The following is a summary of SSAA National CEO Tim Bannister’s report to the SSAA National AGM held in Darwin earlier this year.
SSAA National has been getting on with the job of promoting the sport of shooting and ethical sustainable hunting while maintaining a sound financial base. In addition, 2016 saw the largest ever disbursement of funds to SSAA branches while simultaneously investing in a new National Adelaide headquarters housing media and research staff with the ability to host board meetings.
Communications and Promotions
Our partnership with Hunting the Menu (HTM) video producers has continued in the past 12 months and taken the shape of six 30-minute hunting and cooking episodes aired on a variety of television stations as well as SSAA TV. The television show is book-ended by the SSAA logo and a subsequent 30-second ‘Join the SSAA’ advertisement.
Our printed and electronic media are in constant evolution and continue to be improved and analysed. Our website has undergone a homepage redesign. The Australian Shooter and the Australian Hunter magazines have both had modernised layout updates and our Facebook sites are growing in reach. The SSAA Legislative Action (SSAA-LA) E-newsletter informs members of our political activities and the SSAA National E-newsletter provides electronic updates on other matters.
One of our largest activities in 2016 was supporting the Conservation through Sustainable Use of Wildlife conference. Two years in the planning, the conference brought together speakers and academics from across the world to engage in meaningful discussion. The talks potentially provide the basis of academic literature for a new generation of wildlife managers.
As discussed at last year’s National AGM, we launched the ‘This is Shooting’ campaign in April 2016. This was our opportunity to showcase the shooting sports in a positive light to the media, the public and, of course, to our members. The short video documentary and its preview edition featured on SSAA TV and paired with the foldout cover April Australian Shooter magazine featuring a reflective story on the various types of shooting and their appeal to people of all abilities, gender and age.
On the tailwinds of the Rio Olympic Games, we agreed to co-sponsor with Beretta Australia a #IAMASHOOTER promotion and a billboard featuring Olympic gold medal winner Catherine Skinner, which gathered media interest and praise from members.
The SSAA SHOT Expos continue to be a huge drawcard for shooters and a further opportunity to publicise the Association, while the SSAA Communication Forum provided an opportunity to self-analyse our strategies and who we are as a federation of associations.
Membership growth for 2016 was positive and as of February 2017 we have 182,253 members. Our Membership, Store and Accounting office in Sydney continues to be very capably run.
The SSAA Gun Sales website was rolled out in 2016. A skittish and alarmist media provided quite a lot of free publicity, believing it was the first of its kind in Australia. The site even featured on the front page of a Tasmanian newspaper in June. To date, SSAA Gun Sales has attracted more than 1600 firearms and accessories listings. As an additional member benefit, we provide SSAA members with a 50 per cent discount on their advertisements.
SSAA Members Firearms Insurance is also growing in popularity as a member benefit and the Insurance Brokerage itself continues to build on its reputation as ‘The shooters’ broker’.
The past 18 months can be described as ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ of firearms politics. We have had some positive interactions, however the hysterical media and anti-gun lobby reaction to the Adler A110 lever-action shotgun can certainly be described in the latter terminology. The issue dominated the media headlines and even obscured the NFA review. SSAA National President Geoff Jones and I met on numerous occasions with Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan, the Firearms and Weapons Policy Working Group and Attorney-General senior bureaucrats.
As we now know, the revised document is little more than a merging of the original 1996 firearms and the 2002 handgun-specific regulations. The promise was to cut red tape and to even provide a preamble recognising the legitimacy of recreational shooting and its community benefits. The initial relaunch of the electronic document contained a glaring error in regard to handgun competitions. We contacted the Justice Minister’s office and demanded it be changed that day. We also informed the office that many of the ambiguities that remain in the revised document would lead to rumours about increased restrictions and punitive regulations.
It is imperative that we all stay vigilant in how the authorities interpret the revised NFA to ensure there are not further restrictions placed on the shooting sports. The review was a long and drawn-out affair, with senior bureaucrats in charge of the review removed two-thirds the way into the analysis. Political gamesmanship by Labor was a feature of the period. The deals and denials of deals made national news, putting firearm laws front and centre of the Australian public.
Ultimately, the revised NFA document was released on a weekend without fanfare or media statement. The government underestimated the complexity of a revision and its ability to get the states in common agreement on policy.
A ‘good’ outcome of the past 12 months has been the continued communication-sharing with the firearms industry and politicians, in particular Bridget McKenzie and David Leyonhjelm. We also built upon relationships with politicians and their staff by co-hosting a Parliamentary Friends of Shooting social in Federal Parliament in Canberra and a hands-on shooting day at the SSAA ACT Majura Range.
Social and Community Actions
Through the engagement with various sections of the community, we can build our reputation and gain ‘social licence’. Projects that we continue to be involved in include the:
- Quoll release sponsorship in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges, South Australia;
- Cat trap sponsorship;
- Academic bursary program;
- Support of the Conservation and Wildlife Research Trust, which has now gained tax-deductibility status;
- Conservation through Sustainable Use of Wildlife conference and its book production;
- SSAA Farmer Assist program; and
- Chital deer research.