Bushwalkers pay price for amateur hunters

Bushwalkers will pay the price of the state government's decision to allow amateur hunters into national parks through increased insurance costs to reflect the risk of being shot.

The insurance broker to the state's 55 biggest bushwalking clubs confirmed to Fairfax Media that public and private liability costs would inevitably rise as a result of the added risk - confirmed by the government's own risk assessment - that someone could be killed once shooting of feral animals begins in March.

The broker, Marsh, said insurance companies would think twice about offering cover or ''load the premium'' for walkers.

The risk of bushwalkers and national parks staff being killed or seriously injured was rated as ''major'' by an internal risk assessment produced by Premier Barry O'Farrell's own department and leaked to Fairfax Media last month.

Representatives of the 30,000 bushwalkers who belong to clubs say they will explore possible legal recourse, including a class action against the government.

The state's biggest bushwalking club, the National Parks Association, said it fears its insurance bill - estimated at $30,000 a year - could double or more as insurers price the risk of paying out for the worst case scenario of a shot walker.

Kevin Evans, the chief executive of the National Parks Association, said the deal to allow hunting in an initial 79 parks with the Shooters and Fishers Party was ''absurd'' and the bushwalking community's objective would be to see the law repealed.

But the association would also fight against having its members pay the price of the law through higher insurance costs.



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