Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medallists Michael Diamond and Laetisha Scanlan were the guests of honour at the recent launch of the Parliamentary Friends of Shooting event held at Parliament House in Canberra.
The Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie launched the Parliamentary Friends of Shooting in March, in an effort to raise awareness about sporting and recreational shooting among parliamentarians.
Senator McKenzie said sporting and recreational shooters were often demonised in the mainstream media for participating in a pastime that is not only legal but delivers significant social, economic and environmental benefits to Australia.
“Shooting often cops a bad rap in the mainstream media by commentators who are misinformed,” Senator McKenzie said.
“Shooting has produced a number of Olympic, Commonwealth and World champions such as Michael Diamond, Laetisha Scanlan and Russell Mark.
“The public is happy to support these champions every four years when they are winning gold for Australia but outside of this the sport can be frowned upon – I am committed to changing this.
“In my home state of Victoria we know recreation hunting contributes around $440 million per year to the local economy, much of that in regional Victoria.
“Our farmers rely on shooting to humanely cull invasive pests such as rabbits, foxes and deer, while also delivering significant environmental benefits.
“Many thousands of Victorian’s also compete at sporting shooting clubs each and every weekend in events such as clay target shooting, with the best of those going on to compete for higher honours.
“Shooting is wonderful activity which I have proudly participated in for many years and I want to see it get the credit it deserves.
“We know our licensed firearms owners are seldom responsible for any of the horrible gun crimes such as the recent Martin Place Siege, yet if you picked-up your newspaper or listened to the constant harping from Greens Senators such as Penny Wright you may think otherwise.
“Through the Parliamentary Friends of Shooting I hope to begin to change these negative perceptions about shooting. I would even strongly encourage the Greens to come along, meet with those who participate in the sport, farmers and recreational hunters to help dispel some of the myths.
”Senator McKenzie said following the launch of Parliamentary Friends of Shooting many Members and Senators had expressed interest in joining and had said they would love to learn more about the sport and even have the opportunity to use a firearm.
“Our launch in March was the beginning of what will be an important association,” Senator McKenzie said.
“To give Members and Senators the opportunity to hear from Michael Diamond about the thrill he got from winning gold for Australia in front of his home crowd in Sydney, or how Laetisha Scanlan begged her dad to let her try out the sport before going onto to gold at the Delhi and Glasgow Commonwealth Games was truly a great moment.
Senator McKenzie said those wanting to find out more about the Parliamentary Friends of Shooting could contact her office in Bendigo on (03) 5441 4251 or email her at Senator.McKenzie@aph.gov.au.
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