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Springvale Range
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Eagle Park Range
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SSAA Victoria News

Signed, sealed and delivered ... it's ours!

At last, the Springvale Range is ours. The purchase of one of SSAA Victoria’s most popular ranges was finalised on Monday afternoon. SSAA Victoria Chief Executive Officer Jack Wegman said it was a “monumental win for our members”. “It was a long and convoluted journey involving two State Governments, seven different government departments and changes to an Act of Parliament,” he said. “But after years of uncertainty, we can finally say that the Springvale Range is here to stay.” SSAA Victoria first began using the site in 1972, when it was owned by the City of Springvale. The following year, a 30-year lease was signed, followed by lease renewals. The last lease was due to expire in June 2017, with no provision for renewal. “We were going to be kicked off the property,” Jack said. Fast-forward to 2013, and the land was owned by the State Government, under the control of the Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (SMCT), after the amalgamated City of Greater Dandenong sold the 12,500 sq m of land. “In 2003 SSAA Victoria tried to buy the land, but negotiations failed,” Jack said. “Ten years later, an August 2013 meeting between SSAA Victoria, the Health Minister, Minister for Sport and Recreation and the SMCT, resulted in agreement that we would buy the range, instead of pursuing a long-term lease. “To buy ourselves time, we successfully negotiated a 21-year lease in October, 2014. Written into the lease was a commitment to purchase the range, and that is what sealed the deal for us.” The arduous process involved:
  • Three different valuations
  • Governor-in-Council x 3
  • Victorian Parliament
  • Sport and Recreation Victoria
  • Department of Health
  • Treasury and Finance
  • Valuer-General’s Department
  • Solicitor-General’s Department
  • Surveyor-General’s Department
  • Government Land Monitor
  • Melbourne Water
  • Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust
  • City of Greater Dandenong
  • Two Health Ministers
  • Half a dozen senior bureaucrats and as many ministerial advisors
A change of State Government in 2014 had the potential to derail negotiations. “At that point we basically had to start again with a new Health Minister,” Jack said. With dogged persistence by SSAA Victoria, and support from friends with influence, in April 2016 the Land Revocation Bill passed through Parliament. It was the last major hurdle stopping SSAA Victoria from purchasing the land. Since that time, it’s been a bureaucratic process involving Sport and Recreation Victoria, Treasury and Finance, the Valuer-General, the Solicitor-General and the Governor-in-Council. And it all had to be gazetted. Finally, the contracts had to be drawn up and exchanged. “On a positive note, the time taken to buy the land has allowed us to build up our financial position to the strongest it has been,” Jack said. “It meant we didn’t have to rely on grant funding or a loan from SSAA National.”

Herald Sun targets shooters ... again

SSAA Victoria today prepared and submitted a complaint to the Australian Press Council (APC) and a tip-off to Media Watch following another biased article published by the Herald Sun. The article “Gun trolls target charity” claimed the so-called ‘gun lobby’ attracted new shooters by “telling disenfranchised men they were being victimised if their right to own better weapons was denied”. The article – highlighting supposed bullying by the ‘gun lobby’ – published extensive, unchallenged and wildly inaccurate quotes from Alannah and Madeline Foundation CEO Lesley Podesta. The following is an excerpt from the article:

"In many cases their lives are tough, they don't have a lot, they're victims of globalisation in some cases, their lives have been affected by job losses.

"But the answer is not 'give you a gun to give you back your masculinity, power and status in the community'.

"This is what the gun lobby tells them, that if they had these guns they wouldn't feel disempowered anymore."

The Media Watch tip-off can be read here, while the APC complaint can be read here. The crux of the complaint was that the paper failed to present both sides of the story; failed to take reasonable steps to ensure accurate information was published; failed to declare a conflict of interest and continued a campaign against lawful firearm owners. SSAA Victoria is eagerly awaiting a response from Media Watch and APC.

Australia's 25-year homicide decline

Homicide in Australia has declined over the last 25 years – since well before the introduction of the National Firearms Agreement. That information comes straight from the Australian Institute of Criminology’s new National Homicide Monitoring Report. The number of homicide incidents has fallen by 22 per cent over the last 25 years, decreasing from 307 incidents in 1989-90 to 238 incidents in 2013-14. Amid regular reports of increasing violence and gangs on our streets, it could be easy to think homicides were rife in Victoria. However, the latest AIC data shows that the homicide rate in Victoria, at 0.9 per 100,000 in 2013-14, is lower than all other states except ACT and Queensland. Victoria's homicide rate was well below Northern Territory's 6.5 per 100,000 in 2013-14. In an effort to disarm the public, the anti-gun lobby often claims firearms are the most dangerous threat to community safety, but the AIC data shows otherwise. Using that mentality, it is knives that should be removed from society. Between 1989-90 and 2013-14, excluding just two years, knives and other sharp instruments were the most common weapon used in a homicide incident in Australia. In 2013-14 knives were used in 36 per cent, or 86, homicides. Homicide victims were actually more likely to be killed by someone’s hands/feet than a firearm. Hand/feet were the second most commonly used weapon, being the cause of death in 25 per cent of homicide incidents between 1989-90 and 2013-14. The number of homicide incidents involving a firearm decreased by 57 per cent between 1989-90 and 2013-14. Firearms were used in just 13 per cent of homicide incidents in 2013-14, down from 24 per cent in 1989-90.

Other weapons reportedly used in homicides included blunt instruments, explosives, fire, poison, drugs, rope and vehicles.

*AIC graphic    

GMA out in force

SSAA Victoria has applauded Game Management Authority (GMA) officers for undertaking a recent compliance operation. GMA, Victoria Police and Parks Victoria worked together to conduct deer hunting compliance checks on the Queen’s Birthday weekend. David Laird, SSAA Victoria’s Hunting Development Manager, said it was encouraging to hear of the greater enforcement efforts. “People acting illegally, irresponsibly or unethically undermine all legitimate hunters and should not be tolerated,” he said. “Charging those acting illegally sends a strong message and ultimately supports the vast majority of hunters who do the right thing.” GMA Chief Executive Officer Greg Hyams said the operations included a road block at the Timbertop walking trail on Howqua Track and roving patrols targeting the areas around King River Valley through to Bluff Hut and along Brocks Road to Sheepyard Flats. “Over the two days 180 people were spoken to and over 50 vehicles were checked,” Mr Hyams said. “A hound hunter camp was inspected near Howqua Hills with 10 hunters interviewed. Three hounds were inspected and will be assessed against the breed standard. “One vehicle was intercepted with two local men who were in possession of firearms and spotlights in deer habitat. They will both receive infringement notices. A second vehicle was intercepted with two local men, with a loaded firearm and spotlighting equipment in deer habitat. The firearms and spotlights were seized by police, their firearm licences have been suspended and the two men will receive summons to attend court in the near future.” Mr Hyams said hunters were generally a law-abiding group but there were some who chose to do the wrong thing. “Game hunting generates jobs and contributes hundreds of millions of dollars to Victoria’s economy, particularly in rural and regional areas,” he said. "It is vital to the future of hunting that hunters act safely and responsibly at all times." SSAA Victoria encourages members to report any suspected illegal hunting activity to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or www.crimestoppersvic.com.au; or the GMA Customer Service Centre on 136 186 or www.gma.vic.gov.au
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