According to comments by Shooters Party MPs, the government’s determination to close Malabar as a shooting range is a fait accompli.
In an email on 30 November 2007, Robert Brown said (in bold), “The State and Federal Governments have made it plain that the issue is non-negotiable.”
On 4 December Brown and Smith issued a press release demanding that the government allocate $20 million to a new range. They did not demand the decision be reversed.
In a newsletter on 18 December Robert Brown said, “We expressed The Shooters Party opposition to the move but the decision has been made – there is nothing further that can be done except get the best deal possible for those who use the range.”
The source of this supposed decision is a speech by the member for Maroubra, Michael Daley, on 30 November, just 5 days after the federal election at which Labor was elected.
Daley said, “The New South Wales Government’s position and now the Federal Government’s position is likely to be that the shooters be relocated and that the headland be handed over.”
Daley’s speech also included this sentence: “We have consulted the shooters involved and secured their agreement in the matter. ”
Does “likely to be” indicate “the decision has been made” or a “fait accompli” to you? And which “shooters” were consulted and agreed to the closure of Anzac?
In my opinion Daley can only have been referring to Brown and Smith. In practical terms, nobody else could have been consulted in the 5 days since the election. Certainly not SSAA Sydney branch, NSWRA or any of the other large organisations that use the range.
What Daley seems to be indicating is that Brown and Smith consented to the closure of Malabar. And that’s why they are calling it a ‘fait accompli’.
Writing about the topic on the Shooters Party forum, John Tingle said: “Yes, of course we will want to fight it, but the fight’s been over for years.”
Tingle is plain wrong. In fact, the fight was almost won just prior to the federal election when the Liberals announced the NSWRA would be granted a long term lease. Brown admitted as much in his announcement. But Tingle has long had a defeatist attitude to Malabar, in part because the NSWRA has never been a keen supporter of the party. That mentality now seems to have infected Robert Brown and Roy Smith.
Just as there was when the Liberal government wanted to close Malabar for shooting, there is a great deal that can be done to reverse the decision. Anyone who knows anything about politics knows that few political decisions are ever non-negotiable.
In particular, Brown and Smith have a pivotal vote in the Legislative Council. Without them, the Greens and Coalition could combine to defeat government legislation. But in reality they only ever vote against Labor on procedural matters. On substantive issues both Brown and Smith are obedient Labor supporters. Indeed, so reliable are they that neither Labor nor the Coalition bother to lobby them in most cases. It’s simply unnecessary.
If Brown and Smith were to notify the Government that it could no longer rely on their votes, their leverage would be quite considerable. And with Labor in government in Canberra, the message would be passed on to their federal brothers very rapidly.
We were told that with a second Shooters Party member in Parliament, shooters would be able to hold the government to account. Looks like that’s been proved wrong at the first hurdle.