By Garry Mallard, OAM
IT BEGAN in the Bega Valley just a few short years ago.
A Greens councillor used his position on council to indulge his ideological opposition to ‘weaponry’ by opposing a small archery club’s Youth Week event funding application on the spurious grounds that “Archery is simply a means of inculcating (brainwashing) youth into a guns culture.”
Later in the same council meeting, a small Seniors Week event funding application was likewise opposed by the councillor, this time on the grounds that seniors were “too feeble to draw a bow”.
The gallery and indeed the community was shocked, but not so the archery club.
It was all too aware of the ideological jihad the Greens were mounting against what they choose to characterise as “dangerous weapons of death”, and everyone else considers a healthy outdoors pastime of Olympic calibre.
Then the Eurobodalla Greens took aim at Narooma’s HuntFest, claiming it would encourage the wrong people to visit the shire; that it would result in the wholesale slaughter of native wildlife and subvert the shire’s youth from the straight and narrow to a path of murder and mayhem.
Of course having learned something from the Bega Valley’s response to such outrageous claims, the Eurobodalla Greens employed their ginger-group “Stop Arms Fairs in Eurobodalla” (S.A.F.E) as the public face of their intolerance and what dedicated people this infinitesimally small group of Chickens Little have proved to be.
Hardly a week goes by when the local papers don’t carry SAFE’s “The sky is falling!” message to a bemused community, the vast majority of which, it has been demonstrated time and again, do not share SAFE’s or the Greens’ concerns.
While it is tempting to disregard attempts to end HuntFest as the work of extremist ideologues, it would be foolish to underestimate the very real financial cost their largely vexatious activities have imposed on the community at a time when the Eurobodalla Shire has requested permission to bump-up everyone’s rates to make ends meet.
SAFE’s predictable nitpicking letters to council, its poorly supported petitions signed by anti-HuntFesters and in recent days, threats of legal action requiring council to seek its own legal advice, all result in a cost to the ratepayer.
And what a cost it is!
One informed source puts the cost to date in the region of $150,000, all to indulge the ideological objections of a tiny fraction of the Eurobodalla community.
Both the Greens and SAFE claim that deep concerns are held by a majority that neither has ever managed to manifest in any shape whatsoever.
SAFE’s protests have been dismally supported and a petition run over a two-year period failed to garner support from even one per cent of Eurobodalla ratepayers, resulting in the now infamous 40,000 strong “interplanetary petition”, signed by people as far afield as Bolivia, the Mongol Steppe, the planet Melmac, being presented to council as evidence that “no-one wants HuntFest in Narooma”.
No-one, except perhaps the thousands of people who actually know where Narooma and indeed Australia is and are headed there with bulging wallets this long weekend.
The Greens’ commitment to destroying a small country town festival has been quite extraordinary to watch unfold.
It is far in excess of the attention they pay to similar events, such as Sydney’s Shot Show or Bendigo’s Hunting Guiding and Fishing Expo, which draws crowds in excess of 15,000 to the small rural centre annually and to which the Greens pay no attention at all.
Narooma, as a small rural community, is obviously the softer target and oh how Australia’s third political power revels in undermining the initiative of a small local not-for-profit sporting club.
The Greens have even taken the unprecedented step of holding an opposing parallel event, which the party proudly boasts is aimed directly at undermining HuntFest.
How grateful the struggling businesses of the Eurobodalla and Narooma in particular would be if the Greens initiated an event on a vacant long weekend in the off-season that help alleviate their struggles, rather than striving to undermine an event that for many brings in more money in two days than they’d otherwise make in two weeks.
The Greens “Animals in the Wild” photographic competition will be held in Bodalla.
It claims to be an event celebrating the merits of shooting animals with cameras rather than guns, but ironically the competition includes a category for the image that “best conveys the reality of the hunting, guns and killing culture in Australia”.
When HuntFest began three years ago, both the Greens and SAFE vehemently objected to such images being displayed in Narooma, where they might potentially “damage developing minds”.
Apparently such images are only cause for concern when displayed in Narooma…Bodalla, not so much.
Or perhaps they’ve banned vulnerable youth from their exhibition?
When questioned about this apparent hypocrisy, Greens MP David Shoebridge advises that while it is true the exhibition may include images that are confronting and even disturbing, at least his event doesn’t celebrate the killing culture.
If not celebration, one wonders what he calls it when his event includes a category and awards a prize for the best of such images.
I’m certain I know what the community calls it.
The Greens’ and SAFE’s commitment to damaging the community has taken a darker turn in the past few days, with an eleventh hour bid to obtain a court injunction to undermine the event.
If successful no doubt Facebook and Twitter will be deluged with images of SAFE and Greens representatives’ doing the Happy Dance at the community’s expense.
HuntFest’s organisers will likely be left in debt as they’re forced to cancel the event rather than risk being accused of false advertising and being sued for damages by exhibitors who’ll have to be asked to stay away.
Businesses that prepared for an influx of visitors will be left in the lurch, as will the additional staff they’d called into work for the weekend, and of course the cafes and restaurants that have ordered additional provisions for a busy period will all be disadvantaged, along with the venues that booked entertainment for visitors etc etc.
All this because a small group of people who object to another group of people harvesting free-range organic meat from the public larder, while at the same time removing feral pests from the environment at no cost to the public is committed to winning an ideological war at any cost.
An ideological war, it must be said, they mount against only those members of the community who are not of Aboriginal heritage.
For those who are, the Greens will move heaven and earth to protect the right to participate in the culturally significant, traditional activity of hunting, up to and including the harvest of native species, which the vast majority of HuntFest attendees and supporters may not hunt by law.
But if you believe the Greens oppose HuntFest because they oppose the killing animals you’d be wrong.
The Greens support the absolute annihilation of all non-indigenous (feral) species.
What they object to is people enjoying hunting, unless of course they belong to the aforementioned cultural group.
In fact, the Greens are so opposed to hunting that in preference they endorse the use of the poison 1080, in particular for the ‘management’ of deer herds on the South Coast, as Margaret Perger, Greens candidate for the region in the last NSW election, revealed much to the Greens’ chagrin.
“It’s being practical” advised Ms Perger when asked how spreading a poison with no known antidote and a well documented history of inhumane and largely indiscriminate application in the control of wild deer herds could possibly be considered more humane than hunting deer for the table.
If you are interested to know the impact of the Greens’ preferred alternative to hunting, I recommend the New Zealand documentary “Poisoning Paradise - Ecocide”.
Please note, it’s not for those of a delicate disposition. www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQRuOj96CRs
One wonders if future “Animals in the Wild” exhibitions will include a category for the “Best deer killed by poison bait and left to rot in the forest”, and perhaps the allied category of “Best native animal which, while not targeted by poison bait per se, died some days later anyway after feeding on the corpse of a targeted species”.
Finally, the Greens and SAFE have both made much of HuntFest’s intention to include an “archery range” and a “rifle range” at this year’s event.
What they have been strategically careful not to mention is that both will be conducted in special environments surrounding participants on five sides with plate steel.
Nor have they imparted that both activities will be managed by experts, or that the “rifle range” is in fact an air-rifle (slug gun) range, such as we’re familiar with seeing at summer seaside carnivals, but infinitely more contained, safer and better supervised.
Far be it from WowserFest to provide the community with facts when their strategic omission will elicit a gratifying response.
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