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Vic Shooter August 2018 Cover
Victorian Shooter
Hunting and Pest Control
Firearms training

Leading Sports Shooting Body

The Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (Victoria) was incorporated as a public company on October 1, 1973. We exist to promote the shooting sports and protect firearm owners' interests.

With more than 36,000 members, SSAA Victoria is a leading body representing licensed firearm owners in Victoria. SSAA Victoria has more than a dozen branches and more than 30 sub-clubs and disciplines within the organisation.

SSAA Victoria News

SSAA Victoria wins defamation case against former President

Former SSAA Victoria president Karel Zegers has been ordered to pay $887,000 in damages and all the plaintiffs’ legal costs, amounting to several hundred thousand dollars after Melbourne's Supreme Court found he had defamed eight SSAA Victoria board directors and CEO Jack Wegman. Mr Zegers was found to have set up two websites in the lead up to the 2014 SSAA Victoria board elections (in which he was a candidate) and used the websites to attack the board and Mr Wegman. Forensic examination of Mr Zegers' computer also found that he had sent eight malicious and anonymous emails to 4000 SSAA Victoria members accusing the Board and Mr Wegman of dishonest, deceptive, immoral and illegal conduct and being in breach of the SSAA Victoria Constitution. In handing down his judgement last week (August 16), His Honour Justice Dixon said, “I accept the plaintiffs’ contention that the defendant’s dominant and improper purpose was to denigrate and injure the plaintiffs in an anonymous manner in order to avoid exposure to the consequences of his actions. “I am satisfied that the defendant was actuated by malice.” Justice Dixon said the content of the emails contained “serious slurs on the reputations of the plaintiffs. “The anonymous and confusing emails challenged the honesty, integrity and character of the plaintiffs in their professional context,” he said. “They are mostly persons whose work and life depends upon their honesty, integrity and judgment.” Even though he had denied sending the emails, Mr Zegers’ defence was that he believed there to be truth in the allegations he had made against the Board and Mr Wegman. However, Justice Dixon found the allegations to be unfounded. “… the defendant … subjected the plaintiffs to his false assertions that his view of events justified the conclusion that they were dishonest and deceptive,” he said. “Ultimately, the events in court would reveal that it was the defendant who had been dishonest and deceptive and notwithstanding his protestations to the contrary, I do not accept that he had any genuine belief that the plaintiffs were dishonest, had engaged in acts of deception, or that Mr Wegman was guilty of improper conduct. “Rather, I am satisfied that the defendant was vindictive.” SSAA Victoria CEO Jack Wegman, who Justice Dixon noted “bore the brunt of the defendant’s attack”, said he was thankful justice had been done. "We regret it came to this and the result gives us no joy," Mr Wegman said. "But the size of the penalty shows how serious this matter is and justifies the course of action taken by the Board. "At the time of these events, there was a destabilising faction within the Association attempting to block the positive steps we were taking to improve our culture. "We felt compelled to take the matter to court as the last resort, but the Board considered it to be action which was vital to establishing clear standards of behaviour. “We want the people who volunteer to serve on our Board and the staff who work in our State Office to know that they will not be subjected to malicious and false accusations without consequence.” SSAA Victoria brought the defamation case to the Supreme Court after Mr Zegers rejected four requests to cease and desist. Had he accepted responsibility and retracted his accusations after the first request was made, no costs would have been incurred. The final request was made at the Supreme Court on the first day of the trial. Again it was rejected though the only thing the plaintiffs were asking for was an apology and a promise not to repeat the defamation – no costs, no damages. Instead, Mr Zegers persisted with the defence that he had not sent the emails nor had anything to do with the two websites and To prove that he had, the plaintiffs argued that the writing style of the emails matched other correspondence Mr Zegers had admitted to writing. The plaintiffs also traced the source of the websites to a South Australian website developer who submitted a document to the court denying involvement. However, the trial took a surprise turn when Justice Dixon ordered that Mr Zegers’ computer be forensically examined. The appointed digital forensic analyst (Leanne Balit) reported that a hard drive, which may have contained data relevant to the case, was missing from inside the computer. The following is the exchange between Justice Dixon, Ms Balit and Mr Zegers: HIS HONOUR: ...I wonder if we might just interrupt for a moment, because I see that Ms Balit has come back into court. COUNSEL: Yes. HIS HONOUR: (to Ms Balit) I take it you've come back into court because you've completed the task of taking the image of the disc, or have you run into problems? MS BALIT: I have completed the first part. I've done an initial review and there appears to be a hard drive missing inside the computer. HIS HONOUR: Missing what? MS BALIT: A hard drive missing from inside the computer, which may contain data on it that may be necessary. HIS HONOUR: Well, it is what it is. MS BALIT: Yes. HIS HONOUR: If your report says that you cannot answer questions because there's a hard drive missing, then I think that's what we have to say. (To the witness) Did you want to say something about that? MR ZEGERS: Yes, Your Honour. I used to have – a few years ago I used to have what's called a D drive. HIS HONOUR: Is that correct? MR ZEGERS: Yeah. And… HIS HONOUR: A what? MR ZEGERS: A D drive. A second drive. A D drive, it's called. HIS HONOUR: A D drive, yes? MR ZEGERS: And it started to play up and the data I needed I put on my C drive, or I did. It was put on my C drive, and it's as a D, which apparently means it's very, very quick, and all that. And that's all that's to it. HIS HONOUR: So, there was a drive there, but you've removed it? MR ZEGERS: Yeah. And that would be, I don't know, it could be a year and a half, two years ago. HIS HONOUR: Yes, and this is the drive that you said is no longer available? MR ZEGERS: Yes, that's correct. HIS HONOUR: (to Ms Balit) Well, you've heard that piece of evidence, to the extent that it assists you. I think we can't solve that problem. MS BALIT: Your Honour, it was there last week. There was a D drive present last week. MR ZEGERS: Oh no. Ms Balit’s report to the court included 1683 pages of material which proved Mr Zegers had authored the emails in question. It was also revealed that he had conspired with the website developer, who had created the two websites in question, to lie about setting them up. Mr Zegers then apologised to the court, admitting that he had lied. As well as awarding damages and ordering court cost payments, Justice Dixon also issued an injunction stopping Mr Zegers publishing further defamatory material against SSAA Victoria. The case has been referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions to see if Mr Zegers will face further charges of lying under oath, destroying evidence and conspiring to pervert the course of justice.   The full judgement can be found here. Barrister Justin Castelan represented the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court. A report by Mr Castelan can be found here. Because the penalty was among the highest to be awarded against an individual in Victoria, the case attracted media attention. The Age reported the case here, and because Mr Zegers is from Marong near Bendigo, the Bendigo Advertiser also reported the case.

The Greens are the new invasive species

Opinion Editorial

This piece was submitted to all news outlets in Victoria. It expresses our view about the recent attack on hunting by The Greens candidate Nicole Rowan. Her op-ed was published in four regional papers including The Border Mail, Bendigo Advertiser, Ballarat Courier and Warrnambool Standard. If you have seen this editorial, we invite you to write to the paper and express your view. August 7, 2018

The Greens are the new invasive species

In typical Greens fashion, The Greens candidate for Northern Victoria Nicole Rowan wants us to sit back and look at nature rather than be a part of it. She and The Greens want us to feel that, as humans, we are guilty interlopers on nature and that our desire to hunt our food and use the resources available to us is abhorrently unnatural, even though humans have done so for time immemorial. They want to end hunting in Victoria and replace it with tourism. Hunting is tourism and it successfully co-exists with other tourism, to the benefit of all regional Victoria. Where is this “plethora of independent economic studies” Rowan can’t seem to name which “show duck shooting is detrimental to rural areas”? We can produce at least one independent study which shows Rowan is just plain wrong. Estimating the Economic Impact of Hunting in Victoria in 2013 carried out by the Department of Environment and Primary Industries showed that duck hunting tourism alone had a positive and direct $43 million impact on the state. In total figures, hunting tourism brought a total of $439 million to regional Victoria in that year alone. Probably a lot more now that hunting has increased in popularity in the past five years. No facts fudged there. That’s an independent government report, unlike the supportive document for the Great Forest National Park. The document (Great Forest National Park: economic contribution of park establishment, park management, and visitor expenditure) was funded by corporate pro-Green giants The Wilderness Society. The very beginning of the executive summary on the report reads “Nous Group (Nous) was engaged by The Wilderness Society to undertake a narrowly scoped analysis”. Is it narrowly scoped because they don’t want us to know the whole truth about the massive tax-payer burden to replace the current income from the areas earmarked in this sop to inner-city voters who never visit the bush? And The Greens want us to believe it’s the other parties and politicians who use “facts rather loosely”. From this evidence it appears Rowan and The Greens want to rob regional towns of real, tested, studied and proven hunting-tourism dollars and replace them with yet another eco-tourism fantasy. They want to deny Victorian families fresh, organic, free-range food hunted on public land and feed us supermarket sausages served up on plastic trays. SSAA Victoria believes our bush should be open to everyone, especially the hunters who are the real environmentalists. It was hunters who restored Victoria’s wetlands where game and protected species (and tourism) now thrive, and it is hunters who control invasive species in the bush. The Greens are the new invasive species in the bush. Only voters can control them. Jack Wegman CEO SSAA Victoria  

New Adjunct Legal Service for members

Lawyer Peter Cooper has been SSAA Victoria’s counsel when it comes to legal matters concerning firearms and his services are now available at the state office in Box Hill. Under a new arrangement with SSAA Victoria, Mr Cooper will attend the office two days a week and provide legal advice to Association members at a third of his normal rate. He can either act on behalf of a member on matters which or refer the case to the appropriate legal service. Areas of service offered under the arrangement include:
  • Offences involving alleged breaches of the Wildlife Act 1975 and regulations, and where the Game Management and/or police are involved.
  • Matters involving representation of a member before the Firearms Appeal committee and/or VCAT on rights-based issues.
  • Matters involving the Licensing & Regulation Division, including applications, submissions and re-applications after a period of prohibition including being a member of a proscribed organisation.
  • Advice on and preparation of wills and estates, especially where the estate contains firearms and collectibles.
  • Matters involving prohibited person status and applications to become a non-prohibited person.
“Becoming a prohibited person is a concern for many firearms users, particularly given the broad arbitrary nature it can be imposed,” Mr Cooper said. “It’s possible to make application to be a non-prohibited person with a high probability of success.” However, it comes at a cost with the estimate for the process at $1320. As a member benefit, an annual $50 subscription is offered where the subscriber would have the process cost covered. SSAA Victoria CEO Jack Wegman said the new Adjunct Legal Service was another of a raft of member benefits. “We’ve introduced a new training program, stepped up our involvement in the hunting space and now our members have access to discounted legal advice from a firearms specialist,” he said. “Peter Cooper has had a long relationship with SSAA Victoria and our members and we’re pleased he has agreed to now offer his services on a more formal basis. “We want our members to know they have someone in their corner who can give them a fair go when it comes to legal matters.” To make an appointment, call Peter Cooper Lawyer on 0430 468 127.

SSAA Victoria's Lachie Adolph new world champion

SSAA Mildura's Lachie Adolph won the Fifty Calibre Shooters Association's Junior world title at the NRA Whittington Centre in New Mexico, USA. The 13-year-old Long Range Shooting Club Mildura member said he was at the event earlier this month for the experience, but ended up bringing home some nice prizes along with his world title. “It feels great, being able to achieve that,” Lachie said. “I’m pretty speechless, that’s for sure. “I had high expectations of myself but I thought I was going over there for the experience – I didn’t expect to win I just expected to learn from it.” After shooting his first three groups of five shots over 1000 yards on day one, Lachie was just a point off the lead. But he did better the following day, dropping just four points for a total of 13 to take the lead in the Junior competition with an average group size of 10.75 inches which helped him to achieve 287/300 points. “I kept my composure really well on the second day, dealt with being a bit nervous, and came out good,” he said. “I knew I’d be around the top two or three, I thought maybe I’d be coming first but you don’t know, it was that close ... I knew I’d shot really good on the second day and was only one point behind after day one.” He also gave the seniors a shake to finish eighth overall, and his score included one grouping that was fourth best of all shooters at the titles. Among his prizes was a McMillan .50 cal target rifle, but Lachie said meeting the leaders in the sport was the best reward. “There was a lot of people there who have won top events and done many things. Just being around those people and learning from them was great,” he said.
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