In a less than inspiring election promise, Mr Walsh offers Victoria a "clean up" of 200 odd state game reserves and then handing over of their management to Game Management Authority (GMA).
He seems to have missed the fact that less than 0.8 per cent of the population shoot animals for recreation, that SGRs are these days often close to residents and that GMA only months ago were found by independent consulting group Pegasus, to be incapable (and unwilling?) to effectively manage our wildlife.
It's also rather audacious of him to have made his announcement at one of the very lagoons from which distraught residents and businesses - his constituents - have written numerous letters to him pleading for help with unpoliced duck shooting 50 meters from their front door, impacting business to say the least.
Their letters have been ignored for years. Mr Walsh didn't even drop in for tea or chat enroute to his media launch.
Why does Mr Walsh persist in promoting a dying activity like duck shooting (less than 0.4 per cent of the population still shoot our native waterbirds), when it is known to be cruel (why other states have banned it), offensive to over 87 per cent of Victorians (Morgan Poll) and a deterrent to the tourists we desperately need in our small rural towns to keep them afloat (The Australia Institute)?
There is continued evidence (SGS Economics and Planning, ATO, Census) that rural Victorian communities are struggling financially - worse than other states, in fact some of the poorest postcodes in the country are right near Mr Walsh's own electorate.
Mr Walsh knows that according to his own estimate (commissioned whilst he was Agricultural Minister about five years ago), duck shooting is claimed to only bring in $42.5 million right across the state, 39 per cent of it going to Melbourne Metro while many rural areas see little if any Independent economists refute any benefit from duck shooting (The Australian Institute).
Meanwhile, tourism continues to grow exponentially (elsewhere) and is one of the biggest economic contributor to our country - more so than agriculture (agriculture, forestry and fishing). Tourism employs more than 1 in 20 Australians, supports 1 in 8 businesses and for the third consecutive year, outperformed the national growth rate (Tourism Satellite Account). Tourism is now worth $12.2 billion GSP and 143,000 jobs to Victoria. Nature-based tourism - like bushwalking (up 14 per cent according to latest Tourism Research Australia data) - its fastest growing component.
No wonder Kakadu just won the Top Tourism Award, Winton Wetlands attracts 36,000 visitors a year to one wetland area and Lake Tyrell is seeing up to 240 visitors a day.
How about promoting nature based tourism which will be a more socially acceptable and a much needed lucrative boon for rural Victoria? How about redirecting the millions of taxpayers' dollars pouring into a minority activity and instead funding roads and hospitals which all Victorians need?
Of the two major parties, it appears to be the Andrews Government who is showing signs of supporting rural tourism and climate initiatives, both of critical importance to the bush.
Kerrie Allen, Spokesperson Regional Victorians Opposed to Duck Shooting Inc.