THE senior bureaucrat overseeing the introduction of hunting in NSW national parks, Sally Barnes, previously led a unit that warned the move would ”annihilate” wildlife management and could damage the state’s environmental credentials.
An internal briefing note from 2008, prepared for the former Labor government and on which Ms Barnes is listed as the sole contact, said there was ”no precedent” for opening national parks to hunters for the purpose of feral pest eradication.
At the time, the government was considering a push to do so from the Shooters Party. Ms Barnes was the deputy director-general, parks and wildlife group, within the environment department.
”This decision would annihilate current rules around wildlife management in NSW and significantly curtail the ability for [National Parks and Wildlife Service] to manage lands reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974,” the note said.
Elsewhere, it asked: ”We are trying to open up parks to visitors – how can this be compatible?” The briefing also raised concerns about the impact on the state’s environmental record. ”NSW has a balanced approach with hunting allowed in state forests and on private land,” it said. ”If NSW wishes to be the Green State why would NSW be the first state to move to allowing hunting in national parks?”
Ms Barnes, a former head of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, was appointed the chief executive of the Office of Environment and Heritage in May last year by the Environment Minister, Robyn Parker.
The office is responsible for overseeing the introduction of hunting in national parks from March, following the O’Farrell government’s deal with the Shooters and Fishers Party last year over passage of its electricity privatisation legislation.
Last month, Ms Barnes issued assurances on the changes after the leaking of a draft risk assessment conducted by her office which warned of the dangers of allowing amateur hunters into national parks.
The assessment said there was a ”major risk” that bushwalkers and national parks staff could be seriously injured or killed.
A spokeswoman said on Friday Ms Barnes ”does not have a record or any recollection of creating or authorising” the advice in the briefing note.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.