Dr WOODRUFF question to MINISTER for PRIMARY INDUSTRIES AND WATER, Mr BARNETT
Evidence of the climate crisis and collapse of ecosystems is everywhere. In 2019, waterbird population surveys across eastern mainland states found numbers of birds in areas of wetlands were the lowest since counts began in 1983. Approximately half the species of waterbirds were found on just 11 wetlands. Your department reports the substantial movement of ducks between mainland states and Tasmanian wetlands during droughts. Despite this, you continue to approve the annual duck shooting season as if there is no tomorrow. Clearly, your pledge to hunters before the 2018 election to protect their so-called right to shoot is more important than your responsibility as a minister to protect our threatened wildlife.
In addition to the impact on native duck populations, the shooting season results in cruelty on a devastating scale. Thousands of ducks will be shot in the name of sport. Many will suffer gunshot wounds but not die immediately; instead they will suffer for hours or days before dying. New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia have banned duck hunting, and Victoria and South Australia have substantially reduced their seasons.
The vast majority of Tasmanians would be appalled to hear your department estimated nearly 50 000 ducks were shot in 2019. Yet you propose no restrictions to the season that commences this Saturday, 6 March.
Minister, why will not you listen to the science, your department's ecologists, animal welfare advocates, and bird experts, and finally put a stop to the annual duck slaughter?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Franklin for her question. I do not recall a ban on duck-hunting during the Labor-Greens government. I make that comment because the member for the Greens was part of that Labor-Greens government for four years.
Our Government recognises that appropriately managed duck hunting is a traditional form of recreation in Tasmania. The department manages an open season to provide access for recreational hunting, and has strict regulations and procedures in place to ensure the hunting of ducks is humane and sustainable.
The determination of wild duck hunting season is based on the results of waterfowl monitoring surveys over wetlands which have been conducted in Tasmania for more than three decades, including under the Tasmanian Labor-Greens government, which never banned duck hunting at the time.
I can advise that the 2021 surveys indicate that duck numbers are at acceptable levels as a result of increased rainfall. There has been increased rainfall over the summer period and ducks are well dispersed across Tasmania.
Dr Woodruff - That's in stark contrast to what everywhere else in Australia is recording. Release the data.
Madam SPEAKER - Order, please. That can be a question for tomorrow.
Mr BARNETT - Thank you, Madam Speaker.
As a result of that, the secretary of my department this week announced his decision, as Director of National Parks and Wildlife and Director General of Lands, to allow access to specified reserve land during the duck season. The secretary has released a statement with the reasons for his decision, which is available on the department's website. I have previously advised this is a decision for the secretary, not for me as minister.
Consequently, the 2021 hunting season for wild duck in Tasmania will open on Saturday, 6 March. I take this opportunity to remind all licensed hunters that they are required to abide by the rules and regulations throughout the season. My department compliance officers will be monitoring the activities of duck hunters and, where necessary, enforce those requirements.
I note in passing that a significant proportion of duck hunting occurs on private land, assisting landholders, farmers and the like in managing the impact of ducks on primary production activities. There are members in the Chamber who know the importance of that.
I have also said on multiple occasions and confirm again on the record in conclusion that I am advised the long-term population of monitoring of wild duck populations conducted annually by the department shows no evidence of long-term decline in wild duck numbers in Tasmania over this period.