Gun lobby funding One Nation candidates
GUN advocates affiliated with the American National Rifle Association are helping fund One Nation's return to Queensland politics and another shooters' body is paying for full-page ads urging voters to "flick" the major parties.
The Queensland Shooters Union has spent thousands of dollars boosting One Nation candidates including former party director Jim Savage.
The Electoral Commission of Queensland's donations disclosure website shows the Shooters Union gave $1400 to Brian Higgins, the One Nation's Gregory candidate; $1327.45 to Chelle Dobson, One Nation's Gympie candidate; and $1476.95 to Mr Savage's campaign in Lockyer.
Katter's Australian Party has received $175,314.81 in donations from gun dealer and son-in-law of Federal MP Bob Katter, Robert Nioa.
Mr Savage and Mr Higgins did not respond to requests for comment.
The Toowoomba-based Shooters Union is an affiliate of the American National Rifle Association and has advocated for looser gun laws.
Ms Dobson said gun owners were being unfairly targeted under existing laws.
"Law-abiding firearm owners are not the problem, it's the criminals," she said.
"Let's focus our law and order policy, which is what we have done."
"We have a policy that supports law-abiding firearm owners, and they (Shooters Union) were happy to sponsor a number of candidates for the Queensland election."
Ms Dobson said the Shooters Union relationship with the NRA was no different to a doctor dealing with an international healthcare group.
"You need to understand that Australia and America have different firearm laws. I have never had anything to do with the NRA. We deal with Australia and Queensland. (The Shooters Union) may deal with a number of firearm groups all around the world. Just as in our healthcare people would deal with professionals all over the world. It would be no different," she said.
The Shooters Union has repeatedly called for Lockyer Valley voters to elect Mr Savage.
Shooters Union president Graham Park said the group had paid for billboard advertising for the three One Nation candidates.
"We offered to pay for some billboards for a small number of candidates in key areas who would have prominent spots to display them. These three candidates have so far have taken up the offer. Some candidates we have approached apparently aren't as interested in billboards," he said.
"Generally, we don't donate to parties as a whole, nor do we donate cash to individual candidates, but we do offer funding for campaign materials. The candidates to whom we have offered such support are on the record as being supporters of legitimate firearms ownership."
Meanwhile, a separate gun-rights group, the Shooters Industry Foundation Australia, is behind a campaign discouraging people from voting Labor or LNP.
The "Flick 'Em" campaign has run full page ads in multiple daily newspapers as well as billboards in Townsville and Rockhampton urging voters to "put the major (parties) last".
The campaign's website, www.putthemajorslast.com.au, is registered to SIFA and features the same person as a communications contact.
The Flick 'Em website states it is a "collective action group" that does not support individual candidates and does not mention SIFA or guns.
SIFA is based in Victoria but has taken a keen interest in the Queensland election, releasing multiple media statements about it.
Flick 'Em is registered to an address next to the Townsville Rifle Range and Sporting Shooters Association.
In a media release Flick 'Em spokesman Michael Norris said the LNP and Labor had "failed Queensland".
"We want to challenge the power of the two major parties in this state because they have proven they just can't be trusted to lead. Queensland voters have a real opportunity to make change at this election and we're very active in spreading the word," he said.
In a statement, SIFA executive officer Rod Drew said the group backed the campaign.
"SIFA has committed funds to support Flick 'Em and its objective to ensure genuine representation for the people of one of Australia's largest states," he said.
"Queensland only has one house of parliament and it's important to have diverse voices on the cross bench, because the alternative is a majority government that will not consult, negotiate or debate legislation until 2021," Mr Drew says.
Mr Park said the Shooters Union were not SIFA members, but "fully supported" the campaign and SIFA's efforts.
One Nation has promised to "move away from trying to criminalise firearms ownership" and to allow hunters access to Queensland state forests.
Australia's gun laws have been among the strictest in the world since the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre. - NewsRegional