Our Media and Politics Officer Rachael Oxborrow talks to Olympian and politician Dan Repacholi
As one of Australia’s highest profile target shooters Dan Repacholi is now enjoying the new challenge of representing his country in a different way, as the recently-elected Federal Labor Member for Hunter in New South Wales. And in this role the 40-year-old SSAA member has not only taken on the interests of his electorate but those of every law-abiding firearm owner in the country.
“I think it’s great we have a shooter representing in parliament who can be a big voice in that side of things,” he said. “There are other shooters in parliament of course but being an internationalist with a profile, I can work on changing that stereotypical perception of firearm owners.” Dan was elected Labor Member for Hunter in this year’s Federal Election, is a Commonwealth Games triple gold medallist and four-time Olympian and a fitter and turner by trade who runs a machinery sales business in his local area.
As one of his first points of call in the firearms arena, Dan is working with Victorian Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie to resurrect the Parliamentary Friends of Shooting group. In the past this group was hugely successful in educating politicians and their staff about firearm ownership, target shooting and hunting while also offering opportunities for fun and educational range trips and field days. In addition to reinvigorating this space Dan is aiming to connect with the flip-side of the debate and change perception further.
“I’m also planning to join the Parliamentary Friends of Gun Control so they can have insight into the difference between legal firearm use in Australia and criminal use,” he said. “There’s so much common ground in values between both sides and this is a chance to understand each other much better.”
Dan feels the current status of firearm laws in Australia should be something we take pride in but says there’s always room for advancement. He believes there can be improvements in managing the criminal element and illegal firearm crime more effectively while allowing law-abiding firearm owners to continue with their hobby, sport and pastime. “We have great laws in Australia and people doing good things,” he said.
While his new role may seem a world away from being a fitter and turner or international grade target shooter, Dan says politics was always going to play a big part in his future. “For a long time I’ve had an interest in joining the local council and trying to become Mayor at some stage,” he said. “My friends tell me they could see this coming and to be honest it’s been interesting and great fun. There aren’t too many jobs where you’re genuinely trying to help people every day of the week.”
Now he’s had some time to settle into his new role, Dan’s striving to strike a balance between working for the community and maintaining his target shooting interests and hopes to return to regular training with the aim of qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics.