A DEAL to expand duck hunting in exchange for ports privatisation in NSW has put the "fox in charge of the henhouse", the Greens say.The NSW upper house last night passed legislation to enable the multi-billion dollar leasing of Port Botany and Port Kembla, after an agreement was struck with the Shooters Party over its duck hunting bill.
The government and the Shooters had been locked in negotiations for weeks over the ports bill, with the minor party demanding support for its duck-hunting laws in return.
The Shooters want the Game Council to have sole control of the granting of duck hunting licences to farmers - a responsibility currently shared with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Environment Minister Robyn Parker said current NSW laws allowed duck hunting on farms for pest control, and the Shooters' proposed changes did not signal a "return to open duck season".
Ms Parker said the government would introduce amendments to the duck hunting bill to create a new Game Bird Management Committee, including representatives from the Office of Environment and Heritage, Game Council and Department of Primary Industries.
"The policy development and science, including the setting of quotas, will be overseen by the Game Bird Management Committee under our proposals," Ms Parker told parliament.
"The (Shooters') bill will streamline and improve the efficiency of the current licensing system, which presently requires two separate approvals."
Opposition Leader John Robertson, who opposed the 99-year ports leases, said the government was putting the "fox in charge of the henhouse" by making the Game Council the sole licensing authority.
"The Game Council is now going to be responsible for deciding whether ducks get shot or not," Mr Robertson told reporters.
Greens MP John Kaye said the coalition had "made itself hostage to a party that received less than 3.7 per cent of the vote".
"(It's) another dodgy sell-off, another squandering of public assets, another handing over of crucial economic infrastructure to the private sector in order to secure a quick grab for cash," Dr Kaye told the upper house.
Head of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, Pepe Clarke, said the Shooters Party bill would effectively see an end to a 20-year ban on duck hunting.
"This is another example of the Shooters and Fishers Party having an undue and dangerous influence over government policy," he said.
"Protected, threatened and endangered species are often shot by duck hunters because they do not discriminate between species."
But Shooters Party MP Robert Borsak said the new licensing arrangements would not lead to "any massive, rapid increase in ducks being shot", and dismissed talk of a "dirty deal" with the government over the ports privatisation.
"This is no different to what we did with the national parks (and the power privatisation)," he said.
"We think that was a good initiative and we applaud the government for supporting our initiative in this area."