The idea that Roy Smith’s election to the NSW Legislative Council is a victory for the Shooters Party flies in the face of the facts. The seat belongs to the SSAA, which funded and managed the campaign. The Shooters Party was merely the vehicle it used for the purpose.
An examination of expenditure and votes demonstrates the point.
The Shooters Party has now “won” a LC seat on three occasions: 1995, 2003 and 2007. It failed in 1999. Its campaign budget in 1999 was almost $300,000, with 56,000 votes won. In 2003 the budget was $410,000 with 76,000 votes won. This time 106,000 votes were cast for the party with the budget of at least $850,000.
Direct expenditure was about $710,000 according to a statement by Robert Brown to a SSAA meeting in March. Of that, $220,000 was electoral funding as a result of the victory in 2003. Membership dues and donations from a few clubs probably lifted that to around $270,000. The SSAA contributed the rest.
SSAA NSW donated $250,000 and Sydney branch $100,000. Other branches are understood to have also donated to bring up the total.
‘In-kind’ expenditure by SSAA NSW was substantial. It printed a full colour insert for the monthly magazine, devoted most of the monthly newsletters to promoting the campaign and wrote a personal letter to every NSW member. Each of these involved printing 35,000 copies plus the cost of postage (additional or full).
There was also the use of SSAA staff. Overall campaign manager was Michael Gill, a full time SSAA employee. Adam Leto, SSAA’s full time Communications Officer, wrote much of the campaign material. Alison Newberry, an employee of the SSAA’s indoor range at St Mary’s, coordinated election booth manning. And of course there was Roy himself, who is a full time SSAA employee.
Most of these individuals worked on the campaign for 5-6 months, doing little else from early January. I estimate their combined salary costs during this time to be at least $70-80,000.
The other main campaign participant was Paul McNabb, whose advertising agency produced and ran the radio advertising. McNabb is a volunteer member of the SSAA NSW board and not a member of the Shooters Party. Indeed, Shooters Party personnel were not significantly involved in the campaign.
The cost per vote in 1999 was $5.36, in 2003 it was $5.38 and in 2007 $8.01. The increase in votes between 2003 and 2007 was 30,000, with each extra vote costing $14.67. That far exceeds the expenditure per vote of the major parties.
Such a level of commitment and expenditure is never likely to be repeated. Roy Smith has been central to the SSAA in NSW for over 10 years. Until he was offered the number one ticket position, relations between the SSAA and Shooters Party alternated between tepid and cool. If nothing else, Robert Brown’s strong support for making Game Licences a genuine reason for a firearms licence, which would be devastating to SSAA membership, guarantees he’ll never attract such support in 2011.
Roy Smith has every reason to call himself “the member for SSAA”. His position has been bought and paid for.