The Shooters Party seems to have different ideas. Although former MLC John Tingle occasionally claimed to speak on behalf of other groups, he rarely did much about it. Certainly most fishers didn’t take him seriously even if they knew about him. But since replacing Tingle, Robert Brown has been much more active at courting the fishing vote, addressing meetings and generally speaking out against marine parks and other Green inspired schemes to lock fishers out of certain areas.
Brown’s inaugural speech included the following references to fishing:
I mention marine because for too long the fishers have blithely ignored the insidious advance of animal rights extremist ideology into the political spectrum. To those fishers I simply say: Open your eyes and look at the increasing attacks by these zealots on farming and hunting, and be assured that the Shooters Party will continue to fight for you. We will continue to argue for worthwhile access to public lands and waterways for all users. We do not believe in lock it up as a workable solution to conservation, whether it be by the endless declaration of keep-out national parks and reserves or by the proposed declaration of massive no-go marine reserves.
Marine reserves are necessary, but they should be properly planned. Contemporary hunters, fishers, foresters and farmers are all interested in the conservation of biodiversity. They do not need city-based extremists to lecture them on stewardship. Perhaps they need someone to champion their collective conservation ethic, and the Shooters Party will be that champion.
During the 2007 NSW election, there were numerous references to fishing in the party’s campaign literature.
Now Roy Smith’s inaugural speech continues the trend, with the following:
As I mentioned earlier, the Shooters Party is not just about guns. We believe the current marine parks legislation impacts unreasonably on recreational fishing, and we will be urging the Government to review the legislation at the earliest opportunity.
How does the Fishing Party feel about the Shooters moving in on their territory? Well, not surprisingly, it’s not all that enthusiastic.
First, it gave its preferences to the Horse Riders/Outdoor Recreation Party ticket in the State election. That’s 46,000 primary vote preferences that might have been swapped with the Shooters Party but weren’t. No chance of a second seat then.
Second, the Fishing Party might have won the final seat in the Legislative Council if the Shooters Party had not stolen some of its votes. When the lead candidate for the Fishing Party was eliminated, he had 64,000 votes. That’s not far off what is required to win – John Tingle won in 2003 with just 76,000 votes. If the Fishing Party had gathered a few more votes instead of losing them to the Shooters Party, it might have stayed ahead of the Liberal candidate who ultimately won the final seat. At 116,000 votes the Shooters Party had more than enough to spare.
So the question the fishers of NSW are asking is, would they have been better served by a Shooters Party and Fishing Party representative in parliament, or the Shooters Party and Liberal Party representation they ended up with? The answer is not that difficult.
The Shooters Party spends a lot of time attacking other pro-shooting parties, including the Nationals and LDP, arguing that they “split” the shooters vote. Some of its less intelligent supporters even believe that, facts notwithstanding. Yet here is clear proof that the Shooters Party has split the fishing vote, most likely to the detriment of fishers.