/Are gun owners putting votes behind One Nation and the Shooters party?

Are gun owners putting votes behind One Nation and the Shooters party?

Posted

May 11, 2019 05:13:02

Australia’s gun laws made headlines again recently, after the Christchurch terrorist attack and subsequent revelations One Nation figures met with the American gun lobby.

It has renewed concerns that minor parties want to wind back Australia’s strict gun control regime and are trying to use this election to garner support.

So, as the federal election approaches, are firearm users in regional areas planning to vote for minor parties who advocate for them?

Abandoning the LNP over gun rights

Each morning, grazier Brendan Slattery has an often-grim task: jumping on his motorbike to check if his lambs were attacked overnight.

“The dingoes are just into us like it’s going out of fashion,” says Mr Slattery, who lives three hours west of Brisbane, near Inglewood.

His days are long and rough, farming sheep and fat lambs in heavily timbered, “rugged” country.

Wild dogs and other pests are a big problem for many farmers across Australia, killing livestock and costing hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

Mr Slattery sets traps to try to catch wild dogs, then destroys them with a rifle. But it’s not his preferred “tool of the trade”.

“The pistol is easy to carry around, it’s under your arm, it doesn’t get caught on trees or whatever,” he says.

There has been no law change, but a Queensland crackdown on pistol ownership meant Mr Slattery had to hand his in.

He wants it back so badly he is ditching the LNP.

“It doesn’t matter whether its guns, water, fences — nothing gets done,” he said.

“I’ll definitely be voting for One Nation.”

Sports shooting: ‘There are bigger fish to fry’

Further south in Orange, in the central-west of New South Wales, the Brus family does have access to pistols.

Supported by wife and mother Janine, Dean and Pete are the first father-son team to represent Australia in pistol shooting.

“It’s been a very integral part of my life and for my family’s life,” Mr Brus says.

The state seat is held by the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, a cash-strapped party struggling to truly contest this election.

Federally, the seat is safe Nationals territory, and Mr Brus believes those two parties have got the balance right.

“We’ve got a lot bigger fish to fry, there’s a lot bigger issues in our world than licensed gun owners,” Mr Brus says.

$77 million in grants go to gun clubs, complexes

Several minor parties have been known for flaunting their love for guns.

One Nation was secretly caught with US gun lobbyists from the National Rifle Association, which the party insists was not about sourcing money, and could hold positions of influence in the new-look Senate.

Figures collated by Gun Control Australia show over five years, $77 million in state and Commonwealth grants have been handed to gun clubs and shooting complexes.

“It was quite a tedious process, it required looking at annual reports, particularly in relation to sport and recreational government annual reports, also looking at budget papers for each state and territory,” Gun Control Australia president Samantha Lee said.

“What we are concerned about is that possibly funds are being directed or being used as a way to gain popularity within certain communities within Australia and whether, in this case, the increase in funds is a way of trying to get the gun vote onside.”

The ABC has contacted Shooting Australia for comment.

More guns for farmers unlikely: grazier

Mark Horan runs livestock at Braidwood, outside of Canberra, and like many of his peers mainly uses guns to control wild animals.

“Foxes are pretty bad here — one year we lost 280 lambs to foxes,” Mr Horan says.

“For people on the land, firearms are a tool, same as a hammer or a pair of pliers.”

He says regulations could be onerous, agreeing pistols are easier to carry around, but he thinks it is a pointless argument.

“Politicians generally listen to what they’re being told by people who say it the loudest, and I don’t think that farmers had a loud enough voice in the early days.

“The consequences for a politician to run backwards on firearms is no good for them at all.”

So, could gun votes influence this election?

“There are votes in guns, but I don’t think there’s enough to make a difference,” Mr Horan says.

“I can’t see votes ever getting good for lesser gun control.”

Topics:

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federal-elections,

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