Queensland primary producers requiring a handgun as part of their work can take heart from the dismissal of an appeal by the Queensland Police Service last Friday.
Although Quilpie grazier Danny Salmon was successfully able to argue to the Queensland Civil and Administration Tribunal in July last year that he had a genuine reason for possessing a revolver, as an occupational requirement for rural purposes, the decision was appealed by the Queensland Police Service's Weapons Licensing Branch.
That appeal was dismissed last Friday, a decision that has been hailed by Shooters Union Australia as a victory for the state's primary producers.
"It's good news for Mr Salmon but it's extremely good news for primary producers in general," Shooters Union national president Graham Park said. "I hope it benefits Weapons Licensing too, in that it surely gives them some guidance."
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Mr Park said the original decision followed by the dismissal of the appeal of that decision indisputably set a legal precedent in Queensland that being a farmer was an "occupational reason" under the Weapons Act to have a handgun licence.
As a result he hoped they would now see a simplified renewal process for category H weapons when nothing had substantially changed in the applicant's circumstances.
Mr Salmon of Ardnoch, Quilpie, who has held a category H weapons licence since 1996, tried to renew his licence in May 2017 but it was rejected on the grounds that the Queensland Police Service wasn't satisfied there was a genuine need or reason to hold a handgun licence, arguing there were alternate means to meet his needs by using a weapon of a different category.
The matter was taken to QCAT, who ruled in Mr Salmon's favour.
The QPS appealed on three grounds, that the tribunal hadn't taken into account the objectives of the Weapons Act when it judged Mr Salmon to have demonstrated a genuine reason for possessing that class of firearm for his occupation, that personal protection or safety had been irrelevantly considered when determining that a genuine reason existed, and that the judgement that it was necessary to have that particular class of weapon had been wrong.
All three grounds were dismissed.
The Shooters Union, along with AgForce and other groups, has been supporting Mr Salmon with contributions towards legal costs and Mr Park said the decision was the right call.
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"This ruling means farmers will have the tools they need to do their job and provides greater clarity and certainty to our primary producers," he said. "I would also hope that new applications by primary producers for category H licences will be considered fairly."
Comparing the ease with which sporting shooters were able to obtain a licence to the difficulties experienced by farmers and graziers, Mr Park said there seemed to be a bias against agricultural occupational use, which he didn't understand.
"There's no public safety risk to letting farmers have handguns.
"They've had them for decades with no issues whatsoever, and the only reason it ever became a problem is because a civil servant has decided to create an issue out of nothing."
Mr Park quoted figures of 95 per cent of firearms stolen being rifles or shotguns, saying very few handguns were stolen from premises and even less from farmers.
While the Shooters Union has seen an improvement in the number of primary producer category H applications being successful this year, a number were still being denied.
"It seems to be subjective," Mr Park said. "This successful case highlights the point that any primary producer who feels their case has been unfairly denied should appeal to QCAT."
He added that politicians should be asking serious questions about how much government money was spent fighting issues such as Mr Salmon's appeal in QCAT and whether that money would be better spent on issues like drought relief, bushfire control, education, or supporting front-line police with the equipment they need to keep the community safe from actual criminals.
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