National

Vic wombat shooting report kept hidden

By AAP Newswire

Victoria won't act on a secret report sparked by revelations Chinese high rollers at Crown Casino were shooting wombats, until some time next year.

Victorian Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio ordered the review in August and recently received the report.

"Wombats, like all wildlife in Victoria, need to be adequately protected," a government spokeswoman told AAP.

"We've just completed a review into the rules around this and we're now considering the recommendations."

The report won't be released publicly and AAP understand the government will decide how to act on the recommendations early next year.

"Despite community outrage at the killing of wombats in Victoria, the government are burying the review and trying to get away with doing nothing," Greens MP Sam Hibbins said.

"The government should immediately release the review and act to ensure wombats are protected across the entire state."

Currently wombats can been killed in parts of Victoria for specific purposes without the need for a permit and the review examined those rules, the distribution and numbers of wombats and the threats they may be facing.

Tom Zhou, who according to Nine news reports, organised junkets for high rollers at Crown Casino, has been revealed as the owner of a rural property in Murrindindi.

His company's website, which appears to have been taken down, had previously said the first thing tourists should feel in Australia is to be a wilderness hunter in the mountains, in translations from Mandarin.

"Even if you don't have any shooting experience, it doesn't matter. With professional guidance, you will be a great shooter!" the site reportedly said.

"Hares, foxes, wombats, wild ducks, red deer, sambars ... a variety of wild animals to spend a happy holiday with you."

The hunts were uncovered as part of allegations of money-laundering at Crown casinos, including that the gambling giant had a "hotline" to Australian consulates to fast-track visa applications for big-spending gamblers flying in from China.

In March 2018, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning cancelled an authority to control wildlife for common wombats for the Balaclava Station in Murrindindi.