AFLP say no to the green grab
  |  First Published: November 2007

First, it was the Great Barrier Reef, then Hervey Bay, now it’s Moreton Bay! And there’s going to be a lot more if we don’t take the best chance we’ve ever had to show the government that we’ve had enough of the erosion of our rights to enjoy this wonderful country we call home.

Our federal government has two houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate. It is widely recognized that whoever controls the senate wields enormous power within our government.

The Democrats used their position in the Senate to negotiate the massive marine closures along the Great Barrier Reef. These closures are set to continue if the Green party ever gets senate control. Already there are calls to close off the entire Coral Sea!

Only 30,000 votes from a minor party stopped this happening last federal election. That party was The Fishing Party (Queensland), born out of the frustration of a group of fishers who saw their access to huge areas of the Reef denied, not for scientific reasons but as the result of political horse-trading.

None of these fishers were politically savvy and were totally naive to what eventuated. As somebody who had been politically active in fisheries circles for over 30 years and a member of this group, I suddenly discovered the holy grail of fishing politics – the ultimate way to negotiate with politicians is to be able to trade votes.

The Greens learned that fact many years ago and that is why, as a minor party, they are so politically strong. The only way to counter their ever-increasing lock up of our marine and land areas is to play them at their own game.

Realizing there were a lot of other angry people out there who had been affected by the Green grab of our environment, The Fishing Party (Queensland) has now become the Australian Fishing & Lifestyle Party and intends to represent all outdoor users including four wheel drivers, horse riders, hikers and sporting shooters as well as fishers.

Unfortunately, the Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party has found the massive industry centred on outdoor recreation very conservative when it comes to supporting the political party that has its future interests at heart. What has condescendingly been dismissed by some as a protest vote by a mob of ego-driven far north Queenslanders has gob smacked those who have worked so hard and produced such spectacular results.

The facts are plain for all to see – the Greens saw them long ago. Surely those who have the most to lose when more marine and land parks come into being can’t all be blind!

Perhaps it’s timely to remember that north Queenslanders have produced more than their fair share of historic fishing precedents! Australia’s sportfishing movement was born there, as was the world’s most successful fish tagging program and impoundment barramundi stocking.

Why then, shouldn’t fishers from this area ‘discover’ the secret to political lobbying! All you have to do is ask some of the businesses that received over $200 million in compensation, thanks to negotiations on their behalf by The Fishing Party (Qld), for loss of business due to the Great Barrier Reef Representative Areas Program to answer that question.

My position on the Gulf of Carpentaria Fisheries Management Advisory Committee allowed me to witness first hand the influence that those 30,000 votes last senate election had on the marine park process which was instigated by the National Oceans Office and was well underway at that time. The Gulf of Carpentaria and the entire northern coastline was about to have a third of its coastline closed to marine protected areas.

This process has now stalled thanks mainly to those who voted The Fishing Party last senate election but it will be back in a flash if the Greens get the nod. As I said to one National Oceans Office staffer - who answered with a blank stare, “Why close areas that see very little visitation?” It’s all about power, not about the environment!

The fishers of north Queensland are hurting, and last senate election they sent a message to government that they’d had enough of the erosion of their lifestyle. Now, with the Moreton Bay closures looming, and the Hervey Bay closures already in place, it’s time for those in the south to follow suit.

Given that the Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party (as independents) polled a credible 8% in two Moreton Bay seats last state election, the chance of getting a senate seat with an equivalent percentage state-wide is almost guaranteed. If that happens, then fishers all over Queensland, and indeed Australia-wide, can be assured of having a very loud voice acting on their behalf in federal parliament.

I have been invited and have accepted a position as second on the senate ticket to our inaugural candidate, Kevin Collins from Airlie Beach, who is number one again this time round. Kevin has spent thousands of hours, since the party was started, working for a better deal for all fishers and now for users of the outdoors.

He is dedicated, articulate, a shrewd negotiator but best of all, a red-blooded fisherman who had the guts to stand up and be counted. Regardless of what party you vote for in the house of reps, make sure you vote ONE (1) the Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party in the senate!

Kevin will be doing the rounds of the southeast while I concentrate on the north during the election campaign. Our funds are miniscule compared with the major parties so donations are sorely needed, particularly from the tackle, boating and four-wheel driving industry.

To all you fishers at large, surely it’s worth the cost of a carton or three of beer to protect your right to take your family fishing. Please send your donations and/or applications for membership to Australian Fishing & Lifestyle Party, PO Box 1863, Toowong BC, Qld 4066.

Our experience with elections to date have clearly shown that people who value their lifestyle will vote for the Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party if asked for their help on election day. Enthusiastic booth workers can make more difference than a million dollar advertising campaign!

So the Party will need volunteers to man booths in all areas and, just to make it more interesting, all those who partake will go into the draw for a pile of fishing tackle and camping gear. If you’d like to offer a few hours of your time on election day, go to the Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party’s website www.fishingparty.com.au or contact Chris on 0408003343 (South Queensland), Kevin on 0414785462 (North Queensland) or myself on 0427699064 or at --e-mail address hidden-- .

This is our chance to tell the politicians that locking us out of large areas of our country is not going to continue and pandering to the unreasonable demands of the extreme green movement is not acceptable to those who value their outdoor heritage.

It may be way too late next time around. Don’t waste your chance – or your vote. – Dave Donald

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