Chinese high rollers 'killing wombats on luxury hunting trips'

Chinese high rollers killing wombats at a luxury hunting lodge in country Victoria must be stopped, a Greens senator has demanded.

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

The company's website, translated from Mandarin, says the first thing tourists should feel in Australia is to be a wilderness hunter in the mountains.

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

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

Tourists carry guns during visit to the "ranch" in the Victorian shire of Murrindindi, about 100 kms northeast of Melbourne.
People shown holding guns in a visit to the property, which is called "Dude Ranch" on Google Maps. Source: Google Maps/Yj Zw

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the allegations were part of an evolving scandal surrounding Crown.

"This is beyond bizarre. This is stranger than fiction. Why on earth is this government doing absolutely nothing to really crack down on this hideous and obscene behaviour," she told parliament.

The Greens senator told the upper house high rollers were being fast-tracked through the visa process, picking up prostitutes, getting access to drugs and going to a luxury hunting lodge to shoot wombats.

It comes as Crown faces revelations it had a "hotline" to Australian consulates to fast-track visa applications for big-spending gamblers flying in from China, which the company strongly rejects.

Photo of native Australian wombat, one of the animals believed to be under threat in Murrindindi's tourist hunting ground.
A wombat is shown amid speculation their livelihoods are under threat in Murrindindi. Source: File/Getty Images

In question time, the government's Senate leader Mathias Cormann was asked about the wombat shooting and the Crown allegations.

"The Australian government takes allegations of illegal activity very seriously," he told the upper house.

"Everyone, of course, is required to abide by the Australian law, which includes casino operators, public officials and visitors to our country."

He reiterated the government had referred the Crown allegations to the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity.

“Coming to Australia and shooting the wildlife”

But Senator Hanson-Young said the inquiry would not look at wombat hunting.

"Does the government really think that it is appropriate to fast-track Chinese gambling billionaires through our border protection processes so that they can come to Australia and shoot our wildlife?" she said.

"No one in their right mind would say this is appropriate."

Crown says the "junkets" are not related to the company.

"They are independent operators who arrange for their customers to visit many casinos globally," its board of directors said in a statement on Thursday.

"Crown itself has a robust process for vetting junket operators, including a combination of probity, integrity and police checks, and Crown undertakes regular reviews of these operators in the light of new or additional information.”

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