Election Assessment NSW 2011

May 2, 2011

At the NSW election on 26 March 2011, in the Legislative Council the Liberal/National coalition won 11 seats. Labor won 5, the Greens 3, Christian Democrats 1 and Shooters & Fishers Party 1.  Pauline Hanson was beaten by the Greens for the final seat.

The Christian Democrats vote was reduced by Family First, but not enough to prevent it winning a seat. Subject to Fred Nile’s future, the CDP can continue to win a seat each election. The total Christian vote, comprising CDP plus FF, rose by 8%.

With 148,000 votes (up 39% on 2007), the Shooters and Fishers Party is now also assured of a seat each election subject to performance and personnel.

The Outdoor Recreation Party, the vehicle through which the Liberal Democratic Party contested a state election for the first time, increased its vote by 42% but fell well short of the number needed to gain a seat.

Efforts by the ORP to win the votes of shooters were only marginally successful, unlike among other groups such as 4WD owners, fishers, etc where it did well. Support for the S&FP among these groups, by contrast, was only detected when they were also shooters.

The source of the additional S&FP’s votes is an interesting question. Some may have come from non-shooters due to the party’s change of name and involvement in the marine parks inquiry and river red gum issue in southern NSW.  I doubt if it was many.  In my view most came from shooters who valued Roy Smith’s private members bill. Unlike any of John Tingle’s or Robert Brown’s bills, it delivered clear benefits that were also communicated to every licensee in NSW at taxpayers expense by the Firearms Registry.

Prior to the election the S&FP was telling supporters it expected to have two members elected, giving it a total of three. Considering this would require at least 285,000 votes, two and a half times its previous vote, it was total fantasy. Nonetheless some people, including SSAA (NSW) and the NSW APA, naively repeated it.

Since the election the party has been telling supporters that the involvement of ORP, the Fishing Party and Pauline Hanson prevented it from occurring. This is also complete fantasy as it would have required at least 75% of the combined votes of these three.  Almost three-quarters of voters did not allocate preferences but assuming those who did were representative (not necessarily valid), while 75% of Fishing Party preferences went to the S&FP, only 17% of ORP preferences went to it. Hanson’s preferences weren’t distributed in the count but it’s unlikely so many of them would have gone to the S&FP either.

In 2015, when Robert Borsak will be seeking to win in his own right (he occupies the seat won by Roy Smith and has never faced an election), the S&FP vote may struggle to match the performance of this election irrespective of which other parties or candidates participate. Robert Brown’s agenda, promoting the Game Council and gaining hunting rights in national parks, has limited appeal. Indeed, the Game Council is controversial in some shooting circles. And many doubt Robert Borsak has sufficient skills as a politician to achieve anything at all.

Of course, if they could convince the NSW government to depart from the 1996 APMC agreement and revisit issues such as longarm registration, semi-automatics and large calibre pistols, that would change things considerably.  It would certainly guarantee one seat, and perhaps getting two people elected would not be impossible.


Gun Shops, Politicians and Symbolism

August 23, 2007

Liberal Party politicians in NSW seem to have embraced the anti-gun cause with renewed enthusiasm. That’s interesting, considering they made some effort to court the shooters vote prior to the March 2007 election.

Planning Minister Frank Sartor has implied Labor might not be far behind them, offering to change planning rules to prevent gun shops from being established near schools. But Sartor is a stirrer and motor mouth, so who knows what his real views are.

Shooters Party MLC Robert Brown has at last spoken to the media about something controversial, but failed to cover himself with glory. The Daily Telegraph reported he “laughed” when told about parent concerns. Would the old fox John Tingle have handled it better?

The Member for SSAA, Roy Smith, has not been heard.

The issue is, of course, symbolic nonsense. If gun shops are dangerous near schools, armed police must be as well. A gun is a gun and if proximity is the source of the concerns, it makes no difference who has it.

The real issue is not whether the local Council reverses its decision, Sartor calls it in, or even Brown’s handling of the media. It is how the major parties view it in symbolic terms. Will they see more political capital in opposing gun shops, supporting them, or ducking the issue? And how should shooters respond to that?

Brown and Smith have a declared policy of voting with the Government on most issues. Will that change in light of this episode? How does it maximise their ability to change the balance of political capital. Will they run a Shooters Party candidate in 2011 against the Liberal MPs who are sounding off?

This is the sort of symbolic issue that sorts out politicians. It’s watch and wait.


Should The Shooters Party Contest The Federal Election?

August 12, 2007

The Australian Shooters Party (ASP) will shortly be registered federally. It was deregistered in 2004, re-registered in 2006 and then deregistered along with all the minor parties late in 2006. Its imminent reregistration will allow it to enter the federal election if it so decides.

The last time the ASP stood candidates in a federal election was 1998 when it nominated candidates in Victoria for the Senate. In its home state of NSW it has not entered a federal election since the 1996 Lindsay by-election. Indeed, the reason it was de-registered in 2004, just a few weeks prior to the election in that year, was that it had not entered enough elections. Parties that do not contest elections for four years are automatically deregistered.

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With Love From The Shooters Party

June 17, 2007

For about two years I have been receiving obnoxious letters in the mail.

All the envelopes are addressed in scrawly, childlike handwriting, probably written by a right handed person using their left hand or vice versa. The letters themselves were either written in the same handwriting or composed of items cut from a newspaper. These were mostly words or letters but in one case comprised a picture of a woman’s genitals.

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Splitting The Vote

June 3, 2007

The Shooters Party represents shooters and the Fishing Party represents fishers, right? They are both single issue parties whose focus is defined by their name, or so most people would assume.

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.

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Bought and paid for

April 11, 2007

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.

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The Fishos Show How To Do It

April 5, 2007

The Shooters Party is a unique political party. As I have written previously, it does not believe in contesting elections in general. Rather, it only ever nominates candidates for the upper house of the NSW parliament.

The Fishing Party has quite a different outlook. It believes political parties exist to contest elections. As a consequence, although it failed to gain a seat in the Upper House, its preferences in the Lower House were crucial in determining the outcome of the seat of Port Stephens. Just 501 preferences from the Fishing Party pushed the Liberal Party ahead of Labor so that, notwithstanding Green preferences, the Liberals won by 368 votes.

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