The Shooters Party is holding the NSW Government to ransom. The party has long taken advantage of Labor’s lack of a majority in the Upper House to make single-issue demands in return for their precious votes, but enough is enough.
Their current list of demands includes amendments to firearm legislation — which, among other things, would remove the need to register air rifles and BB guns — and a five-year moratorium on the declaration of more marine parks. This is on top of their existing demand that they be allowed to shoot things (feral things, we’re told) in 40 national parks across NSW.
Do these guys set out to bring some Wild West style to the
NSW Parliament? Because that’s how it’s beginning to feel.
Now I acknowledge that I don’t like guns; I don’t really understand the appeal of guns; I don’t know how to shoot guns and would probably lead a more peaceful existence if no-one else did either. But I know that not everyone agrees with me. So it was in the spirit of fairness that I hiked up to Pymble last week to attend a public meeting on the issue.
This meeting was old-school. The place was packed. On one side were the greenies with their placards and expensive looking hemp clothes, and on the other was the People Who Like Guns Brigade (PWLGB), sporting stern looks and some damn impressive beards.
The issue at hand for the evening was the Shooters Party’s proposal to
allow shooting of (feral) animals in 40 national parks across the
state. On top of this, they propose to increase the list of animals
that are considered fair game and rescind the legislation preventing
private gaming reserves. Now, I haven’t spent years studying this stuff
but my gut reaction is that the last thing I want in a national park is
someone shooting at the wildlife or, with my penchant for getting in
the way, at me.
I had coyly managed to sit right among an enclave of the PWLGB, so maintained what I like to think was a pretty neutral expression throughout the proceedings. The meeting was tops. Not only were the speakers good, with representatives from the major parties (excluding of course the NSW Labor Party who executed their governing duties with aplomb by refusing to participate), but there was a lot of the good ol’ yell and heckle from both sides. Everyone enjoyed themselves immensely.
There was only one part of the evening I didn’t enjoy.
People were in a line waiting to ask "questions". (Actually, they were mostly five minute statements with a fake question at the end — some of the speakers even turned their backs to the experts they were meant to be questioning and just played to the crowd.) One of the few people who had a genuine inquiry, however, was a young woman in a high school uniform. She addressed her question, about the reasoning behind private game reserves, to Shooters Party MLC, Robert Brown. Brown’s response was immediate, aggressive and jaw-droppingly condescending:
"Do you even know what private game reserves are?"
While she was answering yes, and embarking on an explanation of a private game reserve, the audience erupted into some vehement mutterings. The Hon. Robert Brown must have misinterpreted the sentiment because he seemed to think it was funny.
"I’m just asking her a question. Does she even know what they are?"
By this point, the girl was quite over being treated like a three-year-old and I would have been over it too. She sat down, having had a perfectly reasonable question bullied off stage. It was a disgusting display from the MLC — and epitomised the behaviour that his party displays in parliament.
Sadly, this kind of bullying is the way things seem to get done in NSW politics at the moment, and our beleaguered leaders have done little to prove they have the guts to stand up to the bullies’ demands. So I guess it’s up to us to do the only thing you can do with bullies: look them straight in the eye, stick out our chins and walk away, taking our votes with us.
A vote for Labor in NSW shouldn’t mean a vote for the Shooters Party.
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