A brief account of the Australian Fishing and Lifestyle Party

“I am fed-up with the government telling me where I can and cannot fish”

So spoke Airlie Beach recreational fisherman Kevin Collins in the winter of 2004. Kevin was aghast at the just-introduced Green Zoning of the Great Barrier Reef, which denied more than a third of the reef waters to commercial and recreational fishing folks – a serious violation of a citizen’s right to fish, based as the Green Zoning was on demonstrably flawed science – and a hidden political agenda.

So Kevin created a political party, the Queensland Fishing Party, which in a matter of a few months attracted over 1,000 similarly-aggrieved members – and went-on to win sufficient electoral support to earn over $220 million in compensation for affected commercial fishing operators, land-based marine industries – even suburban seafood retailers.

How was this achieved? By a judicious ‘preference deal’ negotiated by Kevin Collins and then National Party Senate Leader Senator Ron Boswell. The Queensland Fishing Party pulled over 15,000 primary votes in the 2004 federal election – not quite enough to win Kevin a seat in the Senate, but sufficient, via preferences, to secure a senate seat for then political newcomer Barnaby Joyce.

Incredibly, the Fishing Party of Queensland had helped John Howard achieve the ‘Holy Grail’ of Australian politics – control of both houses of parliament. The massive compensation pay-outs were the reward for this extraordinary effort by Kevin Collins – and the large team of party volunteers who helped him.

Flush with such success, the Fishing Party offered four candidates in the 2006 State Election: Shane Boese in the bayside Brisbane seat of Moreton (where draconian fishing access was being flagged by the Beattie government); Steve Todeschini in Townsville (who challenged Speaker-of-the-House Mike Reynold in his red-ribbon labor seat); Dr. Mike Mansfield in Cairns (a seat that Labor has held since 1901) and Peter Todd in Barron River (where Peter picked-up an astonishing 13.9% of the primary vote).

Mike Mansfield scored a healthy 11%, Steve and Shane 7% and 6% respectively. These percentages are hugely relevant to the party’s current campaign, as senate seats are often won with MUCH lower primary vote percentages: Family First Senator Steve Fielding won his seat with less than 2% of the primary vote.

As the Queensland Fishing Party post- mortemed the state campaign, it became apparent that extremist environmentalism was threatening a lot more than just ‘the right to fish’. A sickening number of “rights-to-access’ were, and remain, under threat: the right to access national parks for camping or equestrian activity, the right to chop-down a tree on your own property, a land-holders right to alter a creek or stream on his/her property, or even draw water from it.

Everywhere, Lifestyle Rights are at risk – Aussies are no longer allowed to enjoy un-restricted access to the ‘great Aussie outdoor’ lifestyle. An overblown bureaucracy and Labor governments in both Brisbane and Canberra are locking-off our outdoors at a frightening rate…

An attempt, perhaps, to turn us into an indoor nation of nerds, an inevitable consequence of what Labor and the Greens have afoot – but there is also a logical political explanation: Labor, struggling and desperate to stay in power, are pandering to every non-scientific Green demand, for the express purpose of securing their preferencesat the coming Federal poll and the next state election in 2012.

To counter the ever-increasing trashing of our basic rights by this self-serving Labor-Green alliance, the Party opted to take-on a more embracing name, one that reflected the wider concerns of the majority of Queenslanders.

So the Australian Fishing & Lifestyle Party was ‘born’ – not a birth as such but the result of the party evolving in to an entity that represents the interests of all citizens threatened by the nation’s over-bloated bureaucracy, and environmental activism being conducted with religious fervour by a relatively small number of activists, but a group with political influence way beyond their meagre numbers.