Federal Agriculture Minister’s visit to the Valley

National Party Lyons candidate Deanna Hutchinson, left, and
Ray Williams of the Derwent Valley Field and Game Club look
on while Senator Bridget McKenzie lines up a shot.

AUSTRALIA’S 642,000 recreational hunters and shooters contributed $2.4 billion to the nation’s economy in 2018, National Party deputy leader  and Victorian Senator Bridget McKenzie said during a visit to the Derwent Valley Field and Game Club on Sunday morning.

A keen sporting shooter, Senator McKenzie serves as Minister for Agriculture in the Federal Parliament and spent several days in Tasmania last week, including a day at the Burnie Show with Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Senator McKenzie spent Saturday in the Derwent Valley, which she described on Twitter as a magnificent day hearing from local producers. This included visits to the Westerway Raspberry Farm and the Meadowbank Vineyard, which later prompted the minister to remark on the Derwent Valley’s role in the Federal Government’s view of Tasmania as the “turnaround state” with the economy growing and unemployment dropping.

Ms Hutchinson, left, and Senator McKenzie with Rob Clark
and one of the Westerway Raspberry Farm’s picking machines. 

On Facebook the minister said it had been great to learn about the region’s berries, cherries, hops, wine, merino lambs, angus beef and aquaculture. During her visit to the Derwent Valley she was accompanied by the party’s federal candidate for Lyons, Deanna Hutchinson.

Before returning to the mainland on Sunday, the senator dropped in to the Derwent Valley Field and Game Club at Boyer for several rounds of clay target shooting. A member of several gun clubs, Senator McKenzie is also the co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Shooters Group.

She praised the Derwent Valley Field and Game Club’s facility at Boyer and said she would like to encourage more women to take up the sport of shooting. She wished the local members the best of luck at the national championships of Sporting Clays Australia being held in Cooma, New South Wales, later this month. Ray Williams, Malcolm Little, Roger Manton and Adam Williams will represent the club at the event.

Senator McKenzie talked about the physical and socio-economic benefits of recreational hunting and shooting and spoke of her recent lobbying of the Bank of Queensland following its decision to add gunshop owners to the list of businesses it would not loan money to, alongside online gambling, adult entertainment, and criminal organisations. The policy is now under review.

Gerald Ellis of Meadowbank Wines talking to
Ms Hutchinson and Senator McKenzie.

In a recent statement, Senator McKenzie said the National Party had long been a strong supporter of law-abiding firearm owners. “A study into the socio-economic benefits of recreational hunting and shooting was part our election commitment and I am proud the Nationals have delivered on our promise,” she said.

“These traditional activities have been part of the fabric of Australian life. These activities get people out of their arm chairs and out into nature. The report shows that these activities provide significant health and wellbeing benefits to participants, with hunters and shooters more likely to meet sufficient physical activity requirements than the average Australian adult.

“The social and economic benefits it provides to the Australian community is significant, supporting more than 19,000 jobs—many in rural and regional Australia. It means $1.6 billion flowing into service stations, grocery shops, cafes and accommodation and more family-owned small business owners in communities right across the country.

“I’m proud to be a law abiding firearm owner and co-chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Shooters Group. Shooting is a sport we excel at internationally, and it’s an important part of who we are as a nation. Yet despite the accolades shooting, and its participants, are often marginalised.

Senator McKenzie, left, with Deanna Hutchinson, was
particularly taken with the view from the gun club.

“It doesn’t matter whether your equipment is a bow, a knife or gun – we need to continue promoting the benefits of recreational hunting and sport shooting. Shooters and hunters should feel positive about the impact their participation has on their own health, as well as the social and economic contribution it provides to Australia, whether they’re participating at the recreational or elite level.”

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