The Shooters and Fishers Party has won a seat in Western Australia, where the Liberal-National Party Coalition has easily won the state election and the Greens have been punished.
After the final distribution of preferences, it was confirmed that SFP representative Rick Mazza will take a seat in the upper house, a remarkable achievement for a party that has only been registered in WA for a few months.
“We are thrilled that a newly minted party that was registered only 14 weeks ago was able to get up,” Mr Mazza said. “It’s unprecedented to get a party up in such a short period of time.”
He also admitted it was “a bit of a surprise” after the party set out to use the 2013 election as a learning experience in preparation for the following election.
“We have learnt a hell of a lot,” Mr Mazza said. “There’s a lot more support there than we anticipated.”
Metropolitan voters provided a real surprise, giving the SFP as much as 1.5% of the primary vote.
The Liberal Party will hold power in the lower house after gaining a number of seats, while in the upper house, where Mr Mazza will sit, the Liberal-National Coalition will wield power.
The strengthening of the previous government’s position will not mean the next few years will be a continuation of a bad regime for WA shooters and hunters, says Mazza, who believes the SFP will have a chance to bring about some change.
He said there may be situations in the upper house where the SFP can play a vital role in passing legislation, and added that being in parliament gave the SFP the ear of other politicians and different ways of having influence.
It would also enable legislation to be tabled more easily as the shooting community aims for more sensible gun laws.
“The government will take notice after seeing the strong base of support for the SFP,” Mr Mazza said.
Some of his major ambitions are to introduce more sensible gun and fishing laws, reduce lockouts, allow for re-stocking of fish species and permit regulated hunting in state forests.
Meanwhile, the collapse of the Greens continued, with West Australian voters turning away from the party even more strongly than they swung away from Labor in this election.
The Greens, who recently lost out in ACT elections and NSW local government elections, dropped from four to two seats in the WA upper house.
Federal leader Christine Milne blamed it on “the march of the conservatives” rather than admitting the Greens themselves may be responsible for their own decline.
One of the Greens who has lost her seat is Giz Watson, who previously dismissed shooters as “the disgruntled few”.