For the first time in two decades, Queensland’s largest shooting advocacy group has reversed its politically neutral stance and is advising its 68,000 membership base to put the major parties last at the forthcoming state election.
The Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (Queensland) said it was doing this because of an “increasingly hostile environment towards shooters in Queensland”.
The lobby group usually operates under the principle of only giving members information about each party’s stance on lawful firearms ownership, but president Bob Green said the political environment had changed, with both major parties actively working against shooters’ interests by restricting vintage shotgun technology, opposing advertisements for legal businesses, and demonising law-abiding shooters in the media.
“We’ve had enough. We are members of the community like everyone else and we’re bloody sick and tired of being treated like criminals by politicians,” he said. “For the first time in two decades we’re telling our members how to vote. We’re calling on them to put the major parties last and vote for a third party or independent, particularly one who supports our sport.”
Katter’s Australian Party candidates are expected to be the major beneficiary of this move, as the SSAA has called for volunteers to help them.
Seats where KAP has candidates include Callide, Condamine, Cook, Hill, Hinchinbrook, Mundingburra, Thuringowa, Traeger, Warrego and Whitsunday.
Major parties respond
When asked for a response, an LNP spokesman said they would “also put community safety first and don’t support US style gun laws”.
The LNP released its weapons policy, titled Fairer Gun Laws, in September, in which it promised to renew all existing category H weapons licences for primary producers.
In its wake, KAP’s state leader, Robbie Katter said the party would support all aspects of the policy, with the exception of the category H stance, should it retain its crossbench power in the next Parliament.
State Police Minister, Mark Ryan, described the new LNP policy as “weakening current gun laws as part of a preference deal with One Nation”.
Responding to the SSAA announcement, a spokesman for the Premier, who last month changed the classification of high capacity lever action shotguns to restrict their availability, with the support of the LNP, was keen to keep the spotlight on the LNP.
The LNP’s Member for Gympie, Tony Perrett, crossed the floor to oppose the legislative change.
The Premier’s spokesman rationalised the classification change as being in keeping with the terms of the National Firearms Agreement, signed off by Premier Palaszczuk and all other state and territory leaders in December 2016.
“This change applies to a very small number of guns and has absolutely no impact on the vast majority of Queensland’s law-abiding gun owners,” he said.
SSAA president, Bob Green said the future of shooting as a sport was under threat.
“We must take decisive political action to ensure citizens can continue to enjoy and succeed at it,” he said, adding that political strategists from all parties should pay serious attention to the move, as it could have serious ramifications on polling day.
“Some 68,000 people across the state are actively considering alternative candidates to vote for – candidates that support the shooting sports and the interests of rural and regional Queensland too.”