Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) — My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Agriculture, and it is in regard to the ongoing use of the flawed 2013 survey of hunter expenditure, which was commissioned by the former Department of Environment and Primary Industries and conducted by consultants RMCG, EconSearch and DBM Consultants.
The report states at page 14 that it is not a cost-benefit analysis and so should not be relied upon to substantiate whether a particular activity, for example, recreational hunting, is to be preferred over other options. As alternative options for generating economic activity, the survey found at pages 61 and 62 that three outdoor activities — camping, fishing and bird and animal watching — were rated equally or more important than hunting by a majority of respondents. Because this was not a cost-benefit study it did not have to consider the alternative economic benefit from tourism in a gun-free environment without shooting wildlife.
The data was obtained from self-reporting by hunters, who were asked to recall how many trips they had taken in the last 12 months and to detail their expenses, in 30 different categories, from one trip in the last year. They were not even shown the total of the 30 different expense claims to see if the total seemed reasonable.
No crosschecking or auditing was performed to assess the reliability of hunter recall; few could retain such detailed financial information in their memories with any accuracy over 12 months. Simple analysis indicates the results are ludicrous; for example, that duck shooters spent $230 for each duck bagged in 2013 and the average annual expenditure per hunter exceeded $9000, despite the fact that over a third of hunters are inactive — they do not go in any given year and the majority of them only go one or two weekends a year.
Apart from firearms and ammunition key expenditure items were food, alcohol, vehicles and boats. Most of this expenditure would have occurred somewhere else in Victoria whether people were hunting or not. In particular the respondents said that their vehicles and boats were used for other activities all year as well as for hunting, so it is likely that these or similar purchases would have been made anyway. As I found on my visit to the opening weekend in Kerang earlier this year there were no hunters in the local takeaway shops or at the supermarkets on the Friday evening before the opening of the season — I went around and had a look at all of them.
The minister often refers to the $431 million economic benefit of hunting coming from this survey that is now four years old and is flawed in its basic methodology. My request is that the minister cease using this old and flawed economic impact study as a basis for the economic value of hunting in Victoria because it is not factually correct.
REPLY on 6 February 2018:
Action 2.3 of the Government's $5.3 million Sustainable Hunting Action Plan commits to monitoring the social and economic benefits of hunting, by conducting a study every five years to determine the contribution of hunting to the economy. The next survey is due for completion in June 2019.