Victoria has a State election on the 24th November and it will be no surprise to members to hear that we have already put in a lot of time and effort preparing for it.
In many ways this reflects our advocacy and engagement with politicians and the bureaucracy over the last four years on issues related from access to land to issues related to the ownership of firearms.
Everything that FGA members enjoy and hold dear, hunting, wetland conservation and clay target shooting are all dependent on laws and regulations set, mainly by state government and to a lesser extent, Federally. FGA spends a great deal of time and effort to ensure that these laws and regulations are fair, reasonable and safe.
We employ two lobbyists part time and they, along with our CEO and Board members are frequently in Parliament House in Canberra, Melbourne and other states.
We are open and proud of our history of working closely with governments to improve and protect our hunting and shooting in Victoria, starting 60 years ago with lobbying the Premier Sir Henry Bolte to introduce a Duck license and use the money to secure wetlands for State Game Reserves.
The anti shooting media are trying to portray shooting groups such as FGA and the newly formed gun wholesalers’ industry group, SIFA, as the “powerful gun lobby” and a threat to public safety.
They struggle to back these claims up with any data, instead they rely on an emotional argument pitched to the sense of personal insecurity of an increasingly metropolitan population, exploiting their lack of knowledge of regional Australia and the recreational activity which occurs there.
The claim that there is a well resourced and powerful gun lobby in Australia is not true and those claiming it simply ignore the facts. Indeed the facts that are cited demonstrate precisely the opposite.
What of the Victorian election?
We have come to the view that major parties form government. Although they often have to rely on working with independents and minor parties, the Government has demonstrated recently it can ignore them when it wants to. It is the policies of the major parties which determine not only the laws passed in their time as government but, as importantly, how the laws are implemented and administered. Hence, our major focus is on which of the major parties have policies best suited to the long term future of members of FGA, and hunters and shooters generally? Our strategy and tactics are as follows:-
There is a high risk that Labor will not get enough seats in their own right to form Government and would have to rely on the Greens to keep them in power. An arrangement between Labor and the Greens would endanger Duck Hunting and threaten hunting through the creation of another national park running from Gippsland to the Central Highlands, and that would just be the start.
Labor have not shown a willingness to work with firearms groups evidenced by the Police Minister abandoning her Firearms Consultative Committee despite making significant changes to the Firearms Act.
The Liberal\Nationals coalition have committed fully to working with us on our major issues of concern, should they be elected. The election will be decided by a handful of marginal seats which only require a swing of less than 3%.
In these seats we are actively supporting candidates who are expected to receive in excess of 4% of the vote and will preference the Lib\Nats.
We will support the Shooter Fishers and Farmers candidates and recognise the work they have done in the present Parliament. We will also support other candidates and minor parties which support hunters and shooters.
This election could be crucial to the future of FGA. The best result, would be a Lib\Nat government with Shooters, Fishers and Farmers candidates in the Upper house. A minority Labor government dependent on the Greens would simply be a disaster!