[LINK] {OT} Walk against War - sunday in sydney

Grant Bayley gbayley@ausmac.net
Mon, 17 Feb 2003 18:40:33 +1100 (EST)


On Mon, 17 Feb 2003, Damien Miller wrote:

> >>>Last I checked, polls != election results.
> >>>
> >>>And polls in the US != Australian election results.
> >>
> >>Democracy doesn't begin, or end, with an election.
> >
> > Let me guess - it begins with 400,000 dictating what they think
> > the national position in relation to world affairs should be to
> > the other ~19,400,000?
>
> I didn't see any "dictating" going on at the rally on Friday eve - I
> suppose this is just an emotive word that you use to make your point
> stronger.
>
> The "other" 19m are quite entitled to start pro-war rallies, but I can
> only surmise from their absence that they they (partially) agree with
> the 400k or they don't care enough to attend either.

See this is what I don't get.

They didn't turn up, but they agree with the 400k?

How exactly can you justify this statement?

> I have seen the opinion polls show that over 60% of Australians do not
> want a war without UN approval, and a sizable minority do not want war
> under any circumstances. You may choose to ignore them, but these
> numbers have been remarkably durable for something as typically fickle
> as public opinion.

Which numbers are we talking about exactly?  The ones that will go along
if the UN authorises it?  Or the ones that don't want it at all?  They're
two separate groups, are they not?

It would seem convenient and expedient for your side to blur the lines
between the two, to my way of thinking.

Which of these two groups are you in, Damien?

> > Where does it end, Damien?
>
> I don't understand what you mean by this statement - protests by
> concerned minorities have been a part of political life before we had
> luxuries like the Internet.
>
> If anything, I am more concerned by the influence that non-grassroots
> lobbyists (e.g. pharmaceutical, media and firearm industries) have on
> policy decisions. This happens behind closed doors and without very
> little public attention.

The "firearms industry" is basically split into two parts here.  One type
of end user is law enforcement and the military, and the other type of end
user is the sporting shooter.  They are both served by the same companies,
if only because the economies of scale do not allow for much else.  HK
Systems in Victoria, for example, caters to the law enforcement market
with their H&K MP5 gear, often seen in the hands of SAS, commandos and
tactical response groups.  They also cater to the civilian market with
target firearms useful in civilian competition.  Such importers are
represented by the firearms dealers association.  It's not really any
different to any other industry group that makes representations to
Governments.  Governments are their major customers.  The goods they
sell protect society when in the hands of law enforcement.  By your
definition, these guys aren't "grass roots".  As for the sporting
shooters, they are represented by the SSAA (Sporting Shooters Association
of Australia).  This organisation is "grass roots", even by your
definition.  The membership is mostly drawn from rural areas, covering
farmers, and sporting shooters in places like Bathurst, Lithgow,
Mudgee, and Majura (outside Canberra).  The sporting shooters are mostly
rifle shooters, using rifles of one of three main types.  One, scoped
rifles of small calibre for hunting feral pests like rabbits, foxes, etc,
two, scoped rifles of larger calibre for hunting of larger game such as
feral pigs, deer, kangaroos etc, and three, iron-sighted rifles for range
competition (things like Service rifle shooting with WWII Lee Enfields or
Anschutz target rifles in the "Queens Leading Fifty" matches). There's
obviously other variations like shotgunners shooting clay targets and
pistol shooters of various types (Olympic, IPSC, Western Action), but it's
overwhelmingly rifle-centric. This organisation is represented by exactly
one lobbyist, Gary Fleetwood, in Canberra, speaking on behalf of the
~130,000 (iirc) sporting shooters in this country.  What's closed-door
about that?  All of this information is public, and easily available.
Check their website, or ask.  We're not as scary as you probably think.
There's just no real need to have a high profile, except when we're being
stiffed because of the criminal actions of one or two people, like Martin
Bryant, or the alleged shooter at Monash.  Both had characteristics that
should have been picked up by the licensing system, so instead of blaming
State Governments for lax laws (Victoria especially!), we get the blame
instead.

If you want to be concerned about something, be concerned about what
former Defence Minister Peter Reith is up to at Tenix, a defence
contractor.  You won't find any public record of what he's up to, what
contacts into Government he's spilled, what insight into defence
requirements he has brought to his new employer etc.  Just look how
successfully he played Mr Teflon during the children overboard saga.

Okay, we're really off topic now.  I will stop.

Grant