Duck hunting likely to be banned in Victoria following parliamentary inquiry recommendation

  • In short: A Victorian parliamentary inquiry has recommended recreational duck hunting be completely banned from 2024
  • What’s next? It is likely the government, which has six months to respond, will follow the recommendations

Victoria is likely to have held its last duck hunting season after a Labor-led parliamentary inquiry recommended the divisive pursuit be banned.

The committee, which included Greens and Animal Justice Party, found there were significant animal welfare concerns around “the unacceptable wounding and death rate of threatened bird species, whether accidental or intentional”.

It also found a major problem with current compliance of duck shooting rules.

The inquiry had more than 10,500 submissions, a record for a Victorian parliamentary inquiry.

Very big close-up of a duck's head.

The inquiry heard from advocates who say animal welfare is a top concern of hunters and others who accused hunters of abuse.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

Labor chair Ryan Batchelor said Victoria should end recreational native bird hunting on all public and private land from 2024.

“This would bring Victoria into line with many other Australian jurisdictions,” he said.

“It’s clear from the environmental evidence of long-term decline in native bird populations, largely driven by habitat loss, and a worsening outlook as our climate continues to change.

“Despite written record, recent rainfall — bird populations have not [recovered].”

Government likely to follow recommendations

Other recommendations included transforming hunting reserves into state recreation reserves, whilst also allowing traditional owners to continue to hunt ducks.

“There is clearly a need to improve the protection of sites of Aboriginal cultural heritage in State Game Reserves,” the report said.

“The committee was extremely concerned about evidence of the destruction of sites of cultural significance, and disappointed at the lack of clarity from departments and agencies about who should be responsible for management and enforcement protection.”

It was not a unanimous position – the Coalition and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers all opposed the ban.

Liberal MP Evan Mulholland said he believed the inquiry was a “stitch-up”.

The Andrews government has been under pressure, including from Labor MPs and ministers, to end the annual season.

The special inquiry was set up at the request of the government, indicating it is likely to follow its recommendations.

The government has six months to formally respond to the recommendations but it faces a major battle with the union movement.

Trades to walk off jobs if ban is accepted

A number of building unions have threatened to walk off the job if duck hunting is banned, warning it was an affront to their members.

“More than 85 per cent want our union to campaign for the right to enjoy the outdoors, including their right to hunt,” CFMEU assistant secretary Derek Christopher said.

The group is also encouraging the government to work with shooting groups.

“The government must work with shooting groups and unions to secure a native bird season based on science, history, culture and working-class values,” Electrical Trades Union secretary Troy Gray said.

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