The Shooters & Fishers Party is here to protect your freedoms and he future of outdoor sports. Their website is rather NSW-centric – they have a lot of information about the NSW election in 2015, including specific policies, but nothing whatsoever for the Victorian election. I am not feeling the love, here. The S&F does, however, have a FaceBook page for their Victorian branch, which they are mostly using to introduce their members, and to tell us how to vote. I’ll be looking at their Federal Policies, or at least those that are relevant to Victoria, but in one sense, it doesn’t matter too much. The Shooters and Fishers are precisely what it says on the box – a party for people who like hunting, fishing and outdoor sports:
S&F is the voice of hunters, shooters, fishers, rural and regional Australia and independent thinking Australians everywhere. Advocating for the politically incorrect, a voice of reason, science and conservation. S&F is about sustainable utilisation of Australia’s resources. Conservative in family values, we honour and value the family unit as the basic building block of our society. We believe in a fair go for all, but not at the expense of others. S&F respects and honours our democratic traditions and those in our history who fought and died for us so that we may enjoy the freedoms that we now have. S&F believes in a multicultural society, committed to Australian values above all others.
I love ‘independent thinking Australians everywhere’. S&F have clearly not been taken in by those leftist-controlled Universities, no, not them! I’m also quite partial to the bit about advocating for the politically-incorrect. The right to offend people is such an important one…
Seriously, though, with this statement, S&F places itself very firmly on the conservative, right-wing end of the political system. It has it all – family values, respect for the military, and multiculturalism, provided you are a good Aussie about it. You know where you stand with this lot.
On their front page, S&F has a rotating header, which really is about NSW, but is still indicative of their priorities. The three banners are: “Safeguarding the environment – simply locking up the landscape isn’t enough. Biodiversity conservation demands a new fresh approach”, “Society and service delivery – city-centric government has neglected regional NSW and those who love the outdoors for too long”, and “Fair recreational access – we’ll fight for greater access to all public land and waters in NSW”.
So we have another party that very much aligns itself with rural Australia. It’s a pity they have forgotten about Victoria – such a missed opportunity to join in the general courtship of Gippsland…
Looking at their Group Voting Tickets, S&F are pretty clear on what they do and do not like. It will come as no surprise to anyone that the Greens and the Animal Justice Party can be found on the bottom of every single Group Voting Ticket. Their visions are not precisely aligned. The Liberal Party and the ALP can be found just above the Greens, and S&F seems to particularly enjoy alternating ALP and Liberal candidates down the line, just to make life as difficult as possible for everyone concerned. The Voluntary Euthanasia Party and the Sex Party are also in the bottom five of every ticket on which they exist.
At the top of the ticket, we alternate between Palmer United, Country Alliance, Family First, the Australian Christians, the DLP and Rise Up Australia. The order varies, but they are all high on every ticket. The LDP is also in the top five on most tickets, and the Cyclists and People Power are sometimes seen in this auspicious company.
One of the interesting things about S&F is that I think they really do see themselves as an environmental issues party. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that they view themselves as the true Green party. After all, they *like* spending time in the outdoors – which is why they are so big on public access – and they value it accordingly. While this is not stated directly, it seems to me that they want our environment to be managed by the people who actually interact with it most and are passionate about it (i.e., people like themselves) – and not by a government who they view as not really connected with or serious about the issue. I think they see themselves as old-fashioned foresters – people who spent their lives looking after the forest and making a living from it by logging and hunting. The trouble is, I’m not sure this approach works in an industrialised country, where one can’t make much of a living from this without doing it on a large (and destructive) scale.
Here’s what they have to say about biodiversity:
Biodiversity conservation must be maintained along with social and economic activity. The two are not mutually exclusive. Biodiversity Australia-wide is continuing to be lost and reversing the ongoing loss of biodiversity requires radical change to current approaches including active involvement of the community. New and effective approaches to biodiversity conservation are essential and need to be implemented urgently. Active ‘adaptive management’ must replace the passive ‘lock-it-up-and-leave-it’ approach of the past. The Shooters and Fishers Party will ensure that decisions taken by natural resource managers give balanced consideration to environmental, social and economic issues irrespective of the land classification.
So the S&F party is concerned about biodiversity and the threat posed by invasive species, but they think that the Government should engage with the community to solve the problem. They support the goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity, in particular the principle of Sustainable Use Policy as ratified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. And they support marine reserves – but only on the basis of sound scientific evidence. They are also concerned about population growth and whether our population is environmentally sustainable.
Of course, they also support ‘sustainable’ logging, nature-based ‘hunting and fishing tourism’, and the mining industry. They believe that global warming is a lie, and thus oppose the carbon tax, the mining tax, and investment into renewable energies, which they view as wasteful. And they want Australia to be self sufficient in oil, and to export coal.
I honestly don’t understand how they can hold both these sets of ideas in their heads. It seems as though, on the one hand, here’s a group of people who love being out in the bush or in boats, enjoying the natural world – but they seem to have no awareness that their policies are likely to make this natural world less available to them, through pollution, if nothing else. It’s interesting, too – while the environment is definitely valued in this worldview, it’s valued as something for humans to interact with – not as something that has an intrinsic importance.
The S&F party is big on food and water security, and want to build more dams and develop more land for agriculture – and again I ask, where are they going to do all their outdoor activities if all the land is used for intensive farming?
Unsurprisingly, the S&F party likes guns, and wants to abolish the 1996 National Firearms Agreement. They are also against any sort of firearms registry. Essentially, they feel that since the massacre at Port Arthur, responsible gun owners have found themselves being tarred with the same brush as Martin Bryant, and object to being defined by the actions of a madman and a criminal. While I am sympathetic to the unfairness of viewing all gun owners as being like one particular gun owner, I’m afraid I’m still inclined to think that we don’t actually need to be a well-armed community. Yes, it’s people who kill people, but guns are a very efficient tool for this purpose, having been designed for just that, and I don’t think the right to be armed trumps someone else’s right to safety.
In economic matters, the S&F party is in favour of small business and against monopolies and duopolies.
They also want to expand the live export trade, which will make them oh-so-popular with the Animal Justice Party – but that’s OK with the Shooters and Fishers, because they are also against animal activist terrorism and want to bring in a Bill outlawing animal-liberation-based hate crimes. Wow. On the one hand, it’s really nice to see the word ‘terrorism’ in a policy, with nary a Muslim in sight. On the other hand… animal-liberation-based hate crimes?
(And also, what is actually wrong with laws against violence or destruction of property? Why do we have to have a special law for this? I am so tired of terrorism laws…)
The S&F party is pro-military, and wants to increase our defense capacity. On international affairs and border protection, they take a stance that is somewhere between patriotic, protectionistic and xenophobic. They do not like foreign ownership of Australian land or resources (and I’m right there with them on this), they don’t like asylum seekers (I’m not there with them on that), they want to strengthen our border control, and while they think we have a moral obligation to assist other countries with foreign aid in times of need, this should not be at the expense of spending money on Australia.
And that’s about it for the Shooters and Fishers. A pleasingly straightforward bunch, if nothing else. But I do wonder about their logical consistency.