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Thursday, 5 March 2015
Page: 1405

Senator McKENZIE (Victoria) (19:39): I want to speak briefly for about 10 minutes on an area that I am very concerned about—that is, the demonisation of hunters that is currently going on at a frenzied pace within our society and communities.

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. 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.

What occurred to Glenn McGrath recently on social media has brought this to my attention—he is one of our greatest sporting heroes and he has made a contribution through his foundation as a result of his first wife's death from breast cancer—and it was absolutely appalling. Headlines such as 'implicated in hunting scandal' have been used, and the language, in which TheSydney Morning Herald and others have chosen to frame this debate, has been abhorrent.

This brings me to an issue I raised briefly in this place when the young L'Oreal model Axelle had her contract cancelled for simply participating in a legal recreational activity and, essentially, being a hunter. 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.

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'.

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.

The majority of Australians live in cities and do their hunting and gathering in supermarkets. But, in earlier generations, we had a general store and you had to walk around a few to get all of your gear. 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. 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 vial and repulsive simply because they need food to survive?

There are incredible conservation benefits from hunting. It brings economic, social and environmental benefits—these are recognised worldwide through international conventions and the like. Hunting delivers $200 million dollars a year to New Zealand, and $200 million is delivered to the African economy as a result of trophy hunting—$200 million 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.

Hunting is a social practice. It has social value. As Senator Muir said today in his first speech, what he likes to do, what he values and what is important to his family, his community, his history and his identity is not valued by those in Brunswick, Richmond or, increasingly, Flemington. The inner urban elites deride Senator Muir's way of life and the things he likes to participate in and enjoy, and they deride hunters as well. The animal rights protagonists are arrogant in their dismissal of this way of life. They purport to have moral superiority, in a way we would not allow elsewhere. They are elitist in their derision of the lifestyle. They cannot believe that anyone would choose to participate in this practice, and they are discriminatory in the way they behave and attack their fellow human beings.

In the Victorian economy, hunting alone produces $430 million, with 1,500 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.