A message from SSAA National President Geoff Jones
The tumultuous political times continue to bring challenges for sporting shooters. In the midst of the first National Firearms Agreement (NFA) review since its introduction, we are now facing an early double-dissolution election where all seats are up for grabs and an appetite for change is in the air.
While SSAA National has had many successes during the past two and a half years by engaging supportive Senators and MPs, achieving a great outcome from the Greens-led Senate Inquiry into gun-related violence and building working relationships with the relevant government Ministers, it is clear that Australian politics is stagnating. The Coalition’s push to introduce minimum mandatory sentencing for illicit firearms trafficking has been repeatedly blocked, the captain’s call by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott to stop imports of the Adler seven-shot lever-action shotgun was an affront to law-abiding shooters and Freedom of Information (FOI) documents showing public servants’ politicising discussions caused concern that consultation with end-users was being overshadowed.
Nevertheless, the SSAA is well placed politically. Our seat on the current Firearms Industry Reference Group and smart approach to lobbying ensures we will remain a key consultative group as we approach our 70th anniversary, whatever the election outcome.
In preparing this ASJ: 2016 Federal Election Special Edition, our new SSAA Legislative Action (SSAA-LA) department has invited all the major and key minor parties to submit their views on firearms, hunting and the shooting sports. Our positive relationships with the major parties ensured we received responses from all, where no doubt other fringe firearms groups would have failed.
The statements come first-hand from the parties and candidates, bar the Australian Greens, who did not respond to any of our offers for inclusion. Receiving a total of just 8.6 per cent of the vote in 2013, it is clear the Greens party is becoming irrelevant. With a record number of independents winning seats in 2013, it is also clear that the Australian public is disenfranchised with the tiresome political makeup of old. That means that anything could happen in this year’s election where all seats are on the table for the first time since the 1980s.
The SSAA’s message is clear: we will support those who support our chosen pastime and embrace evidence-based policy over emotion, while using our media empire to publicly blast those who revert to opportunistic policies that are detrimental to our liberties. Hunting and shooting are among Australia’s oldest pastimes and the evidence clearly shows it is the criminal element of society which poses the biggest threat when it comes to the illicit firearms market.
Our democracy gives you the right to choose who you vote for on July 2. The information published in this ASJ is a guide for those who want to ensure supporters of our recreation and industry are elected. With 150 electorates, we implore you to research the special circumstances in your area, as there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Unfortunately, we must again ask that you put the Greens last given its continued attack on the licensed firearm community shown by the party’s lack of response and statements on the public record.
Finally, the SSAA is not a fringe group which sits idly by when politicians attempt to make negative changes that will severely affect our sport. With at least one million shooters who have the support of family and friends, our political weight cannot be ignored. So make sure your vote counts on July 2 and goes to a party and candidate who will positively represent your interest in the shooting sports for the next crucial three years.