberation, Distribution, Abundance and Management of Wild Deer In Australia. wildlife Research 31: 291-99). The Game Council, the statutory body that represents recreational hunters does not support the listing of feral deer as a pest species for eradication. Instead they want deer classified as a game animal and promote a hunting strategy that would see healthy numbers of deer maintained.
Send a personal email or use the form below. Thank you. Together we need to fight this dirty deal with the Shooters & Fishers Party. Our National Parks are too important.
Greens MP Cate Faehrmann’s motion in support of marriage equality today passed the NSW Legislative Council. The House has called on the Commonwealth to enact marriage equality. A conscience vote was provided to Coalition and Labor party MPs, and the final vote was 22 to 16.
“This is a great day. I congratulate my NSW Upper House colleagues for their leadership. Today we are on the right side of history,” said Ms Faehrmann.
“Denying anyone the right to marry who they love is ludicrous. It’s last century and it’s time our Federal Parliament caught up. The NSW Legislative Council, Australia’s oldest House of Parliament, has shown great leadership in sending this clear message to the Commonwealth today.
“For the first time MPs from all major parties have joined together to vote in favour of marriage equality.
“Yes, this was a symbolic motion, but it is immensely significant. Today we have given voice to the majority of NSW citizens who don’t want our marriage laws to discriminate.
“Every single step towards full equality is to be welcomed and congratulated enthusiastically. I want to thank all of my colleagues who supported the motion, and acknowledge that for many, this was a very difficult motion to contend with.
“In the end, the arguments against marriage equality are based on personal and religious beliefs that have no place in our civil marriage laws. It’s time for full equality and the NSW Upper House has made that clear,” said Ms Faehrmann.
Media contact: Peter Stahel 0433 005 727
The successful motion (as amended) read as follows:
That this House:
(a) supports marriage equality
(b) calls on the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia to amend the Commonwealth Marriage Act 1961 to provide for marriage equality.
(c) notes that Article 18 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance”,
(d) calls on all participants in the debate on marriage equality to treat those with differing views with respect, dignity and tolerance, and
(e) calls for any amendment to the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) to ensure that religious institutions are not forced to solemnise marriages they do not wish to.
Greens MP Cate Faehrmann and environment spokesperson says the NSW Government’s refusal to allow a motion to extend the pipi harvesting moratorium to proceed, is seriously bad news for this iconic species and could mean the end of pipis found on NSW beaches.
“The 6 month pipi moratorium was a welcome reprieve, but now that’s set to be trashed with commercial harvesting opened up again from this Friday, June 1st.
“Meanwhile, the Shooters & Fishers Party, who say they are looking out for recreational fishers, also helped block the motion. Without this moratorium fishers will never be able to collect pipis on NSW beaches again, they’ll simply be wiped out.
“It is a matter of extreme urgency that this moratorium is extended in time and in scope, because stocks of this shellfish, which are an integral part of the food chains on our surf beaches, cannot have recovered to a level that will ensure sustainable populations of pipis can continue to exist into the long term.
“When the moratorium was imposed in December 2011 after a campaign from the Greens, stocks of the pipi had collapsed.
“Less than 6 months would not be adequate time for a new population of pipis to be established. The pipi requires a minimum of 10 months to reach about 3.7cm – which is under the minimum catch size of 4cm. They also need this time to reach sexual maturity and become capable of spawning. It’s obvious a 6 month moratorium is grossly inadequate for the population to recover sufficiently to ensure continuation of the generations.
“The government must extend the moratorium or risk losing the pipi forever,” said Ms Faehrmann.
Greens MP Cate Faehrmann and environment spokesperson has slammed Premier Barry O’Farrell for his deal with the Shooters Party that will see the integrity of NSW National Parks trashed and for breaking his promise not to allow hunting in National Parks.
“Today’s decision will change the face of National Parks forever. Barry O’Farrell has sold out the people of NSW with his broken promise that he won’t allow hunting in National Parks,” said Ms Faehrmann.
“The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) already has licensed hunters who undertake feral animal control in our national parks. If the government was serious about this they would pump more money in to NPWS so they could increase their targeted feral animal control efforts.
“The government says this is a logical extension of its existing feral animal control policy. This is nonsense. Extending hunting in National Parks to recreational hunters means the government has no control over the behaviour of shooters in National Parks.
“This is about recreational hunting and dirty deals, not genuine feral animal control.
“Scatter gun ad hoc recreational shooting outside of a targeted feral animal control programs is not an effective way to control feral animals.
“Included in the list of National Parks in the firing line are places like the Macquarie Marshes and Myall Lakes – havens for internationally protected water birds. What on earth does the Government think it is doing allowing trigger happy hunters into nature sanctuaries like this?
“The irony of this deal is that it was hunters who were responsible for introducing some of the worse feral animal problems to Australia (foxes and rabbits).
“This dirty deal is disgraceful and is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to attacks on National Parks expected to come from the Shooters – O’Farrell alliance,” said Ms Faehrmann.
Media contact: Peter Stahel 0433 005 727
Mr O’Farrell said on 13th April 2011:
“We have a mandate for the policies, programs and principles that we put forward [at the election.
“We have no intention of doing deals with the minor parties, to sell out those plans.
“There will not be a decision to turn our national parks into hunting reserves
(b) calls on the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia to amend the Commonwealth Marriage Act 1961 to provide for marriage equality.
I read the following email:
I am almost 70 and have been in a monogamous loving relationship for half my life. We have experienced many examples of discrimination over that time both commercially and legally. A few years back I was seriously ill in the local Catholic-run public private hospital. My other half told them he had been my partner for 30 years but they tried to deny him access because he was not related. It was not the first time. It is time we were treated equally before the law. We will be together for the rest of our lives. Our greatest wish is to marry before it’s too late.
This email is from Peter, one of the more than 2,000 emails members have received in recent weeks urging them to support this motion—a motion of great importance in moving this nation towards full equality for all people. The motion gives in-principle support for marriage equality and calls on the Commonwealth Parliament to amend the Marriage Act 1961 to provide for it—that is, to remove discrimination and allow people to marry regardless of sex, sexual orientation and gender. I have every confidence that this debate will be conducted with civility and thank members in advance for their careful consideration and respectful contributions.
I believe that as a Parliament and as legislators, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, friends and community members we need to acknowledge that marriage discrimination is having a real impact in the community and causing pain to many people by restricting what should be a most basic freedom: the freedom to marry the person you love. Marriage equality is not a Federal issue; it is a moral issue. The question before us is whether an individual should be discriminated against because of who they love. I firmly believe that this Parliament has an obligation to make representations to the Federal Parliament to give a voice to the majority of citizens in New South Wales who support marriage equality. This motion gives us that opportunity.
When the former Howard Government amended the Marriage Act in 2004 in a political manoeuvre to wedge the Labor Party, a renewed campaign for full equality was ignited. At that time a new definition was inserted into the Act to specifically exclude same-sex couples and to forbid Australia to recognise any same-sex marriage solemnised overseas. The country went backwards. Now fast forward to 2012 and we can be proud that we have come a long way and that this Parliament has been instrumental in removing most of the wall of discrimination that for so long has caused division, distress, violence and more. New South Wales can be very proud of its history of removing discriminatory laws, of being a leader in the areas of anti-discrimination legislation, adoption laws and relationship recognition.
In September last year the Tasmanian Parliament voted on a motion identical to this motion and it was passed. The motion was passed in a State whose equality law reform is much more recent than New South Wales. Today I hope that we join Tasmania in providing leadership to Australians on marriage discrimination. This motion should be seen as a significant step towards the removal of one of the last bricks in that wall of discrimination that this Parliament has so rightly and proudly dismantled over the years. How can this Parliament now not support calls for marriage equality when we accept that all families should have the legal protection provided by same-sex adoption legislation? How can it not support the rights of parents to marry, if that is their wish, or for the children in those families to know their parents’ love is just as rich and equal as the love of anyone else’s parents in their street or school?
If this motion passes it will be considered part of a natural progression of laws that removed all unjust discrimination. History shows society’s steady progress towards a more tolerant, fair and fully equal society with women securing the vote, the civil rights movement, First Australians being given the vote and the decriminalisation of homosexuality. There are currently three bills before the Federal Parliament to provide for marriage equality. These bills would bring Australia into line with countries such as Canada, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Spain, South Africa, Argentina, Mexico and a number of States in the United States of America. The sky has not fallen in any of these places and we know it will not when the motion is passed in Australia.
Some members have suggested to me that marriage discrimination is not a priority. I believe that if the community who is suffering the discrimination is shouting to Parliament that it is their priority, then it becomes a priority for their representatives in Parliament. I will explain why it is their priority. Marriage discrimination is, at its root, homophobia. It is institutional homophobia. It should be very simple for us to understand that institutional homophobia feeds personal, interpersonal and cultural homophobia in our society. What must be absolutely central to members’ deliberations on this debate is the impact of homophobia in the community. Some members will be aware of an organisation called Twenty10. This relatively small not-for-profit organisation supports young people of diverse genders and sexualities, with services ranging from counselling to crisis accommodation.
Twenty10 has been in operation for 20 years. It is an essential service that has helped thousands of questioning young people overcome some difficult challenges, such as family rejection, social isolation, violence, homelessness and some of the most severe discrimination imaginable. These are young people like those who were surveyed for the Writing Themselves in [WTi] reports. The studies were conducted by Dr Lynne Hillier and others from La Trobe University into the health and wellbeing of same-sex attracted young people. Twenty-year-old Christopher states:
I would say a gay person who says that they have never even thought about suicide is lying. Not being able to act on any of your desires, having to actively hide your true self, often having to pretend to hate the very thing that you are; all of these things equates to a deep feeling that you don’t deserve to live, or failing that, a deep desire to end the suffering.
I pose this question to all members: How can we expect our children in the playground and our colleagues in the workplace to challenge homophobia when the laws governing and recognising families and love sanction transparent discrimination? What chance do we have of improving the lives of vulnerable young people, when our leaders and parliaments fail to take a stand against such discrimination? We cannot get around the fact that marriage laws which discriminate send a clear and devastating message: Not only are you different, but you are not worthy of this special institution which is held by so many to be so sacred. The message is clear: You do not qualify; you are not good enough.
I know that many members in this place are married. When they think of their wedding day they will recall it was the ultimate expression of their love and the ultimate validation and recognition for them and their partner in front of their families and friends. Same-sex attracted people are just as capable of love and commitment as heterosexual people. The marriage laws currently send a loud message that says same-sex attracted people are less stable, less resilient and of less value to their partners, families and friends—and of less value to society. That kind of negative message justifies homophobia in our communities and, even worse, builds on the devaluation, fear and self-doubt that same-sex attracted people can experience every day. Twenty-year-old Tracey in the Writing Themselves in report stated:
My mum called me a lesbian when I was 15 in a derogatory way. My sister told me I will burn and I am an abomination … The government needs to show an example to them by allowing full equality for all Australians.
It is my firm belief that every single member in this place has a responsibility to those suffering the effects of homophobia; especially young people. I believe we have a duty to stand up as leaders and send a strong message—not just a message to young gays and lesbians, but also to their families and friends, to all in the community—that says discrimination is not okay. It is time for full marriage equality for all, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. We have a responsibility to send a strong message to the community that says love between two consenting adults is a wonderful thing that we, as a community, support. Some members will no doubt argue that allowing same-sex couples to marry poses a threat to the institution of marriage. But I am yet to hear a rational argument as to how that will occur. I am not alone in those thoughts. Recently the Hon. Michael Kirby was speaking to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee and stated:
I have never had a satisfactory explanation of how my loving relationship with my partner in any way damaged the institution of marriage, or would, if marriage were available to us.
It is precisely because the institution of marriage is held in such high regard that people want access to it. It is precisely because, for many people, marriage represents the deepest expression of a couple’s love and commitment for each other that some same-sex couples want to marry. Kristie states in her email:
In April I flew to New York with 20 friends and family to marry my partner of four years. I can personally tell you that marriage means something to me and to my partner and my friends and family. All of who live in a society that views marriage as the ultimate symbol of commitment to a loved one. I am not interested in making up a civil union ceremony, I consider it a compromise.
Lorraine states in her email:
My elder daughter is gay and she has a lovely partner. They obviously love each other. My younger daughter recently married and enjoyed what is an important cultural event in our society. The joy and excitement experienced not only by them but also by family, friends and the wider community of neighbours and work colleagues is testimony to this. Please let all loving couples have access to the institution of marriage.
It is clear that the institution of marriage will be strengthened by accepting diversity within the community, removing discrimination and allowing access to people who want it. The institution of marriage has always been changing and it has changed significantly in the last 20 years. The Australian Bureau of Statistics states that of registered marriages in 2010, 31 per cent were religious ceremonies, down from 58 per cent in 1990. In other words, in 2010, 69 per cent of marriage ceremonies were conducted by civil celebrants, up from 42 per cent in 1990. From the 20 years from 1990 to 2010, the proportion of babies born outside registered marriages rose from just over one-fifth, or 22 per cent, to just over one-third, or 34 per cent, of all births.
I ask those who are considering voting against this motion today: What harm will occur by allowing two women or two men, who are deeply in love with each other and committed to each other, to marry? What harm will occur to families, to our society, or to our religious institutions? It is simply not necessary to sanction discrimination in order to respect tradition or even to ensure religious freedom. Personal religious beliefs should not impose on the freedoms of others. Or to put it more lightly, it is fine if people do not want same-sex marriage; they do not have to enter into one. But please allow others the joy, the love, the validation and the sanction that they are able to enjoy in their marriage or in other marriages that our society has blessed.
The amendments to be moved by the Hon. Trevor Khan will address this issue. But they go further: calling on the Commonwealth Government to ensure that churches are not forced to solemnise same-sex marriages if they do not wish to do so. I will be supporting those amendments, reluctantly, to give the motion its best chance of success. Unfortunately, there is still a long way to come with regard to exemptions allowing religious organisations to discriminate. I feel that we will have that debate in this place another day. Thank you to the people in the gallery who have come to hear this debate today.
First, I thank Alex Greenwich for his inspirational leadership on the Australian Marriage Equality campaign. It is worth noting that Alex has recently returned from Argentina, where he married his long-term partner, Victor Hoeld. I am sure Alex and Victor enjoyed the holiday and the wedding, but what a tragedy they are not able to solemnise their love in this way in their home country. I also thank Rodney Croome, the legendary campaigner from Tasmania, who along with some of my Greens colleagues helped transform the most homophobic State in Australia into the most accepting, within one generation. I also thank Peter Stahel in my office for his hard work over many weeks and his determination in seeing this motion succeed.
I give my special thanks to the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, Community Action Against Homophobia, also in the public gallery, ACON, Parents Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, the Gender Centre and all the other groups, activists and ordinary community members who have come out in support of marriage equality. Thank you to the campaigners who have sacrificed so much over decades in the struggle for equal rights, as well as to the newly convinced, who have come around in recent times. And thank you to so many people who have had the courage to share very personal and very moving stories with me and other members over the past few weeks. Jeff Kennett recently said on Melbourne radio:
If people are living a happier life in a gay relationship which ends up in marriage, then why would I in any way want to prevent it? I don’t oppose gay marriage.
He later went on to write in the Herald Sun:
The reality is that all the anti-discrimination laws are baseless if society deliberately discriminates against those law-abiding citizens who seek marriage, but are discriminated against by a law on the grounds of sexuality.
Those who have come on a journey through these issues, and grappled with their personal beliefs and values, should also be congratulated. I look forward to some of you being on the right side of history today. Today’s conscience debate is enormously significant, because in Canberra the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, refuses to allow Coalition members of Parliament a free vote. I therefore congratulate Barry O’Farrell, John Robertson and Andrew Stoner on their leadership in allowing members to examine marriage equality on its merits in this instance. Let me finish with the words of two campaigners. The first is of Shelley Argent, AM, the National Spokesperson for Parents Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays:
Our lesbian daughters and gay sons want no more or less than their heterosexual siblings, which is just be equal. And we as their parents also want equality for them …
Marriage equality will remove the feeling from our sons and daughters that they are seen as second rate citizens with second rate relationships and provide them with the same rights and responsibilities, privileges and choices as their siblings, colleagues and society.
The second is Katherine, who says in another of the emails:
The reason this issue is so important to me: My great cousin Klaus was with his male partner Rudy for 40 years. Rudy was ill the last 5 years of his life; Klaus cared for him 24/7, they made a home, and had a wonderful loving relationship. Klaus passed away 2 weeks ago. They always wanted to be married. Please, they should’ve had that right. Don’t let anyone else suffer, because they’re in love.
I think about the wish of 70-year-old Peter, mentioned at the beginning of my speech: to marry before it is too late. I urge all members, if they have not already, to read some of the personal stories and personal messages that have come through in emails. I commend the motion to the House.