Shooting and Fishing Policies

Reading through the Platform I could find no formal position on subjects of either firearms or recreational fishing and hunting, at present the interests of these groups only appears to be served by the Shooters and Fishers Party.
Which while making sense at one level seems like a lost opportunity to appeal to a demographic that considers this issue fairly close to their heart.
Shooters and Fishers party also hold some rather unrelated and regressive views on other areas including on the environment.

I am curious if there is any clarification of official policy that could be added to the platform?

There is no formal position. It is raised every now and then, ordinarily because someone asks for our position on it, but so far nobody has been enthusiastic enough to bring attention to any problems in these areas.

I mean this sincerely: nobody within the party has proposed a policy on firearms or recreational fishing. Anybody outside the party who is interested in these issues has never actually told us what is wrong in this area.

It seems to be a policy impasse where this isn’t even a blip on our radar (even people who shoot and fish within the party don’t seem to care enough) and there is no genuine external impetus.

… appear so narrow and inconsequential even to those who hold them.

Having briefly reviewed the Shooters and Fishers Party (‘SFP’) policy documents on firearms that I could find,1 2 3 here are some thoughts.

Regarding the first document: We could adopt the SFP’s view that firearms remain regulated at the state and territory level, but if there is to be mutual recognition of permits between jurisdictions I think a COAG-engineered model/uniform law would be desirable. Alternatively, we could take the opposite view to the SFP and push for a single federal Firearms Act. I think otherwise we would agree with them that some data-sharing arrangement on firearms registration should be maintained. We’d also agree that using duties, taxies and government agencies to indirectly regulate firearms would be improper (if not unconstitutional).

Regarding the second document: It asserts some kind of undue burden on legitimate firearms owners, but does not explain what that burden is or how it is undue. The claim that gun crime has increased unaffected by legislative amendments is questionable — the Australian Institute of Criminology indicates a general decline in firearm homicides since the mid-1990s4 when the National Firearms Agreement came into effect, but this did not cause an overall reduction in homicides5 (knives seem to have increased in use).4 Likewise, armed robberies have remained less common than unarmed robberies, and both increase and decrease together.6 Thus I have to initially disagree that legislative amendments have failed to have any effect, even if that effect is small.

I would generally agree with the sentiment that criminals do not obey the law, axiomatic as it is — it reflects the reality that the determined will get weapons whether banned or otherwise. As the homicide statistics appear to reflect, people will kill with whatever they have available.

A policy relating to which firearms should be registered would need to take a comparative approach. I would prefer to keep all firearms registered, but in respect of category A and B weapons (the lower end) there may be some argument for abolishing registration subject to determining how well that has worked in Canada, the example cited. I would generally agree that air rifles and paintball guns should not need to be registered (as I understand Australia is one of the few regions where Airsoft may require a firearms licence, which is a bit extreme in my view). With regard repealing the Firearms Amendment (Ammunition Control) Act 2012: repealing legislation merely because it inconveniences people is not a valid reason in my opinion.

I would oppose ‘protection’ as a ‘genuine reason’ for obtaining a firearms licence on the basis that it is flimsy at best. There is some limited evidence in the United States that weapons can be effective in self-defence, but I do not think our situation in Australia warrants this. Firearms training during secondary school would seem available under our ‘bulk billing’ of external electives proposal.7 I thoroughly oppose mandatory sentencing for any crime because it ties judges’ hands and prevents them from matching the appropriate punishment to the crime.

Adequately accommodating an increasing number of shooters seems appropriate. However, exempting former ADF personnel from ‘normal checks’ seems unwise given the evident links between veterans and mental illness and substance abuse. It is reasonable though to reduce the number of hoops a licensed owner must jump through in order to purchase and use accessories such as suppressors that do not actually modify the general operation of the weapon.

Regarding the third document: There is a constitutional basis for federal regulation of firearms — states can delegate this authority if they see fit: s 51(xxxvii). I’m not sure what abolishing the 1996 COAG National Firearms Agreement would achieve (and this is not in fact Commonwealth encroachment anyway). This is mostly a summary of the first and second document.

We have this in the environment policy:

  • Review national park legislation and remove restrictions on volunteerism and community engagement in improving parks.

That would likely encompass increasing access to parks for hunting of feral animals and suchlike. For the rest I concur with Mozart - we haven’t heard anything much even from recreational shooters within the party. Shooters will have a spectrum of views & those who want to change things will presumably be concentrated in the SFP. We have no hostility to them but there seems to be little point plunging into a debate about the Firearms Agreement at this late stage- the guns were all crushed 20 years ago & the public views the subject as closed.

Airsoft is a more current debate & possibly worth looking into from a civil liberty perspective.

Thank you for the clarification of positions that while not formally documented at least gives an understanding of the party inclinations.

With regards to the first document I suspect that the SFP holds the view that firearms remain regulated by the state primarily because they are a state party first and a federal organization second and they prioritise holding on to their concessions won in NSW.
This is mostly cynical speculation however and there might be a genuine ideological approval for competitive federalism within the party,
The states have lost a degree of their consistency regarding which classification certain firearms should fall under with some states banning certain classes of firearms outright in some cases.
A most vexing and baffling case in point would be the WA ban on crossbows.

This inconsistency makes interstate sales or relocation of firearms a nightmare and the lack of a consistent national license means that any licensed person is essentially bound to their present state or facing a small mountain of unfamiliar import and licensing bureaucracy in any attempt to move between states or even to visit for hunting or competition shooting.

In regards to the second document, I can see a degree of the burden placed on legitimate firearms owners.

Firearms can and have been reclassified or retroactively banned by state governments without informing owners despite having registered contact details thereof effectively eliminating their opportunity to appeal or meet conditional provisions under the law.

Firearms licenses are subject to revocation on some very unusual grounds, failure to attend a jury duty summons? Could disqualify your license and you could lose all firearms and ammunition which considering the exorbitant costs of firearms could easily be in excess of $10,000 of seized goods without compensation, you could be charged with offences in most states you never knew existed and have not seen use in years, the offence does not need to be a violent or reckless offence.
You could lose your firearms license and all firearms without compensation if you admit to any mental health issues which is an obvious disincentive for isolated farmers and land owners to seek help for issues when it may cost them their access to essential farm equipment.

The SFP’s claims that gun crime has increased are contrary to evidence that crime overall is decreasing however the Australian Institute of Criminology report also shows that the largest changes to firearms laws 1996 and 2002 bear no relation to the largest sustained drops in gun violence 2000 and 2005.
Gun violence appears to have followed more generalised trends that could possibly be ascribed to cultural and economic changes rather than specific items of gun control legislation.

There shouldn’t be significant issue with registration of firearms even for lower classes with exceptions perhaps being made for less than lethal items like airsoft and painball taggers.

At present spring, electric and gas powered plastic pellet airsoft is effectively banned across Australia as there are no gun clubs that support these classes of shooting and the states have been apparently unwilling to accept any club applications for this purpose.
Other class A and B firearms have a very valid reason to be registered and any national register should probably be proposed on the position that it will reduce the complexity of transporting firearms interstate for competitions or permanent relocation.

I have heard two interpretations of the “protection” class of need defined in the US.

Firstly the obvious protection from other citizens, which is a weak argument as there is little evidence that gun ownership has lead to a net increase in safety, guns are usually of greatest risk to their owners as a readily available means of suicide.

The second interpretation is of protection from the tyranny of the state, which seems a possible and reasonable interpretation of the US constitution having civilian ownership of firearms as a crude safeguard against a fascist state, however looking at the US it is clear there is both a deep need for and complete absence of such an effective safeguard against abuse of powers by the police, defence, security and intelligence agencies.

Thus I would agree that “protection” is a bad class of needs argument, however I feel that all needs arguments are contrived hoops to be jumped through as there is no need in life to collect guns, farmers lives would be more difficult but not impossible without guns thus they have no need as a primary means of production and hunters existed before all classes of firearms thus there is no need for pest control, sports are by definition a luxury rather than a necessity so all gun clubs are a contrived need.
Further for a small exchange of cash there is farmers willing to “officially” give you permission to shoot on their property so that you can obtain a firearm which means the needs assessment is already trivially circumvented and not worth the time.

The needs category for licenses should be removed an in its place more extensive efforts should be made to ascertain that the prospective owner is in a good state of mental health or is actively managing any relevant existing mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.

I thoroughly agree, mandatory sentencing has failed wherever it has been implemented causing more harm than good.

I also agree that veterans while important should not be spared scrutiny when applying for a license due to their history of subsequent mental health issues and also because they should not be afforded different treatment than other law abiding citizens.

In addition I would suggest that there should be less hoops to go through when attempting to purchase additional firearms of equal or lesser calibre, if you have proven you have a safe propery or club to discharge a .
50 cal anti materials rifle there should be little question you have room for a .
22 centre or rim-fire.
Provided your existing storage has capacity and the firearm you wish to acquire is within the same class it should be a streamlined approvals process.

It would definitely be of advantage to see a lowering of restrictions for hunting on crown land potentially only available through a permit process that requires prospectives to go through some form of accreditation and would dissuade the the more cavalier hunters from causing incidents with native wildlife or other users of parks and reserves.
This would also mitigate the immediate response that was seen in the last proposal of this in WA where the counter campaign made claims that it would become a free for all with every man and his dog (in some cases literally)
coming forth to waste ammunition on native flora and fauna between bouts of accidental homicide.

Despite largely successful efforts in NSW and NT (possibly others I haven’t checked)
With regards to the spectrum of views held by shooters it could be hoped that some will comment with their views, as the majority of the population will roll on largely unconcerned if there was a free for all on full automatic grenade launchers or a total ban on everything more dangerous than plastic sporks.

Its only the minority of stakeholders that hold strong positions for or against gun control.

There appears to be some easy voter collection to be had in would be greens voters who hold progressive views but happen to be part of the 800,000 strong gun ownership of Australia, there may also be votes that can be lured away from liberal democrats and other nominally pro and simply not anti gun parties.
Most don’t seem to have any well fleshed out platform.

No party is ever likely to out anti gun the greens
or out pro gun the SFP who Isuspect are eventually pushing for re-classification of semi-automatic firearms.

Again thank you for your time and extensive responses.
I was very pleased to see such a complete and researched answer on the subject that very closely reflects the most reasonable and desired changes to existing laws.

Should this ever be formalized I would happily spread such news to friends and associates who hunt and target shoot as a progressive party with a reasonable view on gun control is an area in the political spectrum not presently served.

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I would also be interested in seeing an official policy from the Pirate Party on these issues.

The other party to look at is the Liberal Democrats (David Leyonhjelm) who have a copyright and patent policy that is almost as good as the Pirate Party, and has similar stances on things like metadata retention and other issues.

The same Liberal Democrats who believe it’s appropriate to have a windfarm commissioner and are particularly anti-science? Mmm.

Small government unless it affects the profits of incumbent business, lel.

Weapons legislation is a state issue. We do not have a state platform yet. It’s not going to be on the agenda until that occurs unless the party determines it should be handled on a federal level at all, but even then, I suspect it would still be put onto a unified state platform.

Fishing I have no idea about, but I can’t imagine a world where that’s an issue that truly divides the kind of voter we want to attract. Fishing is more of a single paragraph in an environment policy than an actual policy area (except for commercial fishing, which is not something that attract the kind of voter that S&F attracts).

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Unsurprisingly, the LDP policy is near-identical to the SFP policy.

It is no secret that the LDP copyright policy is based substantially on that of the Pirate Party.

Agreed. Following the LDP’s lead requires extreme caution.

Also agreed — there’s been no impetus to bother with it on any level.


Parts of the LDP policy are based on the Cato Handbook for Policymakers – I would be happy to see either parties policies, e.g. the current situation with metadata is ridiculous.

A major difference would be on net neutrality – the Pirate Party is in favour of regulating the market to ensure equal socialised access; the LDP is generally opposed to market controls and would prefer competition.

Yes, I agree the Lib Dems stance on windfarms was quite a silly thing to pursue. Although not overwhelming, preliminary science is that they are likely safe.

Even worse is their non-committal stance on climate change; yes, their official policy is that all energy should be fully lifetime costed (which means that fossil fuels prices should include any climate damage they cause), but they avoid addressing it specifically, even though it has very high scientific support (90%+).

On the other hand, for most things they do support the science, e.g. they accept GMOs are safe (similar 90%+ support by scientists), vaccines (again, very high support by scientists), etc.

In the end, I suppose no party is every going to be a perfect match, so you just need to put preferences towards whichever are closest.

It would be good, however, to see the Pirate Party come out with a policing on fishing and shooting.

I suggest we stick to this rather than broader critique of LDP policy.