Legislation reforming Victoria’s firefighting services passed the upper house last week, amid concerns led by Alex Sinnott of the Weekly Times that the government would have been put under pressure by the Animal Justice Party to ban duck hunting.
Has a deal been done? We may never know, but one thing we can say for sure is that the Andrews Government has the numbers it needs to ban duck hunting, if it wanted to.
Duck hunting in Victoria set to face ‘trade’ test
A few days ago the Weekly Times ran a story on the Victorian Government’s push to reform its fire fighting services – effectively dividing the full-time firefighters from volunteers.
That story revolved around the fact the government would probably need the vote of Andy Meddick from the Animal Justice Party – whose vegan priority is to secure a ban on duck hunting – to pass the bill.
If you aren’t aware, smart political parties don’t “give away” their vote.
They trade them. It’s a commercial transaction.
In Andy’s case, we – and clearly the Weekly Times – have little doubt he would have asked for a ban on duck hunting to secure his vote to pass the bill, because he would have known how important the bill was to Labor, because of the influence that unions have in it.
Labor would have looked at the trade as a relatively simple deal: Weigh up the pros of agreeing to a ban on duck hunting, with the cons of getting shooters offside, and decide who to support.
So was a deal done? While we can guess, the only people who will ever know Andy Meddick and certain people within Labor.
We will know a deal was done if we see a bill to ban duck hunting in Victoria – by which time it will be too late. That’s because the Government will not put a bill up until it knows that it has enough votes of the cross bench to pass it.
Labor’s numbers dropped
The stakes were increased for Labor after one of its upper house MPs, Phil Dalidakis, resigned to take up a role in the private sector.
His loss meant Labor temporarily had 17 (not 18) votes out of the 21 needed in the upper house, which meant it needed the support of four cross benchers to pass the legislation.
On Thursday night, the firefighting bill passed the upper house. The vote was 21 -18.
Among those who voted for the bill were Meddick - and others who are opposed to duck hunting.
So what happens now?
All we can do is wait to see what happens.
We have been assured by one of our larger hunting organisations that is well informed on matters affecting it, that a deal was unlikely.
While that is good news, the fact remains that the government will trade duck hunting off if it helps secure its own future.
Once it finds a replacement for Mr Dalidakis, it will need just 3 votes on the crossbench to get duck hunting banned (18 of their own MPs plus 3 to get to 21).
With the Greens, AJP and 3 Hinch who all either hate guns or want duck hunting banned – or both – that’s 5 votes which means it comfortably has the numbers now.
Whether or not the firefighters bill was the catalyst isn’t important: what is important is that we need to keep the pressure up if we want to keep what we have from the greedy clutches of our enemies.
That’s why our shooting organisations - and this Council - are working hard to ensure that deals like these are not done.