HuntFest under threat

BIG EVENT: HuntFest, held at the Narooma Sport and Leisure Centre, attracted 57 exhibition booths and more than 2300 adult visitors on the June long weekend.

BIG EVENT: HuntFest, held at the Narooma Sport and Leisure Centre, attracted 57 exhibition booths and more than 2300 adult visitors on the June long weekend.

HUNTFEST organisers have said they will remove the festival from the Eurobodalla if a motion put forward by Councillor Gabi Harding goes ahead on Tuesday night.

Cr Harding’s motion, if passed in its current form, would require the council to undertake “broad community consultation” should any further amendments to HuntFest’s event licence be applied for.

This means council would have to notify the community through its communication channels, exhibit the application for 28 days, and report on results of the consultation before any amendments could be made.

South Coast Hunters Club president Dan Field said if the motion went ahead, it would be the end of HuntFest because it would make it “too hard” and would not be viable.

“It’s going to affect us to the point where it will take us a minimum of two months to get anything through council and that is just unacceptable,” Mr Field said.

“By the time it is advertised for a period of 28 days and then council staff collate the information and put a report to council, you are looking at a minimum of two months.

“It will be nearly impossible to have our event up and running.”

Although the motion is calling for more consultation, HuntFest organisers were not notified about the motion through council, but found out through word of mouth when the agenda was released.

“We haven’t had any notice at all, we found out on Friday,” Mr Field said.

“The part that upsets me and a few of the club members the most is that they are asking for better consultation and they haven’t consulted us.

“The Greens talk about consultation but this is straight out discrimination.”

Mr Field believes the mayor and the Greens have “got together to do this”.

“The mayor has already indicated that he will vote in favour and there are a number of councillors away so it will go through,” he said.

“They have stitched us up.”

Mr Field said the event, which brought $900,000 to the Eurobodalla Shire economy this year, would move to another shire.

“We will probably take it to another area,” he said.

“A couple of other shires have been sniffing around and asking.”

He said the biggest losers in this would be the business people of the Eurobodalla and Narooma in particular.

“The Narooma business people are the biggest losers here more than anybody because they are not going to get a cent,” Mr Field said.

“The biggest effect will be to the business people because they will not get their money on the quietest weekend going into the quietest period.

“They can thank the mayor for that.”

Cr Harding said on Tuesday morning she intended to amend her motion, to make the wording more specific to firearms and ammunition.

“It wasn’t my intention to make this a ‘we’ve got to stop it at all costs’,” she said.

“The selling of firearms shouldn’t be included by amendment creep, which is how this has come to be where it is.

“It was originally a photographic exhibition.

“My wording will be making a more specific rather than the catchall phrase.”

The outcome of the meeting was unknown at the time of print.

Mr Field is expected to present to council at the meeting about how shocked he was that the motion had been put forward.

Eurobodalla Shire Council Mayor Lindsay Brown said the decision for HuntFest to not go ahead would be the decision of the organisers, not council.

Cr Brown said the motion would not make a difference if nothing was done to amend the event license for next year’s event.

“If the HuntFest organisers wish to change the licence, then there is a consultation period which will commence as soon as the amendment is lodged,” he said.

Cr Brown said his understanding was that the licence was retained to the activity of the event and the development application retained to the external structures.

As for consulting the organiser of the event to notify them of this motion, Cr Brown said there was no requirement for the staff to make any contact with the organiser because it is a motion by a councillor.

“It is Cr Harding’s notice of motion, not council’s,” Cr Brown said.

“If she has spoken to HuntFest, she is welcome to speak to them but if she has put it up without speaking to them that is totally up to her.

“It is not council’s role to be a party to a councillor’s motions.”

Cr Brown said he would not make a final decision on the motion until he had heard the debate.

Related coverage: HuntFest survey shows big economy boost

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