Hunting ducks, tradition & mental health!?

source: ABC

As reported by the ABC on August 31 2023, in good news for ducks, recreational duck hunting is likely to be banned in Victoria from 2024.

The inquiry had more than 10,500 submissions, a record for a Victorian parliamentary inquiry.

It can only be hoped that South Australia, Tasmania, and The Northern Territory follow suit if a precedent is set. Currently, this is only a recommendation to be considered by the Victorian Government within 6 months.

The ABC News article mentions Steven Threlfall, a life member at Shepparton Field and Game, saying:

…for him, hunting was a family tradition that went back generations. He said we was disappointed to hear the recommendations but not shocked.

He raised concerns that a ban on duck hunting could soon spread to include other forms of recreational activities.

Such arguments from tradition pop up surprisingly often. But what does saying that something is a tradition mean here? This is the way we’ve always done things? I like this thing and so has my family for many decades? Because I want to?

Should tradition, the way we’ve always done things, liking something, be considered more important than someone’s life, just because that someone isn’t a member of your own species?

Next we encounter something, well, bizarre:

A number of building unions have threatened to walk off the job if duck hunting is banned, warning it was an affront to their members.

“More than 85 per cent want our union to campaign for the right to enjoy the outdoors, including their right to hunt,” CFMEU assistant secretary Derek Christopher said.

The right to enjoy the outdoors?

How about going for a walk in the outdoors?

The right to hunt? An affront?

What about the right of ducks to, I dunno, stay alive?

Or is being shot and left for dead not enough of an affront for you?

And this…

“The government must work with shooting groups and unions to secure a native bird season based on science, history, culture and working-class values,” Electrical Trades Union secretary Troy Gray said.

Stringing a few words together like science, history, culture, and values doesn’t necessarily yield a meaningful sentence.

And, if you add “working class”, that doesn’t automatically make everything permissible.

Then we have this:

Other recommendations included transforming hunting reserves into state recreation reserves, whilst also allowing traditional owners to continue to hunt ducks.

“There is clearly a need to improve the protection of sites of Aboriginal cultural heritage in State Game Reserves,” the report said.

And now, here comes something truly gobsmacking (my highlighting below)…

Not all in Labor agreed with the report.

Upper House MP Sheena Watt wrote her own minority report urging the sport to be allowed to continue due in part to the improved mental health outcomes hunting provided.

“We can’t promote mental health on the one hand and deny working people the opportunity to take part in an activity that clearly has positive mental health outcomes on the other,” she said. 

The Yorta Yorta woman said hunting as a cultural practice and an expression of identity for Indigenous people should be given more weight.

I’ve been through Australian Mental Health First Aid training twice in the last 3 years, and I’m 99.9999999% sure that the “sport” of shooting ducks or maiming them and leaving them to die a slow death was never once recommended as a way to treat depression or a means by which to promote positive mental health outcomes.

But the bit that really upsets me, makes me furious actually, is the last part of this statement by the MP:

…hunting as a cultural practice and an expression of identity for Indigenous people should be given more weight.

Cultural practice? Expression of identity. What, like stoning wombats?

Given more weight?


IF hunter is "traditional owner" THEN hunting = True ELSE hunting = False ?

This sort of selfish, evil nonsense plays right into the hands of the Liberal No campaign for the Indigenous Voice to Parliament we have to vote on in a few weeks, almost as if it’s deliberate sabotage.

I received an email recently from SA Liberal MP Jamie Stevens in which he said (my highlighting below):

We have spent decades breaking down inequality and building a nation and society with fundamental principles of equal rights and treatment for all. To reintroduce into our constitution principles that treat Australians differently based on their race, gender, sexuality, religion or any other attribute is objectionable to me. The strength of our democracy is that every Australian has an equal status in the decision making processes of our nation and our government. It is a national shame that upon becoming a federated nation in 1901, Indigenous Australians were not given the right to vote. Treating them differently in our Constitution was wrong then, and my values hold that it would be wrong to do so again through this proposal.

On the one hand, while this has the appearance of being reasonable, it misses the point that there is currently a gap between life outcomes for many indigenous people and that equal consideration of the interests of indigenous and non indigenous Australians is something to be examined and corrected where inequality exists. But, it must also be acknowledged that there are others in Australian society who are also disadvantaged, and the idea that in general, one person in Australia is treated no differently to any other is demonstrably false; missing from the list ending in “any other attribute” above, is financial status.

But, I digress…

On the other hand, while it may be a minority view, if the kind of advice given to the government of the day by a current indigenous Labor MP is: shoot ducks to improve the mental health of indigenous people, I could be forgiven for seriously questioning whether to vote yes in the Voice referendum. Despite my own confusion, I’m basically on the Yes side, but don’t give me reason to think I should not be, don’t make me teeter on the edge!

Time for some Plain Speakin’ as Shaun Micalef used to say on Mad as Hell

Well done Yorta Yorta Labor MP Sheena Watt. A win for Team Misanthropy! Has it occurred to you that your speciesist worldview actually represents a repetition of the sins of the white settlers who invaded your ancestors’ home? But you’ll never see that because you’re so blinded by the belief in your own importance!

I wonder what The Greens would say about the Labour MP’s words? I’m sure that some Greens MPs would be horrified.

I know what the Animal Justice Party would say.

But enough! The claim that the working class underdogs of Australia, indigenous or otherwise, have some special cultural or traditional “right” (an extremely overused word) to murder (for any reason) sweet, innocent ducks who just want to live their lives unhindered by unhinged humans, is WRONG plain and simple.

No compromise. No argument. End of story.

I’m normally keen to understand other people’s point of view.

Not on this matter. Sorry.

Quite a few years ago, before I was vegan, I spontaneously did my best to scare the bejesus out of a youngish couple on a walk near our local river by yelling obscenities at them when they let their dog off his/her leash allowing the dog to run after a duck and chomp down on the duck’s neck. I’d hate to think what I would do, or at least, what I would want to do if I saw someone shooting a duck…

This whole issue gets to the heart of the problem, the reason I can’t stop thinking, talking, and writing about this stuff, when I’d much rather focus on other things.

At the heart of the problem is the misguided belief that we are at the centre of things. Even before I was vegan I didn’t believe that, but I couldn’t figure out what I was missing.

What I was missing was the simple notion that no-one should be treated as a means to an end, no matter what their species, that the interests of animals, human and non-human should be given equal consideration, and that we should not tolerate suffering being inflicted on any sentient creature.

That’s it. Is this really so unreasonable?

The greatest ethical test that we’re ever going to face is the treatment of those who are at our mercy.

Lyn White, Director of Strategy, Animals Australia

One Response to “Hunting ducks, tradition & mental health!?”

  1. Frank J Peter Says:

    Thanks, mate.

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