HuntFest organisers welcome approval for firearms, hunting sims

ORGANISERS of the Narooma HuntFest have welcomed the decision by Eurobodalla Shire Council to approve changes for next year’s event.

HuntFest 2014 is set to include a firearms display and interactive hunting simulators after council approved a variation to the festival’s five-year license at its Tuesday night meeting.

South Coast Hunters Club president Dan Field said he was very pleased with the decision at Tuesday night’s council meeting “as the majority of councillors saw through all the misinformation and hype put forward by a very small minority and passed all amendments for HuntFest.”

“The mayor chaired the meeting fairly under a difficult situation,” Mr Field said.

“I would just like to thank the five councillors that voted for the amendments, they showed that democracy is alive and well in the Eurobodalla.

“Both parties showed restraint and respect at the meeting and it’s now time we all move on.

“The organisers of HuntFest wish to thank all their supporters and well wishes. They also believe that this event will be of great benefit to our shire with a boost of much needed tourism.”

Organisers of the Narooma event, the South Coast Hunters Club, sought a variation to its license to allow three new activities for HuntFest, namely the display of firearms, the display and operation of hunting simulators and the conduct of introduction courses to archery.

Council considered the matter at its ordinary meeting after hearing 15 five-minute speeches from community members as part of its public forum.

Those for HuntFest spoke of the festival’s potential to grow into a major event to attract people to the shire, its economic benefits, how small clubs needed such events, and that hunting, while not to everyone’s taste, was a legitimate and lawful sport.

Those speaking against the changes argued council did not conduct any community consultation regarding the variation despite it being a matter of significant public interest, that the festival worked against council’s aims and its ‘Nature Coast’ tourism branding and promoted the idea that recreational hunting and killing was “fun” and admirable.

When it came time to vote on the matter Councillor Danielle Brice moved a motion to defer the decision to allow time for more community consultation, however the motion was lost.

The recommendation to approve the license variation was then passed, supported by Councillors Rob Pollock, Milton Leslight, Peter Schwarz, Liz Innes and Neil Burnside.

Councillors Gabi Harding, Danielle Brice and Fergus Thomson were against.

The next HuntFest will take place at the Narooma Sports and Leisure Centre on the June long-weekend.

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