PREMIER Barry O'Farrell's announcement that hunting will be allowed in some NSW national parks has met with a furious response from environmentalist's in Sutherland Shire.
They fear the practice could be extended into the Royal National Park.
Mr O'Farrell announced the move on May 30 and said licensed shooters would be allowed to cull pests including pigs, dogs, cats and goats in 79 of the 799 national parks as part of a deal with the Shooters and Fishers Party that helped the government get its bill to privatise the state's electricity through the upper house.
"Culling of feral animals in our national parks, including the Royal National Park, occurs already," Mr O'Farrell said. "This is a logical extension of an existing policy — a sensible measure to remove these pests which damage habitat and kill native animals."
But the decision has been met with a furious response from environmentalists who accused Mr O'Farrell of abandoning pre-election statements, including one in April that his government had "no intention of doing deals with the minor parties" and there "will not be a decision to turn our national parks into hunting reserves".
National Parks Association of NSW southern Sydney president Brian Everingham wrote to MPs in the area to express his organisation's outrage
"The decision of the Premier to allow recreational shooters into 79 national parks and reserves is the most retrograde step ever taken in this state by a conservative government," Mr Everingham wrote. "Royal National Park might not be on the current list but many people from southern Sydney visit national parks across the state. The public will be appalled and will feel at risk."
Nature Conservation Council chief executive Pepe Clarke said Ms O'Farrell had broken faith with the people of NSW. "The Premier has repeatedly assured the public our national parks would not be opened up to hunting. He has broken that promise," he said.
Cronulla MP Mark Speakman said the government did not control the upper house and had to negotiate with crossbenchers to get legislation passed.
"We've been elected to get NSW moving. An independent inquiry recommended the sale of electricity generators. To get this legislation passed once Labor and the Greens blocked it, we had to do a deal with the Shooters and Fishers in the upper house" he said.
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