CHAIRMAN of the HuntFest committee and president of the South Coast Hunters Club Dan Field has responded to concerns firearms will be displayed at the Narooma festival.
The National Parks Association (NPA) raised concerns the decision to allow firearm displays had been made without any comprehensive public consultation process, and that none of the region’s tourism bodies were consulted.
Mr Field said the amendment to allow the display of guns was approved by the Eurobodalla Shire Council, and questioned how much consultation had to be made with other groups.
“Why should anyone have to go to the tourist information centre [to get approval]?” he said.
Mr Field said in HuntFest 2013, 1235 people walked through the gate, around 80 per cent of whom came from out of town, which benefitted the tourism industry as it brought money to the region.
Responding to the concerns HuntFest could affect the way tourists see the natural area, Mr Field said Eurobodalla already had seven shooting clubs, and firearms clubs had been in the area for around 200 years.
At a council meeting in December 2013 to vote on the amendments to the HuntFest licence allowing the display of firearms, the council voted 6–3 for the amendment.
Mr Field said there were 33 submissions against the amendments and 75 for it and while 15 people spoke at the meeting it was split evenly between those for and against.
He also said no members of NPA attended the meeting, and only half a dozen members of Stop Arms Fairs in Eurobodalla (SAFE) attended.
He noted if HuntFest was held at a private function centre and not Crown land, the committee wouldn’t have had to go to the council for approval.
There will be no live ammunition at the festival, and no firearms will be fired.
Mr Field said hunting clubs are informed not to come and hunt, just to join in the festival.
Arms fairs take place all over Australia, but Mr Field said there had never been an incident due to the tight security at these events.
“There is no chance of a negative impact,” he said.
There will be an interactive hunting simulator which teaches people how to hunt correctly.
“It’s a training device for hunters, nothing more,” Mr Field said.
Mr Field said the South Coast Hunters Club always donates to community groups when asked, and has donated in the past to fishing clubs, rescue squad, boxing troops and Scouts.
The HuntFest licence allows the committee to continue running the event for the next three years.
“I’d like people to come and have a look, that’s all I’m asking,” Mr Field said.
HuntFest 2014 is on in Narooma from June 7–8.