Engagement and initiative key to shooting sports’ success

It has been another busy month for SSAA National, which included our first face-to-face meeting with Justice Minister Michael Keenan since the conclusion of the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) review. I attended the meeting for our proud Association, along with key firearms industry representatives, with the entire review process and sly release of the new NFA high on the agenda.

In response to the disingenuous process and poor outcomes, I am encouraging you, our members, to highlight the burdensome and restrictive nature of the NFA on our sport, directly to your local politicians. As we have said before, politicians have indicated to us that they rarely hear from their constituents about firearm issues. This needs to change.

To make it easy for members to become politically active, we have created a dedicated Member Action information webpage that provides guidance on how to engage with politicians, politely and effectively. It has been great to see so many members already engaging with lawmakers, which in turn aids the efforts of the state and territory SSAA branches who have been taking the fight to their respective Police Ministers.

In addition to the Ministerial meeting, we took the time to sit down with the Opposition Minister responsible for firearms, Clare O’Neil MP. Engaging with politicians of almost all persuasions is part of being efficient lobbyists and we will continue to seek common ground with those who show an interest in our cause. We also assisted One Nation in developing its firearms policy at the party’s request.

We have also been searching for areas of commonality with the RSPCA Australia, whom we again met with at its Canberra headquarters. Both the SSAA and the RSPCA are working towards dispelling myths and attempting to understand each other’s point of views on issues affecting the two organisations. The SSAA has shown that we are dedicated conservationists and highlighted our involvement in environmental activities, from preserving habitat for koalas in my home state of Queensland to supporting the recent quoll reintroduction scheme.

I am pleased to say that the involvement of the SSAA in bringing quolls back to South Australia’s Ikara-Flinders Ranges will be on display for all to see when they visit the popular Wilpena Pound tourist site, with work in progress to create a sign proudly displaying our logo. I also encourage our members to promote our involvement in this initiative to our politicians.

A key supporter of the quoll project and the SSAA is the Threatened Species Commissioner Gregory Andrews, who works closely with the Environment Minister Joshua Frydenberg. We recently met with Mr Andrews to discuss the conservation activities of our members. Mr Andrews is well aware of the important role that hunters play in protecting our native and threatened species, particularly from the threat of feral cats.

To further promote our work with landowners, we met with Assistant Agricultural Minister Anne Ruston to explain our SSAA Farmer Assist program. This program, which enables members to connect with farmers to undertake pest control activities, will feature in a presentation at the 17th Australasian Vertebrate Pest Conference to be held in Canberra this month.

Finally, this month will see the first SSAA SHOT Expo for the year take place at the Melbourne Showgrounds. With a record total of six major sponsors, along with media partners Australian Hunter and Australian Shooter, the event proudly showcases the growing Australian firearms industry and recreational shooting culture. It is a great weekend and encompasses what the shooting sports are about: a safe, fun activity that all family members can enjoy. I hope to see you there.

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