If one were to pick an issue with the potential to divide the Liberal-National Coalition, it would surely be something serious and ultra-important. Right? But recent news reports have revealed that the LNP is being ripped apart by crocodiles… literally!
Trophy hunting for crocodiles within the NT has long been a controversial subject. But Environment Minister Greg Hunt couldn’t have predicted just how unpopular he would be within his own party. The brawl erupted after the minister announced his intentions to “…protect African lions from the barbaric practice of canned hunting by banning the import and export of trophies”. The result was a ban on the importation of stuffed lions’ heads form the African continent.
But within the LNP, tensions began to flare up. The National wing of the party felt isolated and threatened by Mr. Hunt’s lack of consultation. And given the centrality of hunting within regional areas, they believed that they were being bamboozled by the soft-talking minister from the big smoke.
After this incident, the minister guaranteed the Nationals that there would be no restrictions on domestic hunting rights for non-threatened species. But in the weeks since, the emboldened National wing have decided to push another controversial agenda. They now say that they want trophy hunting reinstated for a limited number of Aussie crocodiles.
According to the Nationals, the extra hunting permissions would allow local indigenous communities the right to access more income. They add that indigenous communities have been asking for less stringent hunting restrictions for some time. Though the minister has expressed his disapproval for the idea, his hands are effectively tied by a recent environmental agreement struck between the NT and PM Abbott.
Publicly, some senior National figures have been quick to lambast the minister for seemingly heavy-handed actions. Senator Bridget McKenzie told the ABC that Mr. Hunt may have been stigmatising hunters. “I am a hunter,” Senator McKenzie explained. “I am a shooter and I’m very proud of that fact, and I’m proud of the people that I hunt and shoot with. I think there is a fabulous opportunity within Australia to actually develop a trophy hunting industry.”
But for now it seems that the jury is still out on the merits of trophy hunting one of the most iconic Australian animals…
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