Parliament Update 14 March 2024 - Supplementary Budget Estimates

Over the past fortnight, Robert and Mark have spent time at Supplementary Budget Estimates questioning ministers and senior public servants in all government departments through the various upper house Portfolio Committees. Budget Estimates are a unique opportunity for members of the Legislative Council (the NSW Upper House) to hold the government and public service accountable and it is where the value of having members in parliament shines. Shooting, fishing and rural lobby groups and organisations may plead with the government to help them, but SFF can scrutinise and embarrass the government into acting by exposing their shortcomings at Budget Estimates.

In this round of estimates, Robert dealt most effectively on 23rd February in Portfolio Committee 5. This committee deals with Police and Counter Terrorism, is chaired by Robert and is the opportunity for SFF to shine a spotlight on NSW Police abuse of power on firearms ownership.

Robert dealt first with the overt discrimination shown against Visually Impaired target shooters who are currently trying to qualify for the 2024 Paralympics. NSW Firearms Registry, despite ongoing communication and discussions with the Minister of Police and the Minister for Family, Community and Disability Inclusion, have doubled down on their inflexibility. Click on the link below to see NSWPOL’s continued attack on disabled shooters who in their own words “just want to be treated like everyone else.”

Next, Robert questioned Deputy Commissioner David Hudson on the expertise and qualifications of the Registry’s range compliance staff, asking for employment criteria and challenging the assistant commissioner on why military templates are applied to civilian ranges. He also called out the Registry for their lack of reporting and unprofessionalism. Watch the following clip of the Deputy Commissioner dodging the questions.

From the 1st March 2024, the NSW Government issued a blanket ban on the taking of blue groper by line fishing, in addition to the existing spearfishing ban which has been in place for decades.

Ironically, the minister announced this ban the day before appearing in Mark Banasiak MLC's scheduled hearing into agriculture. Mark dedicated almost all of his allocated time in the hearing to questioning the minister and the department.

It becomes apparent very early on that the ban was imposed based on feeling and emotion, rather than actual science. This is a dangerous precedent that every fisher, hunter and farmer should be concerned about having a minister in charge who will listen to the squeaky wheels of animal rights extremists, but not science and facts. What fish species or activity involving animals will be banned next on the emotions of a few? See below for segments of Mark's questioning and exposing the Minister and her department on this poor decision-making.

NSW Groper Ban - Minister, can you identify this fish? - YouTube

NSW Blue Groper Ban - No index of abundance or stock assessment (

NSW Blue Groper Ban - Measure of Feeling & Community Engagement (

NSW Groper Ban - Where did the advice come from? (

In the community Robert spent time both at Goulburn Show and Tarago Show, touching base with local hunters, fishos and rural residents and attracting 39 new party members. He also touched base with Tarago community members fighting the proposed garbage incinerator.

Mark attended Sutherland Shire Council in the campaign to Stop The Lockout with spearfishers. He also spent time at the Bathurst Arms Fair, attracting 79 new SFF members, and made his way to Dubbo for an SFF Branch meeting there.