AROUND 200 protestors joined Friday’s “No Hunting in National Parks” rally in Ayres Walkway, Bega.
The rally was a sedate, controlled affair as local residents and visitors vented their views on the State Government’s proposal to allow recreational hunting in national parks.
The event was emceed by Richard Barcham, one of the rally’s organisers.
Mr Barcham opened by saying the event was the “tools of citizens’ action for NSW Parliament to overturn a bad decision”.
Mr Barcham had a message for NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, saying he must work with Parliament to repeal unsupervised hunting in national parks.
The first guest speaker was Kim Taysom, vice-president of the National Parks Association Far South Coast.
Mr Taysom said recreational hunting was “not compatible” to the values and culture of national parks.
He said the proposal to allow recreational hunting was “totally ineffective” on animal control.
Mr Taysom said on the push to abandon the proposal, “we say amen to that”.
Next to speak was Public Service Association Far South Coast delegate and Protected Area Workers Association of NSW representative George Malolakis.
Mr Malolakis spoke about a range of topics, including the government’s proposal, pest management and the risk of injury.
He said he wanted to “voice our complete and utter rejection of this terrible proposal”, adding “it has nothing to do with effective pest management”.
Mr Malolakis said the idea of “amateurs running around our bush with guns” created a high risk of injury.
“Even one death or injury is one death or injury too many,” he said, to which the crowd replied with a rousing “hear, hear”.
An interval of entertainment was provided by Candelo’s Mike Martin, who sang a song “We Say No Way, We Say No Way, We Say No Way Is Better By Far”.
The tune was written on behalf of national parks’ flora and fauna, with the crowd joining in by chanting the chorus.
Mr Martin’s song was followed by a speech by Sue Cruttenden, of Narooma.
Ms Cruttenden spoke about her disapproval of Narooma’s HuntFest, to be held in June, which is described as Australia’s premier hunting and photographic show.
According to Ms Cruttenden, HuntFest sent out the wrong message, particularly to children.
“It bugs me that it is made family friendly and is encouraging kids to go hunting,” she said.
Ms Cruttenden said children should be taught to “appreciate life is very valuable, and not to get kids from going out and killing animals”.
She then quoted British comedian Spike Milligan – “throw away your gun, you will have a lot more fun”.
The final guest speakers were Megan Collins and Paul Farrell, both driving forces behind the rally.
Ms Collins said national parks were the only places that “protect our wonderful animals”.
“Barry O’Farrell has destroyed NSW pride by allowing hunters in national parks,” she said.
Ms Collins said Mr O’Farrell had made a mistake, challenging him to “fix it”.
Mr Farrell said the Premier had supported the idea of recreational hunting because it was effective feral animal control.
“Everyone agrees it’s not a good idea, expect Barry O’Farrell.”
Mr Farrell then said the government had “lit a fire” with the issue, describing it as a “dangerous” and “stupid” thing to do.
Mr Farrell warned the Premier that “this fire will burn all the way to your office in Macquarie St”.
After the speeches, the protestors marched along Carp St to deliver their message – and a signed petition – to the offices of Andrew Constance.
Chanting “No way, no hunting in national parks”, the large group made clear its appeal for the State Government to abandon its plans, due to be implemented in June.