Welcome to the first Australian Shooter for 2015. Although it has only been an additional month between editions, 2015 is already shaping up to be another productive year for the SSAA – but not without its challenges.
Despite our successes in 2014, the end of the year brought with it an unthinkable incident that rightly shocked the nation. It was disappointing to once again see some groups in society, particularly the Australian Greens Party, use the incident as an opportunity to attack us, legitimate sporting shooters, for an unrelated act. These unwarranted attacks demonstrate there is still an undertone of anti-gun sentiments within society and serves as a reminder that we need to remain ever vigilant.
A key way in which we can protect our recreation is, of course, through the SSAA. As many of you know, the SSAA has federal, state and territory parliamentary presences where we liaise with elected leaders and relevant government departments. The SSAA also has official Non-Government Organisation status within the United Nations and regularly participates in international discussions, with the SSAA to attend a high-level meeting early this year. We also speak openly with our counterparts in New Zealand about any issues and talks will be held between our like-minded bodies this month.
Back home, the end of 2014 saw the report from the Greens-led Senate Inquiry into ‘The ability of Australian law enforcement authorities to eliminate gun-related violence in the community’ delayed until March 26. The SSAA answered questions at the Canberra public hearing about our submission and responded to additional questions, while continuing to assist with the Inquiry as the report is finalised. We await the release of the report and will respond accordingly to the committee’s recommendations.
For our SSAA state branches, upcoming elections in Queensland and New South Wales present a timely reminder for members to make sure every vote counts. It is imperative for members to approach the election booth fully informed about which party’s policies will best represent the shooting sports. Members have a personal responsibility to understand where their vote goes, particularly when it comes to preferences, and we need your support to ensure our parliaments consist of supporters of our industry. If you need more information on a party’s policy, simply ask the candidate or contact your SSAA state office.
Other states are also facing their own political challenges. South Australia will see the results of an ongoing review into the Firearms Act released, while our Western Australian members are awaiting the outcome of an inquiry which will determine whether hunters will have access to certain public lands if a regulated and licensed recreational hunting system is introduced. These are just two issues already on the agenda, with more certainly set to arise.
Beyond 2015, the SSAA has been in preliminary talks with academics to investigate the possibility of hosting an international symposium on sustainable wildlife management in 2016. Talks so far have been positive and we will bring you updates on how this develops throughout the year.
Finally, I am pleased to announce the launch of the SSAA’s new Gold Membership option. I alluded to this last year and after meticulous negotiation, I am confident that you, our members, have the opportunity to receive the best insurance offer possible.
There is no doubt that this year will bring more challenges. As many of you mentioned on our SSAA National Facebook page, it is now more than ever that the SSAA is needed to promote the shooting sports and protect firearm owners’ interests.
Thanks for your continued support and let’s continue to grow and protect our sport throughout 2015.