Eurobodalla Shire Cr Gabrielle Harding condoned a personal attack on HuntFest organiser Dan Field prompting Mr Field's daughter Zoe to plead with hunt haters to stop the abuse.

HuntFest family abuse sanctioned by Greens councillor

A Greens councillor has told the daughter of Narooma’s HuntFest organiser that constant verbal harassment of her family was okay, prompting a letter to the Narooma News highlighting the level of harassment suffered by the family.

In the letter Zoe Field, daughter of Dan Field, has pleaded for the abuse to stop after revealing her family has been targeted with aggressive phone calls during the last month.

She then expressed her disappointment that a “local Greens councillor” told her and her sister that this behaviour was acceptable on an Facebook page set up specifically to target HuntFest.

“I would just like to point out what our family has had to put up with over the last few weeks, and that is constant telephone abuse 24/7,” she wrote in her letter.

“To pick up our family phone and have some foulmouthed anti-guns/hunting campaigner scream obscenities at us is just beyond belief, and to think such people live in our community!

“It was bad enough that for five months my father was vilified and belittled on a Facebook page by members of this intolerant group in our community, just because he hunts as people have in the Eurobodalla for thousands of years, but then have a local Greens councillor tell my sister and I that this offensive behaviour was okay because dad is a ‘public figure’, was just disgusting.”

The abuse started even before HuntFest applied to have firearms displayed at the show to be held at Narooma June 7 and 8 2014, as an amendment to the original application. The inaugural show this year attracted hundreds in a celebration of our hunting culture with displays of game food and photographs and it is hoped that firearms displays will attract more.

The Greens representative on the Eurobodalla Shire Council, Gabrielle Harding, then launched a public campaign to have the amendment blocked, inviting local residents to voice their disapproval to council ahead of the December 10 meeting where the application would be heard.

In August Cr Harding condoned a personal attack against Dan Field on a Facebook page entitled No Hunting Festival for Narooma on which a photo of Mr Field was published bearing the words, “Kills animals for fun”, inciting hatred towards Mr Field.

Among other negative comments posted underneath the photo Kirsten Vine posted “he looks like the sort of person you would be careful to keep your kids away from” while Carol Cavanagh wrote “He might have a big gun but I bet he has everything else small.”

Mr Field’s daughters Zoe and Destiny then posted their dismay at the harm and distress these attacks were causing their family to which Cr Harding responded, “The comment made by one of our posters about Dan and children in inappropriate. But I do not believe that the image and the words of Dan are.”

The Facebook page was taken down and a few minutes later the Eurobodalla Greens Facebook page was also removed.

Following Cr Harding’s public campaign that included a media release and advertising in local newspapers, Mr Field also attempted to set the record straight with a letter to the Narooma News explaining HuntFest’s position ahead of next Tuesday’s council meeting, however, he was told by the acting editor that it would not be published.

“I asked for the letter to be printed in whole and I was told by the acting editor that it wouldn’t be published until the following week which would have meant nothing to us,” he said.

“I since contacted the managing editor, who has always been straight with us, and the letter was printed.”

Mr Field’s letter pointed out the hypocrisy displayed by Cr Harding who proposed a motion to support gay marriage.

“On the one hand she votes to show empathy, respect and fairness to one group in our community, then on the other hand she shows no empathy, respect or fairness towards another cultural group just because they own firearms or would like to see them at an event,” Mr Field wrote.

He also pointed out that there were at least 2500 hunters in the area who form a much larger group than the vocal anti-gun lobby who are targeting law-abiding firearms owners.

“I can understand why hunters would be afraid to put up their hands especially with the abuse that we’ve copped,” he told Sporting Shooter. “They live in the community where they’ve been misled into thinking there are thousands of these Greens and antis out there, but there isn’t. They are a very small minority.

“I don’t want anyone anywhere to cop the type of abuse and intolerance that myself, my wife and Zoe have had to put up with – I can understand why they wouldn’t want to put their hands up.

“It’s a bad situation we’re in, but I’m not going to take a backward step. Hunting is a cultural thing for me, but by the same token, should your family cop abuse for that?

“At least the hunters I know don’t phone councillors and abuse them and their families for what they believe.”

Follow this link to contact a councillor to voice your support for HuntFest.




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Justin Law