Hunting 'has social value': McKenzie

11 Mar, 2015 08:00 AM
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Victorian Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie at a shooting range.
Hunting and shooting actually provide an incredible economic, environmental and social benefit
Victorian Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie at a shooting range.

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.”

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Colin Bettles

Colin Bettles

is the national political writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
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READER COMMENTS

Jacky
11/03/2015 9:26:46 AM

Glossed over the facts on hunters cutting fences, stealing everything not nailed down and threatening landholders who pull them up.....
Invey
11/03/2015 12:25:26 PM

Some very good points Senator. It's a shame Glen didn't stand up for hunting instead of folding like a deck of cards after the first sign of criticism. I don't hunt for a pastime, I hunt to protect my livestock and native animals from being mauled and killed. I would much rather be inside in the winter watching some brain killing dribble on TV like my city cousins but sadly hunting is a part of managing the environment for the benefit of all.
Barcoo
11/03/2015 7:22:53 PM

@Jacky, you did not mention hunters shooting stock, throwing their kill in farm dams, leaving garbage around and probably a lot of other very annoying things. But the behaviour of individual hunters is not the only aspect of hunting. I have almost closed my property to hunters because so many of them are uncivilised but I still have some who have been coming for more than thirty years and they are civilised. The smart ones value their access to a very expensive piece of real estate and always bring "the key to the gate", usually bottled in Scotland.
Qlander
12/03/2015 7:56:29 AM

Controlled and supervise (at a reasonable cost) is the key. Most landholder don't realise the true value of their land for hunting purposes. $50/day each for camping/access plus $300/day for a guide, max party size of 5. = $550/ day for the landholder to basically just drive around the waters. There's no trouble finding hunter who think $110/day each for access, and a guide is a good deal. The trouble makers are usually the ones who wouldn't pay that.
No recreational hunting in West Australia
12/03/2015 8:35:52 AM

We, in W.A. are campaigning against introduction of recreational hunting. The majority of the public, most unknown to it, until explained, are shocked and horrified,.Rec.hunting in NSW continues to prove it does not work to eradicate vermin. The less vermin, the more added, damaging the Ecosystem, native species threatened, noise affecting breeding, and premature deaths.Rec hunting is costly..to the tax payer.Forests dangerous for the public to enter.Too dangerous for policing.Gun thefts have risen dramatically in NSW since introduction. Thrill kill trophy kill Culture is not Aussie..USA yes !
PayAttention
12/03/2015 10:52:35 AM

Happy to have hunters here. Funny, they seem to appreciate the land more than the Greens do
Jeff of Gippsland
12/03/2015 2:17:13 PM

Bit rich Bridget calling someone else"elite". Hunters have more to worry about from there own, there's just too many of them.
stockman
12/03/2015 4:48:28 PM

McGrath didn't kill for food-he killed to show how clever he was,armed with a high powered rifle.I bet Johnny Howard was apalled that he didn't get the gun off McGrath like he got mine.
Hunt in WA
12/03/2015 5:19:48 PM

No recreational hunting in WA... What a load of crap. Most of us actually support hunting in WA. You can protest all you want but hunting is a right to every person on this earth... get used to it and harden up. You don't rule this world.
mark2
13/03/2015 5:52:50 AM

I have no problem with recreational hunting. It's about respect and the problem with the continual introduction of laws that limit peoples access to these sorts of reasonable pursuits is that they breed ignorance and contempt. Recreational shooters are helping me to keep pig and feral goat numbers to a manageable level. Denying people access to areas to hunting will not make the problems we have with ferals, both 4 legged and 2 legged, go away. I would say that if there has been an increase in firearms theft in NSW, its probably related to the licensing laws and prohibition issues.
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