RECENT cyber attacks on Australian cricketer Glenn McGrath over controversial hunting pictures from 2008 have been “abhorrent”, says Victorian Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie.
Senator McKenzie defended Mr McGrath and the subsequent “demonisation” of recreational shooters in a recent passionate Senate speech, in which she said criticism of hunters was occurring at a “frenzied pace”.
“Aborigines have hunted across Australia for over 20,000 years and Europeans have brought the grand tradition of hunting from Italy, France and Britain to Australia,” she said.
“Hunting allowed our new settlers to provide food for their communities and their families and yet we have seen the constant demonisation of hunting and hunters.”
Last month Mr McGrath was heavily criticised after pictures of him engaged in a typical hunter’s pose, holding a rifle next to various dead animals, were circulated on social media.
The reaction to images of his 2008 Zimbabwean hunting experience sparked heated debate about the ethics of hunting and cruelty allegations.
But Senator McKenzie said Mr McGrath was “one of our greatest sporting heroes” who’d also made a contribution through the McGrath Foundation for breast cancer support and the cyber-attack was “absolutely appalling”.
“In the social media campaign against Glenn McGrath, people were saying things like 'don't support his charity'; 'friends, please stop donating'; 'high-time celebs like Glenn McGrath realise that hunting evokes as much public revulsion as harpooning whales'; and 'you are just a sick cowardly psychopath'. Lady Elise said: 'He is an un-good person, a vilesome person',” she said.
“We need to start considering how this impacts on real people and their lives.
“It is a result of social do-gooders, animal rights activists and people who are of an elitist bent who think that how they envisage the world is how it should be.
“They are going to persecute those who participate in legal pastimes.”
Hunting 'in our very DNA'
Senator McKenzie said while the majority of Australians live in cities and do their hunting and gathering in supermarkets, in earlier generations we were basically self-sufficient.
“We might have had a small plot of land and we would have used a variety of tools to help us hunt game to get our protein, and we would have gathered our carbohydrates,” she said.
“This is as akin to being a human being as the fight-or-flight response. Hunting has developed over millennia. Our desire to hunt and gather is in our very DNA.
“Of the world's 7.5 billion people, two billion people survive on less than $2 a day. They depend on hunting to provide food and sustenance for their families.
“Are we going to say that those people are somehow vile and repulsive simply because they need food to survive?
“It is abhorrent. These are legal activities, they are celebrated, they are cultural practices and they have historic values.
“Over one million Australians are registered hunters, and that does not go to the sporting area. There are 46,000 game hunters within my own home state of Victoria.”
Senator McKenzie said hunting also provided economic, social and environmental benefits which are recognised worldwide through international conventions and the like.
She said hunting delivers $200 million dollars a year to New Zealand and $200m is delivered to the African economy as a result of trophy hunting.
“$200m a year to the poorest continent on earth - that flows right through not only to the national economy but also down onto the ground and to villages that run conservation projects and manage animals sustainably,” she said.
“Hunting is a social practice. It has social value.
“In the Victorian economy, hunting alone produces $430m, with 1500 jobs in direct employment, most of those out in the regions.
“So hunting and shooting actually provide an incredible economic, environmental and social benefit to our community.
“It is about time that we belled the cat on those people who think they are morally superior and choose to denigrate or deride people participating in a legal, historic and cultural practice that has been celebrated for centuries and indeed is part of our very DNA as human beings.”