HuntFest gun promotion ‘doesn’t stop at boundaries’

HUNTFEST CHAIRMAN ALLAYS FIREARM DISPLAY CONCERNS

OPINION PAGE

NATIONAL Parks Association (NPA) branch president Doug Reckord is concerned events like HuntFest in Narooma are aimed at promoting the use of guns.

Mr Reckord said this issue does not just affect the Eurobodalla, but the Bega Valley as well, as hunters will be travelling through the region.

“Guns don’t stop at boundaries,” he said. 

“The councils should be talking with each other.”

Mr Reckord said one effect could be more hunters in the region shooting illegally in South Coast national parks, which he said was demonstrated by records obtained from the now disbanded Game Council NSW.

Mr Reckord said the NPA certainly doesn’t want a hunting festival staged in the Bega Valley.

“We want to discourage people saying that we should do something like that here,” he said.

“There’s been no discussion on the possible downside by the [Eurobodalla] Council and there is a growing community backlash against that approach. 

“What risk-benefit analysis has taken place?”

He said the NPA’s level of concern about HuntFest was much greater due to a licence amendment to allow for the display of firearms.

Mr Reckord said it’s a decision that was made without any consultation with the wider community, as the variation to the current licence did not require a formal submission process.

Mr Reckord also said in the 2012 council meeting the motion giving in principle support for HuntFest to use council facilities in Narooma was slipped in as an urgency motion and questions have been raised by members of the public about whether that motion had been handled correctly.

“[The urgency motion] was a mechanism to avoid public debate,” he said.

“If people are fully behind it and they want it, why slip it in, unannounced, in an urgency motion?”

He said there had not had an advertised, formal process for submissions on whether HuntFest should take place.

Mr Reckord said it would have been more appropriate if the organisers of HuntFest had hired a private venue and held it there, instead of the publicly owned Narooma Sports and Leisure Centre.

Mr Reckord believes the problem of HuntFest is promoting gun culture as healthy and fun, part of a model like in the US where there are “disastrous results”, and where lack of gun laws were a major contributor to mass shootings. 

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