For Queensland primary producers, firearms are a tool of the trade used for specific purposes such as humanely euthanising sick, distressed or injured livestock, and controlling feral animals like wild dogs and pigs.
The vast majority of primary producers have always treated firearms with respect, and ensure they comply with the various state and federal regulations relating to training, handling, storage and registration that have flowed from the National Firearms Agreement in 1996.
However, despite the goodwill of primary producers and no change to their circumstances or needs, more and more police resources seem to be dedicated to closely scrutinising legitimate firearm users rather than cracking down on criminals.
I think most police officers would prefer to see more time and effort spent pursuing criminals who misuse firearms rather than on administering regulations and licensing low risk, legal firearm owners like primary producers.
It’s frustrating that Queensland’s Weapons Licensing Branch regularly and almost systematically refuses to authorise Category C, D and H licences for primary production use, despite the Weapons Act 1990 specifically recognising and allowing such licensing.
I’m particularly concerned that AgForce is still hearing about more and more applications being denied for both new licences and renewals of category H firearms (handguns).
It’s an issue we’ve raised with the Queensland Government on numerous occasions, including at a Ministerial Firearms Forum where the Police Minister agreed for the Weapons Licencing Branch to review the declined applications.
It’s now been a couple of months since that forum and we’re still waiting to find out what is going on with that review.
AgForce recognises and understands the need for ensuring public safety and an appropriate approval process. However, the process should be streamlined and applications should be assessed in accordance with current Queensland law, not on any potential future changes that may or may not flow from the new National Firearms Agreement.
Primary producers need firearms to be able to do their jobs effectively so access should not be denied without justifiable reasons, and regulations need to be practical and reflect the reality of the circumstances producers face on the ground on a daily basis.