Much has been written regarding the parlous state of Coalition Parties in the States and Territories. It is clear that State Coalitions have been “on the nose” since 1996.
When John Howard forced the States to accept his ill-conceived gun bans, he said, “I know many Australians will not agree with these laws, but you can show your contempt at the ballot box.” That was following the Australian Police Ministers Conference in Canberra on May 10th 1996. Since none of those Police Ministers are now in Government, is it time to demand that the “National Firearms Agreement” be overturned?
At each post-1996 State election, Coalition Governments were voted out. Because Gun Laws are a State responsibility, under the Australian Constitution, voters showed their contempt at State level. The NSW Labor Government even increased its majority, but later retired the Police Minister Paul Whelan, who had been present at the fateful APMC meeting on May 10th, 1996.
Efforts are being made, by both Peter Debnam (reminder; he’s the NSW Liberal Leader) and Adrian Piccoli, (Nationals firearms spokesman) to come up with a policy statement in support of sports shooting and private ownership of firearms; they both addressed the AGM of Sydney Branch of Sporting Shooters Association along the lines of “…getting rid of illogical and unreasonable gun laws…”
It is well known how Queensland National Party membership dropped by 30% and funding dropped by 60%, after the 1996 gun laws. A similar result had also occurred in other States which had been held by Liberals.
Queensland Senator Barnaby Joyce made the observation (ABC Radio) that “The Nationals should never have given in on gun laws”. This was further supported during an interview (also on ABC Radio) when Russell Cooper (former Police Minister) confirmed that “…the Howard gun laws were so unpopular that the Nationals were wiped out…”
Highly respected head of NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Dr. Don Weatherburn claimed that he could see no evidence that “Tough Gun Laws” had any effect on crime. (Reported in Sydney Morning Herald, Oct. 29-30, 2005)
The newly elected Canadian Government has taken steps to disband their Firearms Registry after a study found that it was of no help in preventing or solving crimes.
When Howard forced his idea of gun control on the States in 1996, he hadn’t realised that there would be such a backlash. Farmers, hunters, target shooters and others who treated gun ownership as an Australian tradition and who had never committed any crime, resented being treated like criminals. Hundreds of thousands of Liberal and National Party votes were lost.
Beattie swept into Government in 1998, when a newly-formed pro-gun political party (One Nation) gained 12 seats; people voted for O.N. as a clear rejection of the gun laws. Premier Kennett was next to fall, when three pro-gun Independents sided with Bracks. The “belting from the bush” they called it!
Similarly, all other Liberal Premiers were subsequently rolled as each State election came around.
Even Prime Minister Howard’s own electorate of Bennelong is now “marginal”!
Australians have witnessed a massive amount of taxpayer money and police time and effort wasted pursuing Howard’s personal hatred of guns. This has caused considerable inconvenience and expense to those who choose to legally own a firearm, while criminal activity continues.
Meanwhile, other critical Government services such as hospitals, roads and mental health remain starved of funding.
Let’s make a move to overturn the NFA!