The Parliamentary Friends of Shooting (PFOS) group was launched in Federal Parliament last month, bringing together different sides of politics, members of the shooting community and wider industry. The PFOS initiative began in 2015 and the group has been reborn several times following federal elections and has resulted in useful conversations, relationships and social occasions at the range.
New South Wales Labor Member for Hunter, Dan Repacholi and Victorian Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie will be co-convening the group, with both reiterating the benefits of having a vehicle for our community to jointly advocate and increase the understanding of our sport among members of parliament, staff and the general public. “Now we’re here, we’re really going to have to put a shoulder to the wheel,” Senator McKenzie said.
“For many years now the purpose of PFOS has been to demystify who we are as law-abiding firearm owners to ensure the broader community understands who we are, what we do and that it’s nothing to be afraid of. We also aim to make clear the broader economic and socio-economic contribution our community makes to this country.”
The 2023 PFOS launch attendees included political staff members and a range of firearms industry and special interest groups including the Shooting Industry Foundation of Australia, Field and Game Australia, Australian Deer Association and Shooting Australia. Members of parliament in attendance included Western Australian Member for Moore, Ian Goodenough; WA Member for Brand, Madeleine King; Member for Eden-Monaro, Kristy McBain; Queensland Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter; Qld Senator Pauline Hanson; NSW Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce and Qld Member for Bonner, Ross Vasta.
Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (SSAA National) Chief Executive Officer Tim Bannister addressed the gathering at the launch and took the opportunity to highlight our ongoing calls for more formal communication channels at federal level through a firearms advisory group. “It’s good to see PFOS up and running,” he said. “Firstly I’d like to thank Ian Goodenough, Ross Vasta and Bridget McKenzie for what you’ve done in the past. It has been a useful way of trying to get what we’re about into conversation. We may all talk about shooting in different ways but the message is the same – we’re licensed shooters and we’re law-abiding.
“We had a very quiet time last year since the new Government came in until it all exploded at the end of the year. Something former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd installed and the conservatives continued on with before COVID interrupted, was the Commonwealth Firearms Advisory Council. That group morphed into the Firearms Industry Reference Group over time and was really useful for this community. We were talking to Customs at the time and now Border Force and Australian Federal Police about the things we all have in common and that’s public safety. It also allowed us the opportunity to make sure legislation worked in an effective way and didn’t have unintended consequences.
“That worked really well for more than a decade but has stopped for the moment. I think it’s something we as an industry need to get back on the drawing board. This will put us all in one room talking frankly with each other and so if something bad does happen, or if we together as a group see a way we can advance public safety while still making sure we can hunt, we can shoot and participate in sport at both elite and club level, then we can act.
“I’m asking Dan Repacholi to throw his weight around and knock on the door of the Attorney General and let’s start a conversation about how we get anyone with a genuine interest and desire to see shooting prosper in Australia into that room so we can have a frank conversation.”
To further push this point, SSAA National representatives also met with the Attorney General’s Department to discuss ongoing consultation and formation of an advisory group. The conversation proved extremely useful and we look forward to progressing this in future.