In the event that the LNP forms government with crossbench help following the state election expected later this year, Katter’s Australia Party says it will support all aspects of its newly minted firearms policy, with the exception of its handling of category H licences.
Released last week, the LNP’s police spokesman, Tim Mander, said the policy promised to renew all existing category H weapons licences for primary producers.
“The LNP will ensure that all new applicants are fairly assessed and in a timely manner,” he said, adding that people who have had their licence renewal refused since Labor formed government, would be able to reapply for consideration.
“A Tim Nicholls-led government would be advising the Weapons Licensing Branch to implement our policy,” he said. “The government can’t abrogate its responsibility to public servants, which is what Labor has done.”
However, KAP’s state parliamentary leader and the Member for Mount Isa, Rob Katter, said that wasn’t good enough and he would be hanging out for an “as of right” clause for primary producers, if he were in a position to influence policy in a new parliament.
“Under the influence of the Labor government, the Weapons Licensing Branch has taken a different view to handgun licences, and there’s no guarantee that can be turned round now,” he said.
“There’s a separation of powers – the LNP wouldn’t be able to force Weapons Licensing to do anything – so we wanted to take their discretion out.”
Both the LNP and KAP have been tabling instances in Parliament of landholders who had previously held category H licences for many years, being refused in the last year or so.
It culminated in a motion by KAP in parliament in September for primary producers to have “as of right” access to category H firearms, which wasn’t supported by the LNP or Labor.
Mr Katter said last week’s policy, released in the wake of that lack of support, fell well short of what KAP wanted to see.
“Otherwise, the rest of the policy is good – it mirrors our own policies,” he said.
ALP accuses LNP of weakening gun laws
State Police Minister, Mark Ryan, accused the LNP of weakening current gun laws as part of a preference deal with One Nation.
“The LNP’s election policy on firearm regulations is clearly the LNP sucking up to One Nation,” he said.
“The LNP is proposing automatic renewal of category H licences with just a ‘fit and proper person’ test.
“Under the current laws, gun owners must re-apply and, as well as showing they are a fit and proper person, they must have a genuine reason to hold a concealable hand gun.”
Mr Ryan said the LNP’s proposed removal of the genuine reasons criteria for re-application for category H licence holders was a blatant watering down of gun laws and a further deviation from the National Firearms Agreement.
“Insultingly, the LNP has also implied the QPS Weapons Licensing Branch has not been complying with the law,” he said. “Such allegations are offensive to our hardworking police officers and the LNP should immediately withdraw these outrageous claims.”
Mr Ryan’s comments have been rejected by Opposition leader, Tim Nicholls, who said people who currently hold a licence have gone through a process, and would have their licences renewed “much like a driver of a car”.
“That is the system currently in place, but it is a system Labor is abusing to deny landholders their rights under existing licences and we won’t stand for it,” he said. “This is nothing but a Labor scare campaign.”
Mr Katter was similarly scathing of Mr Ryan’s comments.
“They’ve taken all evidence and commonsense out of the debate. I don’t give credence to anything they say on this,” he said.