Aspiring political candidate for the Federal seat of Indi in northern Victoria, Mark Byatt is a long-standing member of the SSAA. Mark was raised on a dairy farm at Cudgewa in far North East Victoria where, as a teenager, shooting was part of day-to-day rural life. He spent many a weekend stalking the lower foothills of Mt Mittamatite, the mountain range separating the Corryong and Cudgewa valleys of the Upper Murray region, with his trusty Brno.
In those days as a student at Corryong High, Mark recalls “shooting was a regular activity in the school sporting curriculum, with clay target shoots at the Corryong range a great experience for regional students”.
Fast-forward to today and after an impressive work career and involvement in leading key regional development agencies and community associations and a stint in local government as a councillor of eight years (including five as Mayor) with the City of Wodonga, Mark has thrown his hat in the ring for a seat in Federal Parliament, bidding to win the Federal Electorate of Indi as the National Party of Australia’s pre-selected candidate.
As a SSAA member since 1996 and long-term member of the Antique and Historical Firearm Collectors Guild of Victoria, Mark has been impressed by how the SSAA has responded to the ever-changing social landscape and expectations of modern society.
He said: “Responsible management of sports shooting has long been at the heart of the SSAA’s charter with great success, and with feral pest numbers continually on the rise, I can see a day when pest management strategies and practices will routinely incorporate the value of SSAA member shooters in practice. This largely volunteer cohort, if used appropriately and within the best possible governance frameworks, can perform a valuable service to society, particularly in rural and regional communities.
“I’m often asked ‘why politics?’ and the answer is I’m a product of the region. I believe in the potential of regional Australia as a key part of the nation’s growth and prosperity. I have first-hand experience in community and business leadership, including being a CFA volunteer of more than 40 years.”
Mark has built strong relationships across public and private sectors and has a solid understanding of all tiers of government and has served multiple terms leading Regional Cities Victoria and Regional Capitals Australia.
Despite the busy schedule he still finds time to run an Angus cattle farm with his wife and do his bit in eradicating feral pests. Mark also enjoys time shooting with his son Mitcham (also a SSAA member) and getting out for an afternoon or spotlighting excursion.