The Shooters and Fishers Party has joined calls by western NSW councils to halt the creation of new national park lands, saying the parks are hurting rural communities and encouraging feral pests.
SFP MLC Robert Borsak wants a moratorium imposed until the conclusion of the NSW parliament’s current inquiry into public land use, which is due to hand down its report in April next year.
The SFP has already succeeded in legalising licensed hunting in the state’s national parks, which is due to become a reality in the coming months, and there is growing pressure from many quarters for a change in the way public land is managed and used.
Mr Borsak said he was surprised to learn that since the O'Farrell Government came to office another 5869 hectares have been added to the national park estate, comprising three new parks and 21 additions to existing parks.
"On top of this, another 7049 hectares of national park estate has been re-categorised in the reserve system, for example from state conservation area to national park," he said.
“Parks have been declared without any consideration for the damage they cause to local rural economies and the ongoing detrimental affect they have on our communities,” the president of the Western Division Councils of NSW, Peter Laird, said when he called for a halt to new parks last week.
“This has been exacerbated by the fact that the NSW Government does not have the funds to adequately manage the parks.”
He said a significant proportion of parks are locked up and are unable to be accessed by the public, so the parks become breeding grounds for feral animals and noxious weeds and propose a significant fire hazard.
Mr Borsak said the western regions of NSW had been “particularly hard hit by national park declarations, without proper consideration to their impact on rural economies and communities”.
"The government should make the right decision and ensure that any future declarations are made for the right reasons, and not ideology," he said.
The parliamentary inquiry, which is being chaired by SFP MLC Robert Brown, is taking submissions until 3 August, and both Borsak and Laird have encouraged people to have their say.