The anti-hunting movement continues to assail responsible NSW hunters with highly offensive statements and descriptors born of nothing more complicated than cultural intolerance. While we may have come to expect this contemptible behaviour, albeit reluctantly, from ill-informed and bigoted extremists, I have to ask the question – is it acceptable from taxpayer subsidised political representatives?
The Greens have become the standard-bearers for cultural intolerance in NSW. Failure to agree with the Green point of view can result in victimisation, public ridicule, misrepresentation and grossly offensive abuse, not only under the seal of Parliamentary Privilege, but also on the street, in the media and in party propaganda.
NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge thinks nothing of referring to hunters as “weekend warriors” and “thrill killers”, associating them with drunkenness, gross cruelty and all manner of anti-social behaviour. This is highly offensive to people who strive, responsibly and in accordance with the law, to preserve a cultural and to many a highly spiritual practice of thousands of years standing. The fact that the Greens may not approve of it, does not make it any less so.
Let’s be clear, I do not question the right of any citizen to express her/his views about hunting as their conscience dictates, when it is done respectfully. What is totally unacceptable is the use of emotive and offensive epithets aimed at whipping-up community hatred of a long standing cultural practice that the Greens and their supporters are intolerant of.
Perhaps the solution to this problem lies in the following advice from Simon Rice OAM, Director of Law Reform and Social Justice at the ANU College of Law:
Australia is obliged under international human rights law to prohibit incitement to racial hatred (Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights). The Commonwealth, every state, and the ACT (but not the Northern Territory) make racial vilification at least ‘unlawful’, and at times a criminal offence. In such laws the words ‘racial’ and ‘race’ are used not for a pseudo-scientific purpose, but as shorthand for the many ways that a person’s own and perceived identity turns on personal attributes such as their physical appearance, where they were born and raised, their culture, and their traditions. As a result, ‘racial’ vilification laws protect against hateful conduct that occurs because of, for example, a person’s nationality, ethnicity and culture.
The advice above may not only have implications for Australia’s indigenous hunters, but also for the many people from foreign shores who now call Australia home, whose countries of origin may have long-standing or even ancient cultural hunting traditions. For those of us who are unable to claim such a link, the definition of “ethnicity” may also be relevant.
Many believe, erroneously, that ‘ethnic’ means foreign. In fact the Oxford Dictionary defines ‘ethnicity’ as “traits, background, allegiance, or association.” Ergo, might it not be said that coming from a rural background and being allied with principles of feral animal control and game management, in association with an Approved Hunting Organisation, hunting is in fact my ethnicity? I am proud to say that I consider responsible hunting to be part of my identity.
Responsible, law-abiding hunters in this community are tired of the appalling and often tax-payer subsidised abuse meted out to them by the Greens and their cohort. I call on those responsible to cease their attempts to foster a climate of cultural intolerance in NSW, and to send a clear message to their leaders indicating that such behaviour is unacceptable in the Bega Valley.
This opinion piece was initially submitted to the Bega District News, which published it last Monday. Garry Mallard is the secretary of the Bega Valley Traditional Archers and has a blog called the Hunters Stand.