Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for PRIMARY INDUSTRIES and WATER, Mr BARNETT
Last month a document inadvertently released under a Greens RTI, titled Minutes to the Minister for Primary Industries and Water, revealed that your department strongly recommended against the duck hunting season on a range of reserve lands. This recommendation was made by your principal wildlife management officer of Game Services Tasmania.
The document noted that other states are taking measures to protect wild duck populations after significant waterbird decline on the mainland due to severe drought, and that Tasmania's participation would be important for the recovery of Australia's native duck populations.
Minister, earlier this year, in response to the Greens' questions in parliament, you suggested the decision to open up this duck hunting season was sustainable. However, the briefing note prepared for you makes it clear that proceeding as normal with this season was not sustainable.
What advice, if any, have you received that makes you confident enough to reject the strong recommendations of Game Services Tasmania, as well as to take a completely different management direction from other states?
Madam Speaker, I thank Dr Woodruff very much for her question, and the opportunity to respond.
I make it very clear on behalf of the Government that we recognise that appropriately managed duck hunting is a traditional form of recreation in Tasmania. As I have previously advised, the department manages an open season to provide access for recreational hunting and has strict regulations and procedures in place to ensure that hunting of ducks is humane and sustainable.
I have also indicated previously that long-term population monitoring of wild duck populations, conducted annually by the department, shows no evidence of long-term decline in wild duck numbers.
Dr Woodruff - Hold on, this is not true.
Madam SPEAKER - Order. I know you are attempting to respond, and I am attempting to keep order.
Mr BARNETT - Thank you. Wildlife population trends are determined using scientifically robust and statistically valid methods -
Ms O’Connor - Yes, that is why they advised you to stop the season this year.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor.
Mr BARNETT - Wild duck population monitoring has been regularly conducted in Tasmania for more than three decades under previous governments of all forms and all colours, including the Labor-Greens government. The same surveys, the same reviews, the same assessments - and, as far as I am aware, there was no ban on duck hunting under the Labor-Greens government when it was in power.
Surveys undertaken in February 2020 showed that numbers remain within the range observed in recent years. The 2020 hunting season for wild duck in Tasmania opened on Saturday, 7 March and closed Monday, 8 June.
Ms O’Connor - Who made the decision?
Madam SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor.
Mr BARNETT - Thank you, Madam Speaker. Wildlife enforcement officers monitor the activities of duck hunters at wetlands to ensure compliance with the rules and regulations.
Dr WOODRUFF - Point of order, Madam Speaker. We were asking specifically - point 45, relevance - what information the minister had that was different, because he is not responding to that part of the question.
Madam SPEAKER - I cannot instruct the minister how to answer the question, but I can ask him to remain relevant.
Mr BARNETT - There were many parts to the question, and part of the question referred to the RTI, and that was what I was about to respond to before we were interrupted.
However, Madam Speaker, with respect to the draft minute referred to in the question, that was not provided by the department to me or my office. I received no advice.
Ms O’Connor - Who stopped it then?
Mr BARNETT - Are you interested in an answer?
Madam SPEAKER - No. It does not look like it. Excuse me, Greens members: could I respectfully remind you that you are not above anyone else here, and you are not allowed to interrupt.
Mr BARNETT - Madam Speaker, as I was saying, I received no advice from the secretary that I should make a new order or an amendment order to change the provisions for the 2020 duck season.
I was advised of the secretary's decision to open specified reserved land for duck hunting in the course of normal business shortly before the opening of the season.
Madam Speaker, section 30 of the Nature Conservation Act 2002 provides for the minister to determine, by order, the seasons, dates and places for the taking of various game species in Tasmania. The Nature Conservation Open Seasons Order 2004 currently defines the period of the wild duck open season in each year as that period, and that has been noted.
Madam Speaker, I have said before that, in terms of the long-term evidence, there is no long-term decline in wild duck numbers.
Dr Woodruff - That is not true.
Madam SPEAKER - Dr Woodruff, warning number one.
Mr BARNETT - Thank you Madam Speaker. I will conclude, and make it very clear that it is based on advice from the department and surveys across decades of past governments including the Labor-Greens government.