Comment: I fish and I vote
WHILE the outcome of tomorrow’s election is close and could go either way, last minute polling indicates a surge towards the Coalition. If the Coalition does return to power, is that good news for Australian anglers? Well the answer is yes, and no…
On one hand, the opposition has taken its partnership with the Greens to a new level by adopting its environmental policy and promising a series of Commonwealth Marine Reserves which could, if Labor makes it to power, see more than 1 million square kilometres locked-off to rec fishers. It’s pretty obvious Labor has put preferences above the support of Australia’s 3 million plus anglers and could pay dearly for this at tomorrow’s election.
The Coalition has been vague on its policy towards federal marine parks and rec anglers in the lead up to this year’s election. However, its disregard for fishers, environmentalists and local pro fishers around the controversial Geelong Star (super trawler) has made the Coalition a lot of enemies.
And given the Geelong Star’s proximity to such important NSW South Coast marginal seats, it’s surprising the Government didn’t cut ties with this ship long ago. Again, the Coalition could well pay for this decision in lost seats.
Do politicians care about the rec fishing vote? Unlike many interest groups, rec fishers in general aren’t aligned to any political persuasion. We come from all walks of life, different backgrounds, ethnic groups, age groups etc. It’s fair to say rec fishers can be persuaded to vote one way or another, just like the rest of Australia’s population.
And do rec fishers care about their past time so much that they’ll vote one way or another? Will they put their political allegiances aside for the future of their sport? Will they place other key election issues behind their passion for rec fishing; things like education, healthcare and border control? Absolutely!
So with such a narrow margin deciding tomorrow’s election, wouldn’t you think recognising the needs of such a large interest group is a no-brainer? Will key marginal seats on the NSW South Coast and Western Sydney fall one way or another because of this lack of recognition?
Let’s hope the good work being done through Keep Australia Fishing in the lead up to the Federal election has an impact and puts rec fishers on the radar of future political leaders.