Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie explains her love of hunting and shooting.
Nationals Senator for Victoria, Bridget McKenzie, has been at it again, flying the flag for law-abiding shooters all around the country. Earlier this week McKenzie explained her love of hunting and shooting in this article in the Sydney Morning Herald.
According to the article, as a girl growing up in the Victorian High Country, her father refused to allow guns in the household. But late at night she would go out with her best friend to shoot rabbits and foxes.
“As girls we weren’t allowed to have the guns, we just got to carry the rabbits,” she said. “The dads and the older brothers did the shooting. When I got older I got to have a go at pig shooting. It’s something I always wanted to do.
Life, however, got in the way: a career as a school teacher and university lecturer, marriage, four children, a divorce. Two decades passed without firing a gun. Now shehas embraced the cause with all the fervour of the born again.
McKenzie believes Australian gun ownersare too often treated like “terrorists” and “rednecks” by those in the big citieswho have never taken an interest in their way of life.
“There’s a lot of snobbery and elitism that I find offensive and I really want to challenge it.”
Once described in Parliament by Nationals colleague Barnaby Joyce as a “flash bit of kit”, McKenzie is tall, blonde and usually sportspearl earrings.Airport staff, she says, often have a “physical reaction”when she checks in her Beretta Silver Pigeon shotgun.
McKenzie has shot pheasants in New Zealand andwoodcocksin the Scottish Isles. She is planning to godeer huntingwith Motoring Enthusiast Party senator Ricky Muir.
Earlier this year she wentduckshooting near Gippsland.
“It was quite a moving experience,” McKenzie recalls.
“We sat in the dark, up to our hips inwater, as the sun rose and the ducks came out.
“Afterwards we plucked them as a group and now there are five in my freezer to cook for my friends.
“I know it will sound incongruous to people but huntingis about connecting with nature and the outdoors.You have to understand nature to reap the bounty of it.”
Last week she organised a field trip for journalists to a Queanbeyantarget shooting range so they could learn more about the sport.
McKenzie says she supports the tough gun control laws introduced after the 1996Port Arthur massacre, even though they are “not perfect”. What worries her is the cultural divide that has opened upbetweenthe shooting community and the rest of the country.
“A whole group of Australiansfelt they were being put in the same basket as crazy people who had used firearms illegally and were murdering people,” she says.”They were offended by that.”
In July, as part of a response to the Sydney siege, the government announced a temporary banon imports of the Adler A110 –a controversial rapid-fire shotgun. The decision was blasted by McKenzie and other pro-gun politicians, who said it was little different to legal firearms.In August, just a month after it was announced, the ban was lifted.
Since being elected, McKenzie has championed improved access for regional students to higher eduction, a cause close to her.After dropping out of a science degree at the University of Melbourne because of the long commute, she returned to study later in lifeas a heavily-pregnantmother-of-three. She completed the double degree by driving two hours back and forth from home to classes.
Now she is chair of the Senate education and employment committee, whosehearings can run all day until almost midnight. At times, as the days stretch on, her thoughtsdrift to being out in nature,a gun in her hand.
“If you have a gun or a bow and arrow, you don’t need urban society to provide for you,” she says.”There’s something quite empowering, quitefreeingabout that.”