Or are some people just born fishers? It’s hard to say, really, but the important thing to remember about the Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party is that it is totally different from the Shooters and Fishers Party. And that they like fishing.
Actually, I don’t know how different they are, I’m just amused that they turn up next to each other on Victoria’s Senate Ballot Paper.
It’s all a bit fishy, really.
And I’m going to stop right now with the fish puns, because I can think of ever so many and I’ll never get to the policies if I start down that road.
The Fishing and Lifestyle Party apparently like opera / jazz singers, or at least, they’ve preferenced the Australian Voice Party second. They have also given high marks to the Motoring Enthusiasts, the Bullet Train, Bank Reform, the Australian Independents, and Family First. Eventually, they work their way down to the Liberals, Nationals and Labor, leaving the bottom of the ticket for the Greens, who get some fierce competition from Socialist Equality, Animal Justice and Stop CSG.
Already, we know a certain amount about them! For one, thing, odds are they aren’t environmentalists…
Visiting the website the first thing I see is ‘Vote to restore your right to fish!’, alongside a button inviting me to WIN a Game Fishing Charter. I had no idea you could fish for games; you learn something new every day.
Oh, she is a sarcastic beast, isn’t she?
Let’s start with a little history, thoughtfully provided on the AFLP website. It’s the heroic tale of how one man’s frustration with the government telling him where he could and could not fish led to the creation of a party that helped elect Barnaby Joyce, assisted John Howard to achieve control of both houses of parliament, and yet remains threatened by the perfidy of the Greens and Labor. The writing style is so much fun that I think I’ll share some of it with you:
As the Queensland Fishing Party post- mortemed the state campaign, it became apparent that extremist environmentalism was threatening a lot more than just ‘the right to fish’. A sickening number of “rights-to-access’ were, and remain, under threat: the right to access national parks for camping or equestrian activity, the right to chop-down a tree on your own property, a land-holders right to alter a creek or stream on his/her property, or even draw water from it.
Everywhere, Lifestyle Rights are at risk – Aussies are no longer allowed to enjoy un-restricted access to the ‘great Aussie outdoor’ lifestyle. An overblown bureaucracy and Labor governments in both Brisbane and Canberra are locking-off our outdoors at a frightening rate…
An attempt, perhaps, to turn us into an indoor nation of nerds, an inevitable consequence of what Labor and the Greens have afoot – but there is also a logical political explanation: Labor, struggling and desperate to stay in power, are pandering to every non-scientific Green demand, for the express purpose of securing their preferences at the coming Federal poll and the next state election in 2012.
To counter the ever-increasing trashing of our basic rights by this self-serving Labor-Green alliance, the Party opted to take-on a more embracing name, one that reflected the wider concerns of the majority of Queenslanders.
So the Australian Fishing & Lifestyle Party was ‘born’ – not a birth as such but the result of the party evolving in to an entity that represents the interests of all citizens threatened by the nation’s over-bloated bureaucracy, and environmental activism being conducted with religious fervour by a relatively small number of activists, but a group with political influence way beyond their meagre numbers.
It’s great stuff, isn’t it? They are basically a party of Aussie Battlers. My favourite part is where the name ‘Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party’ apparently reflects the wider concerns of the majority of Queenslanders. Employment? The economy? Immigration? Nope, it’s fishing and lifestyle they really care about.
(I do not want to make jokes about Queenslanders, but I do suspect that parties like this one are one of the reasons such jokes exist.)
Their philosophy and aims are more restrained, and actually sound pretty good:
To engage the Australian democratic political system in an honest, holistic, egalitarian, and non-sectarian manner to the benefit of all Australians, creating an environment in which all individuals can attain their potential.
To establish an Australian political party based on this philosophy, empowering Australians to enhance the economic, environmental, social, cultural, political, and recreational aspects of the Australian lifestyle.
Alright, I’m listening. Now, what does that mean when you apply it? Let us move on to the policy page and find out…
The policy page starts well, with a ‘general framework’, about 100 words divided into bullet points on things like favouring private enterprise, a solid economic base, secure boarders, economic and compassionate immigration, standardising services Australia wide, respect and encouragement of ethnic diversity, recognising the value of research and investment into new economic activities, and so forth. There are a few double-edged ones in there – any time anyone talks about using ‘scientific, factual information in the decision-making process’, you sort of know they have quite specific ideas about which answers science is going to give them. And we have this nice little one here:
Responsible environmental interactions and factual environmental education are paramount to ensure ecosystem conservation, sustainable harvest, and scientific monitoring
Then we move on to the specific. Which is about fishing. And more fishing. And the environment. And marine protected areas. And the Coral Sea. And aquaculture. And Fishing. And the Great Barrier Reef. And Fishing. Fishing. Fishing.
For 1200 words.I think we can see where their priorities lie.(Hint: They appear to be fond of fishing.)Look, I’m not going to attempt to dissect quite this much detailed fishing policy. I will say, though, that the general trend is that they want the government and especially environmental extremists to stay out of things, and they want to fish where they like. Which is everywhere. They want to do this sustainably, but they seem to define ‘sustainably’ as ‘whatever we like doing’. Actually, that’s not quite fair. A closer read suggests that they want commercial fishermen to be sustainable and responsible, and their policies for commercial fishing are actually fairly intelligent. However, they seem genuinely unaware that amateur fishing could possibly be unsustainable or lead to problems of any kind. In fact, here is their amateur fishing policy, just for fun:
- Amateur fishing is a social, cultural, and traditional right of all Australians
- Amateur fishing is a regular pastime of at least 20% of the Australian population
- Amateur fishing has huge economic importance to the Australian community
- Managed amateur fishing has no effect on biodiversity or sustainability of the marine ecosystem
- Amateur fishing has huge tourist potential and economic spin-offs
- Amateur fishing is excluded from less than 1% of American continental waters
- Amateur fishing is a cross-generational, traditional Australian recreational activity which should be encouraged at all levels of Australian government
If the Americans continental waters all went and jumped off a cliff, would you?
Also, here’s that magical 20% again! Do you think this is the same 20% of people who smoke? Do you think they smoke fish? More seriously, is 20% code for ‘yeah, we know we are a minority, but there are seriously quite a lot of us so we deserve to be acknowledged’?
In the rest of the policy, the two things that stood out for me were the lengthy discussion of the Great Barrier Reef and how it’s just fine and we don’t need to worry about it (I suspect they would like to fish there, but they haven’t actually said so) and their general view that since humans ‘are part of life on earth… it is appropriate for humans to interact in all earth’s ecosystems’. It sounds as though they are saying that because humans are part of nature, anything they do is also part of nature and therefore OK and nature can survive it. I could be misunderstanding them, but that’s how it reads to me.
In summary, the AFLP is a party which is trying to start positioning itself as a major party with a range of policies, but basically, they don’t actually find these other issues very interesting. What they really want is to go fishing, and they are tired of people saying that they can’t. I’d be more sympathetic to this view if I had gained the impression anywhere that they acknowledged that one can, in fact, over-fish an area, even if one is fishing for fun rather than for profit.