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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

Hunters to lose 80,000ha of access under proposal

Hunters will lose nearly to 80,000 ha of public land that is currently available for hunting in the west of Victoria under a Victorian Environment Assessment Council recommendation. VEAC released the Draft Proposals Paper for its Central West investigation and invited public comment in late August. The paper contains draft recommendations for public land categorisation and use near the Wombat, Macedon, Wellsford, Mount Cole and Pyrenees Range forests. SSAA Victoria made a submission to the initial investigation highlighting the importance of access to state forests for hunters, but that appears to have been largely ignored. “The Association’s position remains that state forest status provides adequate protection to natural resources and the environment while allowing for multiple uses of public land,” said Hunting Development Manager David Laird. “Unfortunately that view is not shared by VEAC. “The ongoing ideological push to turn huge areas of state forests into national and state parks has gained momentum with the release of these latest recommendations. “It is difficult to reconcile losing so much land to hunting with the Andrews Labor Government’s stated position of supporting hunting in Victoria. “No hunter in the state could accept that a government which truly supported hunting would implement recommendations that would result in such a significant loss of hunting opportunities.” Hunters do get one small compensation under the recommendations. The official revocation of the Mt Cole Game Sanctuary is proposed and that will allow for deer hunting to occur in the small remnant of state forest in the Mt Cole area. “However, the paper’s contention that this change will somehow make up for the enormous loss of hunting opportunity shows a complete lack of understanding of the enormity of the effect that these recommendations will have on hunting in Victoria,” Mr Laird said. The Association will be writing another submission and will also be vigorously lobbying politicians and bureaucrats on this issue. “With an election coming up in November members would be well served by contacting their local members and ensuring they are aware of this issue as well,” Mr Laird said. “It is recommended that members put in individual submissions to VEAC voicing opposition to the recommendations as well.” The full report including tables which show the proposed changes in tenure can be found here. Details about making submissions are here.

Fox samples sought

Fox hunters in the Victorian gold mining regions are being called on to help with a university study into arsenic impact on wildlife. Monash University students are collecting hair samples as an indicator of exposure to arsenic. Their goal is to identify if there is a relationship between arsenic concentrations in wildlife hair, and arsenic concentrations in soil. “Foxes are an ideal focus species as they are already culled in wide numbers, providing large sample availability,” said student Jacqui Wakefield. “As a result, the team is looking to get in touch with any fox hunters who could help. They are looking to collect both fox hairs and soil samples from the same location or property that the fox originated from.” She said arsenic is a major health risk to humans, but the impact on wildlife is not currently understood. “Arsenic contamination occurs across Australia but is significantly elevated around gold mining regions. For this reason, the team is focusing their research efforts on the wider Bendigo-Ballarat region.” The team is looking for dead foxes and location data (like a GPS coordinate) from where the fox was taken so they can collect a soil sample. “If anyone is going out fox hunting in the next few weeks, or has a few stashed in the freezer or on a fence we would love to hear from you,” Ms Wakefield said. She can be contacted at jrwak1@student.monash.edu.

Great safari deal for SSAA members

SSAA Victoria members can now take advantage of an African hunting safari offer priced in Australian dollars and at a good price. Hunting Development Manager David Laird recently returned from a safari with Philip Hennings from Khomas Highland Hunting Safaris and secured the offer. “I was genuinely impressed by Philip’s operation and talked to him about the pricing issues for Aussie hunters,” David said. “As a result, he is prepared to offer SSAA members a special deal in Aussie dollars. Five full days hunting, with a pick-up and drop-off day either side, and three species for AUD$4000. “The deal includes one gemsbok trophy (oryx), one red hartebeest trophy and either one springbok or one warthog. I wish I’d had that opportunity, as I paid for my hunt in USD.” The majority of outfitters price everything in USD and that is one of the drawbacks of hunting in Africa. The fluctuating AUD against the USD can cause uncertainty in what your hunt will end up costing, especially as most hunts are booked well in advance. “As a matter of disclosure, I get nothing out of this arrangement and neither does SSAA,” David said. “There are no kickbacks and I paid full price for my hunt. It is simply a case of a good deal for members and the potential for Philip to gain more Australian clients.” All arrangements are strictly between Philip and the hunter. A full account of David’s trip will appear in the November issue of Victorian Shooter. It was the realisation of a long-held dream. “With my 50th birthday approaching I knew it was time to make it happen,” David said. “The Africa part of the decision was easy, but Africa is a very big continent and the difficult part came in deciding where to go, what to hunt and who to hunt with. So began the research. “Word of mouth, YouTube videos, magazine articles and internet searches all provided snippets that I tried to put together to ensure I would have the hunting experience that I wanted. “It was also our 20th wedding anniversary so the trip had to cater for my wife’s needs as well. “I finally narrowed my destination to Namibia. Politically stable, relatively safe, straightforward to get to and plenty of free-range hunting on offer. “Choosing a professional hunter is a big decision and one not to be taken lightly. The hunter’s ability, attitude and approach is what will ultimately decide whether your experience is first rate or something you’d rather forget. “After creating a list of potential hunting operators and after numerous emails and a couple of phone conversations with each of them, I decided to hunt with Philip Hennings. “It turned out to be a good decision. I ended up taking very good trophies, but more importantly the entire experience was fantastic. “We hunted in some spectacular country, enjoyed excellent food and accommodation and all the people we dealt with were warm and friendly and did everything they could to make our stay wonderful. My wife, who doesn’t hunt, enjoyed herself as much as I did.” Members wanting further details about David’s experience with Khomas Highland Hunting Safaris can call him at Victorian State Office (03) 8892 2777. Philip Hennings can be contacted on +264 61 232 633, email info@khomas-highland-hunting.com or via the web www.khomas-highland-hunting.com

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 victorianshooters.com and straightshootersau.com. 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.
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