CRISP (Mildura) — I raise a matter for the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change. The action I seek is that the Brickworks Billabong on the Merbein Common be declared a no-hunting zone for the duck season. The area of water known as the Brickworks Billabong by the local Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning personnel is currently used by duck shooters during the usual duck hunting season.
The billabong is situated in a low area with housing on a high bank area on the south side of the billabong. There are approximately six residences on the hill, used for both horticulture and private accommodation. One of the premises is a bed and breakfast. The billabong is split in half by a levee bank, which acts as a driveway for access to a residence and divides it into two water areas. The western side of the billabong has a number of irrigation pump sheds on its southern and northern banks. The property at 554 Wentworth Road, Yelta, uses the levee bank as its main driveway and access. It is a private residence and horticultural block. The house would be approximately 50 metres from the water's edge, and the housing on the southern side of the billabong is about 130 metres from the water.
In the past three shooting seasons this has been one of the only bodies of water that shooters could legally shoot on in the Mildura region. The billabong is currently situated on forestry land on the Merbein Common. Residents in the area have over the past years made numerous complaints to the relevant authorities about shooters peppering their houses and blocks with shot whilst engaged in their activities. I believe allowing legal duck shooting on the billabong poses a risk to property owners who live in the area. It would not be unforeseeable for shot to injure people on these properties, perhaps inadvertently resulting in eye injuries.
A change of status for the Brickworks Billabong on the Merbein Common is required for the duck hunting season. We have had significant floods in the Sunraysia region over the past months, and most of the billabongs and lakes in the proximity of the river are full and loaded with wildlife. This season is different to the previous seasons because there are many options open to shooters for their recreation other than the Brickworks Billabong. We cannot have a repeat of last year. Whilst the police were visiting the property at 554 Wentworth Road, shot arrived on the roof of the house where they were dealing with the complaint.
Given the complexity of responsibility and the duck shoving between departments, we have reached an impasse that requires ministerial intervention. One solution would be to have the Brickworks Billabong declared a no-hunting zone for the duck season, as has been done at Lake Connewarre. Urgent action is required due to the approaching duck season. The various responsible departments must identify and publicise sites suitable for duck hunting that will not bring risk of injury to the residents. There are plenty of sites that can be used for duck hunting this year.