Editor's note- due to the rapidly changing nature of the Government response please seek up-to-date information on
Camping, Hunting and Fishing restrictions.
As part of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, in March 2020 Victoria introduced Level 3 restrictions which included a prohibition on hunting and fishing. The Shooters, Fishers and Farms Party strongly objected to these restrictions on what is for the most part a solitary activity, particularly as other states including NSW did not restrict these same activities.
These restrictions were removed on the 12th May in the first wave of relaxation of the social distancing requirements, in part as a result of Jeff Bourman’s lobbying of the government on this issue, but unfortunately a restriction on camping continued, which greatly reduces the ability to undertake these activities for many people. The relaxing of these restrictions has also allowed hunters to participate in the remainder of the 2020 Duck and Hog Deer Seasons.
As Victoria has entered renewed restrictions in July we have seen that hunting and fishing has not been specifically prohibited this time around, but rather is allowable within a reasonable distance from home, as long as you don’t cross in or out of the lockdown area. This is a much fairer and more workable situation and shows that our work earlier in the year has paid off.
Gun Shops (national cabinet, DV allegation and PTA’s)
A further part of the introduction of Level 3 restrictions was the immediate restriction on Licensed Gun Dealers prohibiting the sale of firearms and ammunition to licensed recreational shooters. This ban was introduced with no warning, and the justification given was a supposed spike in gun and ammunition sales in the previous week indicating hoarding behavior, and an increased risk of domestic violent during social distancing.
These allegations against licensed firearm owner were unfounded and unsupported by any evidence of these risks and were a major insult to the integrity of licensed shooters across the state. Jeff Bourman MP was extremely vocal in dispelling these allegations based on the following points:
Despite repeated requests for evidence of the increase in firearm sales to be disclosed by Victoria Police, no evidence has been disclosed to this day.
Unofficial statistics provided by a firearms dealer based on the Victoria Police numbering system of permit requests, the numbers of permits issued was nowhere near doubled from the preceding week, as was alleged.
There is no evidence available of an increase of ammunition sales as these sales are not tracked by Victoria Police in any way.
There is no evidence of law-abiding firearm owners being more prone to commit domestic violent. In fact, if a LAFO were to be charged with any sort of domestic violence they would instantly loose their license and firearms anyway. Many of our supporters have pointed out on social media that the greatest reduction of domestic violence would be reached by limiting alcohol sales instead of firearms, which have been completely unaffected by social distancing restrictions.
It is worth noting that, again, NSW did not feel the need to close their gun shops at all.
Despite the obviously ludicrous nature of these restrictions, Jeff lobbied the government to make sure these restrictions were among the first to be lifted once the social distancing rules were relaxed on the 12th May.
Game hunting license extension
After much discussion with the Government Jeff was able to secure a fairer deal for Victoria’s 50,000-plus recreational game hunters who had paid for game licenses for 2020 but were unable to use them due to the Covid-19 restrictions. The Government has automatically extended all 2020 Game Licenses for an additional 12 months at no further cost and with no further application process required. Hunters who successfully drew a tag in the 2020 Hog Deer Ballot will also have their tag extended to next year.
Whilst many Game Hunters are disappointed to have missed out on planned hunting trips in Victoria for a portion of both the 2020 Duck and Hog Deer Seasons, we believe the extension of these licenses and tags is a fair and equitable measure to reduce the impact of social distancing measures on hunters.
In recent months Jeff has sponsored several petitions. The most notable was a petition signed by 4059 people calling on the government to announce the 2020 duck hunting season. Another was 4148 petitioners calling on the government to relax the Covid-19 restrictions on outdoor recreational activities.