Shooting for a messenger

If you’re waiting for an apology to Game Council officer Andy Mallen, don’t bother. But don’t fret about it, either. In the end, Fairfax Media is just a messenger.

I spoke to the journalist who penned most of the Fairfax stories we rail against, after he reported on potential insurance ramifications for bushwalkers when conservation hunters begin stalking national parks. Heath Aston was adamant he had no agenda at all, let alone an anti-hunting one.

Whether he and Fairfax intend it or not, there’s clearly a bias, and while it’s not customary to shoot the messenger, sometimes messengers needs a kick up the backside, especially when they claims “scalps”. But that, and boycotts of Fairfax, are not what I’m getting at here.

I suspect half the problem is that the antis are in Aston’s ear. The other half is that virtually no one in the hunting community will speak to him. Trouble is, if no one provides our side of a story, journalists will always have a one-sided story.

Hunting and shooting need a spokesperson, a go-to person who knows his or her stuff, can speak well and will push our points in the way journalists can digest. We don’t have that person.

The NSW SSAA is trying very hard to speak up, but they’re not really being strident enough. And they’ve been hamstrung in some of their efforts by the refusal of some media to publish their opinions. They probably have more resources than any single shooting organisation in Australia, given their size, so if they keep developing their skills and tactics they may prove excellent.

The Shooters and Fishers Party politicians have learned to avoid most of the media after repeated bashings. I don’t blame them for ducking the limelight, because it’s often used to burn them, and they can best achieve their primary tasks in the houses of parliament, where their real work is done.

The NSW SSAA and SFP are only directly relevant to NSW as of right now, even though both have interstate arms and the media often reports across borders, too. What about nationally?

There’s only the SSAA’s overall body. And as our readers have repeatedly pointed out in comments, they’ve been silent. I wish I could give you some insights into why, or what they’ve been doing, but I can’t. As an SSAA member I’m almost always in the dark. As a journalist, I’ve never received a reply to queries.

We don’t want or need the fist-thumping rhetoric of America’s NRA, which would only be a liability in the long run here in Australia. We need at least one clear, concise and well argued proponent who can put across our arguments with confidence. We need a messenger.

Who will do it? Who will fund it?





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Mick Matheson

Mick grew up with guns and journalism, and has included both in his career. A life-long hunter, he has long-distant military experience and holds licence categories A, B and H. In the glory days of print media, he edited six national magazines in total, and has written about, photographed and filmed firearms and hunting for more than 15 years.