The recent Select Committee report on Victoria’s Recreational Native Bird Hunting Arrangements recommends that recreational bird hunting be banned on public and private land in Victoria, except for hunting by First Australian traditional owners.
The Greens, Animal Justice Party and all but one Labor member of the committee clearly viewed that Australians should have starkly different rights when it comes to hunting, with First Australians being seen as legitimate hunters and everybody else as not.
Interestingly, Labor’s Sheena Watt, who is a First Australian woman, opposed the ban recommendation, along with MPs from the Liberals, Nationals and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party.
Ms Watt was prepared to stick her neck out for working people who enjoy hunting, noting the mental health benefits. It is heartening to see a First Australian leader and Labor MP going into bat against discriminatory laws that disadvantage other Australian hunters.
However, the fact that Ms Watt was not being listened to by the left-wing establishment is a fairly typical example of them only accepting First Australian views that fit the left-wing narrative.
Hunters in Queensland are very familiar with the world view of the left wingers proposing this ban, with First Australians in Queensland enjoying hunting rights on their traditional lands while the rest of us are not allowed to access public land to hunt. This denies Queensland hunters of ordinary means the only realistic way that they can regularly enjoy hunting.
This belies the reality that prior to the last 12,000 years, and as far back as two million years to Homo habilis, every person on the planet was a hunter-gatherer. Despite the adoption of agriculture, many people have continued hunting until this very day, making hunting a cultural practice for all of humanity.
Our shared hunting history with our fellow First Australian citizens is a big part of the reason why I was recently angry at Victorian media personality Sam Newman, for his claim that First Australian history is not worth teaching in schools.
First Australian survival through hunting with only the equipment that they could make themselves demonstrated magnificent hunting skill and knowledge. By dismissing the value of First Australian hunter-gatherer cultures, Newman dismissed the knowledge and skills valued by all hunters, disrespecting the lives of all of our ancestors.
Yet the left-wing MPs in the Victorian inquiry have as little regard for the cultural significance of hunting to non-First Australian hunters as Newman did towards the hunting practices of First Australians.
In 2019 the current member for Algester, Leeanne Enoch, also demonstrated a complete disregard for Queensland hunters when, as the then state environment minister, she dismissed the petition calling for a public-land hunting access system in Queensland.
Whether it is a coincidence that Enoch is also the minister responsible for the Queensland Path to Treaty process, which is intended to result in a treaty between the State of Queensland and First Australians in the state, is something that only she knows.
However, to me it smacks of the same attitude that the Victorian MPs have demonstrated: that the cultural hunting practices of First Australians in Queensland are supported but reasonable access to our vast areas of public land is denied to the rest of us.
With that attitude prevailing, the Voice and a treaty in Queensland can only be bad for Queensland hunters. These things are being sold as vital to improve the lives of First Australians, but the left-wing establishment that is pushing the agenda is only ever interested in restricting the freedoms of non-First Australians.
It does not appear that the Voice alone will provide any power to erode our hunting rights.
However, by perpetuating the legitimacy of different rights based on race, it perpetuates the attitude that discrimination against non-First Australian hunters is acceptable.
A Voice could also represent an endorsement for the Queensland Path to Treaty process. If a Queensland treaty is passed, politicians such as Leeanne Enoch, who are hostile to hunters, could be granted real power to permanently prevent non-First Australian hunters from ever obtaining public-land hunting access in Queensland.
We also need to ask the question whether treaties could interfere with existing public-land access for non-First Australians in other states. AJP and Greens policies specifically state they would deny us our hunting rights, and there is no doubt they would use a treaty to help them achieve it if they could.
I cannot imagine hunting access getting anything but worse if these people are given another legal stick to wield.
All hunters should remember that when they vote on the Voice on 14 October, and if they value their hunting, vote No.
After that, the 2024 Queensland election will be a critical one for Queensland hunters because of the threat of a treaty.
If the Queensland hunting community wants us to have any chance to hunt on Queensland public land and the best chance to protect our existing rights, we all need to join the fight for our hunting future.
Rhys Bosley runs the State Forest Hunting for Queensland campaign and is running against Leeanne Enoch for the seat of Algester in the 2024 Queensland election. He is also a member of Katter’s Australian Party. His website is rhysbosleyforalgester.au.
The Australian Electoral Commission’s official booklet on the referendum, including details about both the Yes and No arguments, is available here.