By now,many Sydney-based shooters will be aware that Peter Garrett is askingthe community to contribute ideas to the Federal Government’sproposed handover of parcels of land on MalabarHeadland. He’s doing this at apublic meetingat South Maroubra Surf Lifesaving Club at 4pm this Sunday 21st April.All you need to do, if you want to attend, is to RSVP to the contactdetails listed on the Garrett’s invitation.
Now one ofthe parcels of land in question is the easternmost portion of theestate, through which he proposes there be public access forbushwalking and other recreation. This particular parcel happens toinclude almost all of the danger area directly behind the target stopbutts across the entire ANZAC Rifle Range. And the tone of the noticesuggests that progress is well under way in getting the National Parkoperational. Like many politicians of his ilk, he promises what hecannot deliver, so he can buy a paltry few locals’ votes. Oh, and didI mention that the meeting is being catered, so bring an appetite,fellas. When you consider what a pasting Garrett’s mob got in therecent court battle and appeal over their clumsy attempts to evictthe NSW Rifle Association, you can see sour grapes written all overthe sentiment behind this meeting.
Theopposition candidate for Garrett’s electorate, Doctor Michael Fenelyhas also said in thisDr Fenely’s Malabar press release thatthe Coalition is committed to handing over the land to the StateGovernment, but only when a suitable alternative site for the RifleRange is arranged. He has also, in the meantime, promised to allowhorseriding to return to the headland, as the eviction of the Malabarriding School met howls of protest from many locals.
Now the NSWRifle Association, as the prime remaining tenant has beeninvestigating alternative sites to conduct the type of shootingconducted at Malabar, but that is not all plain sailing, as any suchprocess tends to be and we cannot be certain of any positive outcome.
What isneeded on behalf of shooters everywhere is some overarching vision toproclaim and legislate that the ANZAC Rifle Range, Malabar become aWorld’s Best Practice Multi Disciplinary Shooting Range, second tonone in Australia or the World. Ranges should not be shut down orlimited, but increased in number, expanded and enhanced and shootingshould become a community-wide sport, held in high esteem by thewhole nation. Federal Governments of all political persuasions shouldget behind such initiatives by subsidising the formation andmaintenance of such facilities.
In the shortterm, shooters who attend this meeting may suggest a few alternativesto Garrett’s and, it appears, the coalition’s intentions on thissite:
That in the short term, the State and Federal Police prosecute people exercising unauthorised access and/or vandalism anywhere on the site.
That the Federal Government can have its National Park if they consider an expanded and improved rifle range by implementing and fully funding a zero safety template 80-target Fullbore and Service Classification Range, Pistol Ranges and a Shotgun Range – that would cost tens of millions but correct remediation of the site for non-range public use would cost that also. Put this scenario in the context of the criminal waste of the pink batts fiasco and it is really a drop in the bucket.
That if the Federal Government so desperately wants a parcel of coastal land, they leave the heritage-worthy ANZAC as a firing range and compulsorily acquire one of the many prime coastal land golf courses for their walking and cycling tracks.
If we believethat we can achieve #2 above, we can do it. Those who believe it tobe pie in the sky need to look at the fact that we have politicalparties devoted to law-abiding shooters’ interests in two states andKatter’s Australia Party, who have similar objectives within theirwider political agendae. Those parties get more and more supportdaily, while the majors wane and the greens paint themselves intoinescapable political corners because of their extreme socialpolicies.
If we takefor granted that we will always be the poorer for Governmentprejudice and action, then we deserve to lose what we cling to now.
Note: Readersshould be aware that the views expressed above do not represent thoseof any agency or individual other than the writer’s.