The current strengthening of controls on the actions of protesters against duck shooting together with a liberalisation of the regulations allowing children over twelve and foreigner visitors easier access to duck shooting licences appears to be part of a wider trend.
The new Victorian regulations also include a number of changes in the manner in which deer can be hunted in this state. Changes have been introduced to the way Sambar Deer are hunted with hounds. Key changes include allowing Harriers to be used for hound hunting (effective 1 March 2013); allowing up to three pups in training in addition to the existing pack limit of 5 hounds and allowing up to two additional junior hunters to hunt without being considered part of the maximum team size of 10. In addition to the above, laws have been introduced to extend the Red Deer open season from two months to the whole of the year; to allow the selling of taxidermied game products; to remove the requirement to return unused Hog Deer tags and to include four new gundog breeds for deer and game bird hunting.
The relaxation allowing up to two additional junior deer hunters is in accord with the regulations that make it easier for young duck hunters to participate in the sport. Critics of these regulations maintain that the overall intention is to facilitate and promote hunting in all its forms in Victoria.
It has been claimed that the current Victorian government is giving primacy to a narrow set of rural interests in opposition to broader environmental concerns.
On April 9, 2013, Victorian premier, Denis Napthine, announced that the Department of Primary Industries and the Department of Sustainability and Environment are to merge. The new department would be called the Department of Environment and Primary Industries, with Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh at the responsible minister.
The changes come after department numbers were slashed as part of the Sustainable Government Initiative last year. There were 200 jobs cut from the DPI and 400 earmarked to go from the DSE through voluntary redundancies. Further numbers were lost through contracts not being renewed.
Before the last election, the Victorian Coalition promised to restore the DPI to its 'rightful status as the lead Government agency responsible for all management issues on private land'.
The Premier has said the new arrangements would 'sharpen the focus of the public sector on securing investment and jobs, delivering responsible financial management and providing better frontline services to all Victorians'.
Conservationists have expressed concern that these administrative changes represent a downgrading of government commitment to the protection of the state's environment.