BALLARAT hunters will be asked to “share” their game with interstate and overseas shooters under a plan by the Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh to increase tourism in regional centres.
A report released on Monday by the Department for Environment and Primary Industries broke down hunters’ spending, adding they spent $4.7 million in the Ballarat region last year.
Mr Walsh said it was in regional centres’ best interests to support hunting of ducks, quails and deer.
“The Victorian Coalition government values the significant social and cultural benefits game hunting provides to our state and we also see opportunities for the sector to develop high-value, niche tourism experiences that could attract interstate and international visitors and, in turn, further boost regional economies.”
The report, which surveyed licensed hunters, said deer hunters spent $2.7 million, duck hunters $1.2 million and quail hunters $400,000.
Field and Game Australia chief executive officer Rod Drew said this report showed the importance of hunting to regional Victoria:
“The fact of the matter is hunters spend money on food, fuel and accommodation.”
Mr Drew also said there was a lot of pest hunting in the area, although the report stated it contributed only six per cent of hunting expenditure.
He supported the minister’s plan to bring in overseas shooters, dismissing environmental or safety concerns. “Hunting is one of the safest recreational activities; research shows it’s safer than netball (and) footy.”
A 2012 report by think-tank The Australia Institute concluded “claims that duck hunting – or any recreational hunting – contributes significantly to the economy of Victoria are false”.
Coalition Against Duck Shooting director Laurie Levy said The Australia Institute data was far more accurate than that in the expenditure report, which he described as “bogus”.
“Hunting belongs in the last century. The numbers of shooters have dropped from 100,000 in the 1980s to less than 20,000 now.” he said. “The annual income is more like $10-15 million, anyway.”