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Considerations for the upcoming election
As the State election gets closer we have been asked for our views about the different political parties, their attitudes towards shooting and hunting and what issues hunters and shooters should consider when deciding for which party to vote.
These are complicated issues. In thinking about how to respond we have thought about which parties clearly support hunting and shooting, which parties clearly either oppose or are antagonistic towards hunters and shooters, how to assess the parties which support hunting and shooting and to what extent the policies of political parties influence their decisions when putting together their how-to-vote cards.
The first distinction which needs to be drawn is between ‘major’ parties and ‘minor’ parties. Minor parties have an important role to play in promoting, advancing and defending the matters which are important to them and in acting as a pressure point to encourage the major parties to give these issues a high(er) priority.
However, minor parties are not part of government and do not play a role in administering legislation, making executive decisions or managing the public service. They may influence legislation which parliaments pass, but that can happen only when the major parties disagree with each other. There is much talk about the value of having the balance of power but in reality it is no guarantee of influence and the value can be exaggerated.
There are three minor parties which support shooting and hunting. They hope to win seats in the Upper House. They are the Australian Country Alliance, the Liberal Democrats and the Shooters and Fishers Party. There are at least two minor parties which are anti-shooter or antagonistic towards shooters. They are the Greens and the Palmer United Party. For example, not only has Clive Palmer made his views on guns clear, but the Palmer United Party's main Upper House candidate for Northern Victoria was the Greens main candidate for the region in the 2010 state election. The Palmer United Party's second candidate ran as an independent in the 2004 federal election in a Melbourne federal seat, on an anti-logging platform.
Unlike minor parties, the major parties promise the world at their peril because they actually have a chance of being the government and consequently can be held to account for their promises. Major parties can be assessed by both what they say and what they do.
From the point of view of shooting and hunting, the four-year term of this Government has seen major gains in the eyes of many who have been around for a long time. For the SSAA (Vic), I can’t over-estimate the importance of having held on to the Springvale Range.
Our priority for some time has been securing our tenure at the Springvale Range, the lease running out in 2016. We first raised the issue in 2009 with our local member Daniel Andrews who then was the Minister for Health and responsible for cemetery trusts. Our plea fell on deaf ears.
Since the 2010 state election we have taken up the matter with Mr. Andrews' successor, the current Minister for Health, David Davis. Finding a solution has not been easy and has required determination and commitment. However this Government has found a way with a 21-year lease and an option for us to buy the site.
The Coalition has not limited its commitment to hunting and shooting just to the SSAA (Vic). Largely due to the efforts and personal commitment of the Primary Industries Minister Peter Walsh, great advances have been made by hunting and shooting generally. They include the commissioning of a study on the economic impact of hunting which showed that hunting generates $440 million a year for the Victorian economy. The study is helping make hunting a mainstream sport and broadening its acceptance in the wider community.
The Government has also established a statutory Game Management Authority, not only to oversee hunting activities but also to promote hunting as a legitimate mainstream activity with a valuable role to play in the community. In addition, the Government has i) created a new state game reserve near Kerang, and ii) rejected attempts to tighten rules around the transportation and storage of ammunition, powder and components, which would have made life more difficult for shooters.
So far as election policies are concerned, there are two important differences between the Coalition and Labor. The Coalition has said it will not create any more national parks. Labor has failed to match this commitment. The difference is important. Environmentalists and animal liberation groups are campaigning to have a national park created in the Central Highlands. While much of the drive for this campaign is to shut down Victoria's timber industry, hunters have a major interest in this area, and hunting never fares well when national parks are created. In addition, there is a proposition in Labor's platform which would enable the conversion of state parks to national parks. Access to national parks is much more restricted than is access to state parks.
The second significant difference is that the Coalition is putting the Greens last on its how-to-vote- cards, but Labor is not. While Labor has said that it will not do a statewide deal with the Greens, it has put the Greens before the Coalition in all eight Upper House regions. In the case of a few of those regions the Labor votes may be critical to the Greens’ chances.
Finally there is the issue of how-to-vote cards.
The important thing to remember is that minor parties, including those who are pro shooting and hunting, do not take policy into account when doing preference deals. For example, the Shooters and Fishers Party have given their first preference to the Palmer United Party in Northern Victoria, Eastern Victoria and Western Victoria. Notably, Northern Victoria and Eastern Victoria are two regions which hold the best prospects for candidates from parties which support shooting and hunting.
In deciding where to focus their efforts, minor parties do not think about who they are likely to replace. For example, in the Senate elections last year Ricky Muir's success came at the expense of Liberal senator Helen Kroger, who is positive towards shooters. It is hard to see how the cause of shooting has been advanced by this outcome. Further, the Liberal Democrats are targeting the Eastern Metropolitan region which runs from Box Hill south to Glen Waverley and Ferntree Gully, east to Croydon and north to Warrandyte and Eltham. If they succeed it will be at the expense of a Liberal Upper House member, Richard Dalla Riva who is positive towards shooters.
Turning to lower house seats the same situation applies. In a number of marginal seats the how-to-vote cards of minor parties, including parties which support shooting and hunting, have been determined by deals done for Upper House preferences. So remember, unlike the Senate, in Victoria it is easy to vote below-the-line for Upper House candidates. You are required only to number at least five squares from 1 to 5. If you vote below the line you do not have to worry about deals you do not know about.
There are eight Upper House regions. In seven of those regions Country Alliance, the Liberal Democrats and the Shooters and Fishers Party have all nominated. If someone voted for the candidates of those three parties they could also vote for the candidate or candidates of the major party they support and they would not have to worry about the rest. The exception is the South Eastern Metropolitan region in which the Assistant Treasurer, Gordon Rich Phillips, who is positive towards shooters, is standing. This region runs from Mordiallic through Oakleigh South and Clayton and out to Rowville, south to Cranbourne and west to Frankston. The Liberal Democrats and the Shooters and Fishers Party have nominated candidates but Country Alliance has not. So a person could vote for the Liberal Democrat and Shooters and Fishers candidates and then the major party candidates by numbering the squares 1 to 5 and their vote would be valid.
In the case of the Lower House, shooters and hunters should not take at face value the how-to-vote card of a minor party – unless you support the preference deal which has been done.
Fellow shooters, the observations made above are just that – observations. Every voter must assess the platform of all the candidates and decide for themselves whether what is being offered is in keeping with the voter’s aspirations. Importantly, every voter must decide for themselves what is a priority for them. For me, shooting is important and I give it a high priority. So I will judge candidates by what they have to say, what their party intends to do and importantly, what they have already done for the shooting sports.
Hunting and Game Management Action Plan
The Government has delivered on its promise and is providing tangible results for the
The Hunting and Game Management Action Plan includes a range of targeted and
practical actions that:
* promote responsible and humane hunting;
* realise the economic and social benefits of hunting and game management;
* improve opportunities for hunting;
* improve wildlife, conservation and land management outcomes.
View the Government's Hunting and Game Action Management Plan
A major step forward in securing our Springvale Range: a 21-year lease with an option to buy and substantial government funding for the purchase.
As most of you would be aware the lease on the Springvale range was to have expired in mid 2016 and we would have had to vacate the premises after more than 40 years. It would have included taking our ranges and buildings with us!
So losing Springvale is just not an option. That’s why towards the end of 2012 the CEO made direct contact with the Minister for Health. The Minister’s response was favourable and ever since that first contact the Board has been making slow but steady progress towards buying the site outright and achieving permanent tenure.
Three months after the first meeting we were in a position where the political will was there to sell the site to us. The matter then progressed to where we had to navigate the sale through the government bureaucracy. And that’s what has taken more than 18 months - one bureaucratic hurdle after another – including three property valuations, two land surveys, two different zonings, establishing the drainage area, eleven different government departments and a local Council to deal with. A very challenging time indeed.
Nevertheless the Board persevered and on Wednesday the 29th of October a lease-signing ceremony took place at the Springvale Range, or what has now come to be called the Springvale Community Sports Hub. The signing was attended by the Health Minister David Davis, Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (SMCT) CEO Jonathan Tribe, SSAA (Vic) Board members Rob Lemm, Lance Eastwood, Andrew Hepner, Phil Brown, Dave Schereck, myself and our CEO Jack Wegman.
The purpose of the ceremony was to sign a new 21-year lease over the property. However make no mistake! We are still vigorously pursuing the outright purchase of the site. Achieving the 21-year lease was definitely the best short-term outcome to be achieved before the State election caretaker period was called.
Importantly, the lease contains a clause which states that during the lease period the landlord (the SMCT) will do everything it can to facilitate the sale of the property to us. It is a clear signal to the new government – Liberal or Labor – that the objective of the arrangement is to transfer ownership to the SSAA (Vic). So the new lease not only secures our immediate future but also allows us time to pursue our aim of purchasing the property outright.
While finalisation of a purchase is frustratingly close, on any analysis of the options and with the upcoming State election, entering into this lease has been a great outcome.
Further good news and most important, is the announcement that we have also secured government grant funding to assist in the purchase of the property. Again after substantial work at the highest levels, the government has decided to fund a large proportion of the sale with grant monies from the Department of Sport and Recreation. It means we are far less likely to have to borrow from outside sources to secure the range.
In closing, I want to acknowledge the debt of gratitude we owe to the State Government without whose support we would not have been able to achieve this great outcome. And here we owe an especially big ‘Thank You’ to the Health Minister who not only supports the sale to us but also made sure we were in a strong position before the State election. And ‘Thanks’ too to the Minister for Sport and Recreation for the generous funding allocation.
Finally, I want to acknowledge the tremendous amount of work undertaken by the State Office to get us to this point. The challenge has been daunting and the result a credit to our CEO Jack Wegman.
From left - Health Minister David Davis, SSAA (Vic) President Denis Moroney, SSAA (Vic) Board Member David Schereck and members of SMCT
Notice of Decision - Wildlife (State Game Reserves) Regulations 2014
State Game Reserves Submission - October 2014
The Sporting Shooters Association of Victoria have prepared the following submission on the Regulatory Impact Statement of the Wildlife (State Game Reserve) Regulations.
Follow this link to view the submission
BLONDE BAY HOG DEER BALLOT
The Blond Bay Hog Deer Advisory Group and the Game Management Authority is running the ballot for the Hog Deer at Blond bay and Boole Poole Peninsula in Gippsland.
The ballot may be entered for $15 and will be drawn by the SSAA Deerstalkers Club on December 17th 2014.
Applications for the ballot to hunt Hog Deer in 2015 opens 1st August 2014 and closes last mail 30th November 2014.
This ballot represents a real chance of bagging a Hog deer in Victoria.
For more information
Link to online application:
Submission to the Senate - August 2014
The Sporting Shooters Association of Victoria have prepared the following submission to the Senate Standing Legal Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs relating to gun-related violence within our community.
Follow this link to view the submission
MODERNISING THE CONSTITUTION
Over the past eighteen months, the Board and the Company lawyer have been reviewing the Constitution and rectifying major problems. If it is to really serve the best interests of the members, you will need to vote to adopt the recommended, modernised Constitution in the future, 2015.
However, you might hear some people say,
“It’s served us well for forty years”
“There’s no need to change it”
“The Board just wants more power”
Really? Well, no, no and no. But don’t take my word for it.
This is what the company lawyer has to say about it ”… it would be a worthwhile exercise for the SSAA (Vic) Constitution to be updated and modernized … (and so) … it is timely and useful for members to consider a replacement document.”
His advice also says that “The Memorandum and Articles of Association in their present form - abolished since about 1998 - contain outdated, outmoded and anomalous references to both the Companies Act and Corporations Law. Producing a modern document which more closely follows and adopts the current provisions of the Act is likely to be more useful to the Board and to the members in understanding their rights under the Act, than the current document which certainly contains some provisions that are no longer legally effective.
It has not been an easy exercise to bring the existing document into a modern format which perhaps explains why it has not been attempted before. However, in circumstances where the current document has been the subject of a significant number of amendments since 1973, the time is right for renewal.”
Also, for many years, the Constitution made no provision for proxy voting. Well, the Corporations Act says you must make provision for proxy voting. No choice. So we must change the Constitution in order to comply with the law. But what we can do to stop unfair manipulation is to limit the number of proxies any one individual can have. And that’s what the Board is recommending.
Even allowing for the legal jargon, it’s not hard to see the challenge staring us in the face. It really is time to modernize our Constitution.
But how can you really be sure that this isn’t just about the Board trying to get more control? Well, the objective of the SSAA (Vic) Constitution always has and will continue to be about protecting the interests of members. Board members come and go. The Constitution stays. So it is vital we get it right. Looking at what the company lawyer has drafted, we believe we have done that.
Many of you will remember the attempts at modernising made in years gone by, but nothing ever seemed to eventuate. It’s now time to actually move forward. We urge you to vote in favour of modernizing the Constitution when the time comes.
The Proposed Modernised Constitution may be found here.
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714 - 716 Princes Hwy, Springvale 3171
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Eagle Park Range
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9am - 5pm Monday - Friday
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