Steve Cansdell announces he is running as a candidate for the seat of Clarence as a member of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party.
Steve Cansdell announces he is running as a candidate for the seat of Clarence as a member of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party. Adam Hourigan

Church, Shooters in war of words on extremism

STEVE Cansdell has slammed the timing of comments by a Grafton church leader linking the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party to white supremacists.

During an interview on ABC Coffs Harbour yesterday morning, Christ Church Cathedral Dean, the Very Reverend Dr Gregory Jenks, grouped the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party with One Nation as parties with links to elements of white supremacy.

Mr Cansdell is standing as the Shooters, Farmers and Fishers candidate for the seat of Clarence in the NSW Election this Saturday. He said the timing of the comments ahead of the election and in the wake of the New Zealand massacre was inflammatory and insensitive.

"To go and say words to the effect of 'Shooters and One Nation elements of white supremists' is just crap," Mr Cansdell said.

"For a Dean of Grafton to start politicising this is disgusting, totally ill-informed, and he needs to be brought to task for his words.

"I don't give a damn if it costs me the election because I think this needs to be raised.

Some parties have been proven to have links to extremist groups in the past. In October 2018, the National Party investigated up to 35 of its NSW members for links to alt-right, white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups.

However, Mr Cansdell said SFF had never had any direct links with fascism.

"I'm p----- off that someone of that high authority, in a Christian church, says that on public radio and accuses people he knows nothing about," he said.

"We've never been linked to any white supremacist ever. The Nationals have, they've had 35 of them in their branches, and they didn't do anything about it until ABC did a report on TV. We've never had any connection with that whatsoever."

Dr Jenks defended the comments he made on ABC radio which linked SFF and One Nation to elements of white supremacists, expressing his concerns about gun control.

"I pointed out that polls are suggesting radical conservative groups, in particular the Shooters who have a candidate in the upcoming election, are very strong in this community," Dr Jenks said.

"Any lobby group that's trying to get the gun laws relaxed and give people access to weapons is a concern."

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has flagged changes to gun control laws in New Zealand in the wake of the shootings. Five legally-obtained firearms were used during the attacks. New Zealand has about one firearm to every four people and no ban on semi-automatic weapons.

Mr Cansdell said Dr Jenks' comments tarnished the reputation of hundreds of honest, law-abiding gun owners living in the seat of Clarence.

"To link us with fascism is just an insult to many, many families. People in the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party here are law abiding gun owners.

"They're good family people. It's a sport to many of them, for some it's about feral animal eradication, others may have to go out west at times to cull roos when there's a plague for the farmers. They are all legal, law-abiding citizens.

"We are the only party to come out with a policy of mandatory sentencing of any illegal use of firearms or illegal firearms."

More than one million people have signed a petition to remove Queensland Senator Fraser Anning from Parliament after his remarks following the Christchurch mosque massacre.

The former One Nation and Katter Party member retaliated when he was struck by an egg on the back of the head on Sunday by a 17-year-old male while speaking to media and his supporters in Melbourne.

"He chooses his words very badly," Mr Cansdell commented. "I don't support any of these statements and accusations he's made."