And now we come to the Shooters and Fishers Party, not to be confused with the Fishing and Lifestyle Party. Who knew that fishing could spark so much political interest? If you count the Country Alliance, and I really think you should, that makes three parties so far that love fishing so much that they want to go to the Senate to protect their rights to it.
But if they are in the Senate, when will they find the time to fish?
I shall now endeavour to take this party seriously, starting with their Group Voting Ticket, which bears such a striking similarity to that of the Fishing and Lifestyle Party that I had to check twice that I hadn’t written up the wrong one. But apparently not. And on a side-by-side comparison, it turns out that they really are identical tickets, with the only difference being which of the two is at the top and which is at 17-18. So, we have Australian Voice (who I am beginning to suspect are not opera singers at all, but Country and Western), the Motoring Enthusiasts, Bullet Trains, Bank Reform, the Australian Independents, and Family First near the top of the ticket, we have preferences going to the Liberals and Nationals, and the bottom of the ticket is once again the Animal Justice mob, the Socialists and the Greens.
So much for that.
Visiting the Shooters and Fishers website, I learn that they are protecting my freedoms and the future of outdoor sports, which is nice of them, because I never even asked them to! Their logo is open to amusing misinterpretation by the low-minded, and that’s all I’m saying about that.
On their ‘About’ page, we soon discover that:
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.
My favourite line is the bit about ‘advocating for the politically incorrect, a voice of reason, science and conservation’ – this sounds to me a lot like they think being politically incorrect *is* being reasonable, and that any arguments against it are purely emotional ones. I have to say, my feminist hackles are rising just a tad here – I feel as though I’m about to be patronised.
Looking at the rest of their statement, it’s very much the profile of a right-wing, slightly old-fashioned party. We have the nod to the military, the family values, and the rural Australian feel. The ‘fair go for all, but not at the expense of others’ sounds like they are opposed to affirmative action, and the combination of multicultural and committed to Australian values is trying not to be racist and anti-Muslim, but not quite managing it there.
Before going to look at their policies, I poked my nose into their news section, which was talking about right-wing micro-parties possibly being dummy parties designed to funnel votes to each other. In particular, they complain about the LDP with which they had an agreement to preference each other above the Liberals – however the LDP apparently reneged on this (in Victoria, as we have seen, it didn’t even lodge a ticket in the end).
This bit is pretty fascinating:
Did you know that a vote for KAP will be a vote for the LDP and for Labor? That a vote for One Nation is a vote for the Greens? That a vote for Clive Palmer is a vote for the Greens?
Checking the Victorian lists, One Nation didn’t actually lodge a ticket, but the rest seems to be true. What’s really interesting is how personally the Shooters and Fishers are taking this – they seem to feel that this is aimed specifically at them.
Moving onto the policies, we seem to have a fairly similar profile to that of the Country Alliance. The Shooters and Fishers are big on access to public lands for recreational activities, and outlawing animal activist ‘hate campaigning and terrorism’. Can you actually call protesting hunting hate campaigning? I don’t think objecting to or protesting something that people choose to do where there is no necessity involved is quite the same as making threats or protests based on someone’s skin colour, sexuality or similar. There is a definite thread of ‘greenie terrorists holding Australia to ransom’ throughout this policy document.
They want to roll back the National Firearms Agreement which was the one good thing that Howard did, in my view. Though, to be fair, this is the Shooters and Fishers party, so one can’t reasonably expect them not to like guns. And speaking of guns, they would like us to increase our defence spending and build up our army.
Like the Bank Reformers, the Shooters and Fishers want to reduce the monopolies and duopolies in the areas of groceries, fuel, etc.
While they support foreign aid, they want it to be within budget, and they are worried about border protection in a big way. And yes, they talk about illegal asylum seekers. Of course they do.
Interestingly, the Shooters and Fishers are concerned about loss of biodiversity, and feel that active community involvement is required to fix things – using ‘adaptive management’ rather than national parks. Equally, they are dubious about marine protected areas, and are in favour of fuel load reduction, and want co-ordinated action against invasive species. They support ‘sustainable use’ of native species. So far, they are actually looking a bit more measured than the Fishing and Lifestyle party. Though they also want to promote hunting and fishing tourism, and think that fishermen are being unfairly picked on (and it’s all the fault of those lousy Greenies).
The Shooters and Fishers want to expand agriculture, and keep Australian lands Australian owned and they want to improve water storage and distribution. They also want to ease taxation and legislative burdens on small businesses, which is good so far as it goes, but part of this burden seems to be legislation about how you get to treat your employees, which is less good.
Then you get this little piece of weirdness:
More seriously, there seems to be something missing somewhere from this policy or from the preamble – if all Australians are horrified, this presumably includes the Shooters and Fishers – so why are they blithely supporting expansion without at least mentioning any kind of restrictions or, well, anything? I find this very odd.
Back to the environment, and this is where things go downhill very rapidly. On the one hand, the Shooters and Fishers want us to be energy self-sufficient, which sounds great. But they want to do this by expanding mining (and getting rid of the mining tax, naturally), getting rid of the carbon tax, and stop subsidising renewable energy, because in their view, it’s expensive and we don’t need it yet:
Any way you look at this, it’s short-sighted. Our resources may still be vast, but they are finite. It makes sense to look ahead now to what we will do when they run out. And, quite frankly, if your party is all about hunting and fishing in the great outdoors, surely it is counterproductive to dig up the entire outdoors in order to get at coal and uranium reserves. This policy simply doesn’t make sense.
And that’s about it. I give the Shooters and Fishers Party credit for clearly trying to move away from being *just* about hunting and fishing into having a broader policy platform – this is, I think, a significant step forward since the last election. But oh, the policies they are putting on that platform!
(and seriously – what is everyone’s obsession with fishing?)