The victimisation of legal firearms owners and dealers operating within the boundaries of Australia's strict ownership laws has stepped up a notch, with news that a joint venture between ANZ Australia and European payments provider Worldline has cancelled essential banking services for dealers.
Rural and remote firearms users will bear the brunt of a decision by ANZ Worldline Payment Solutions to stop offering mail order, telephone order (MOTO) facilities for firearms-related entities.
The news, which filtered through to dealers via email at 4pm on a Friday afternoon at the end of October, is the latest in a series of what the industry describes as corporate social attacks.
Midway through 2021, transport company FedEx/TNT announced it was ceasing the transportation of firearms, weaponry and ammunition in both its domestic and international networks.
That was resolved in October last year when Australia Post and Startrack agreed to carry firearms through a range of existing service offerings, but in the middle of this year, buy now pay later services joined the list of service providers refusing to offer a service to Australia's legitimate shooting industry.
The latest attack on the industry, which services macropod harvesters, primary producers and the veterinary industry, as well as sporting and recreational shooters, is leaving dealers with a limited ability to transact in the lead-up to the Christmas period.
As well as that, they want to know why their businesses are being discriminated against.
"We're not doing anything against the law," one NSW business owner, who asked to remain anonymous, said. "It's almost as if these people are trying to make themselves feel better by doing this."
The firearms dealer, who has traded for 14 years without incident, said the letter advising of the change in policy had come as a complete surprise.
"We knew Worldline had purchased ANZ's merchant service - we were notified - and they said then that nothing was changing," she said.
An ANZ media release in April announced the joint venture, in which ANZ and Worldline hold 49 per cent and 51pc interest respectively.
In correspondence sighted by Queensland Country Life dated from mid-October, Worldline's CEO Petr Ryska said each merchant application was reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Although reaffirming that this week, a company spokesperson said that when it came to the sale of firearms, they "worked with merchants whose customers purchase weapons in-store, based on appropriate licence and permit checks, as is required by law".
"Where consumers are looking to buy firearms online, we do not offer ecommerce, mail order or telephone order services for the sale of those items", she said.
The Shooting Industry Foundation of Australia has hit back at the blanket ban, saying that regardless of how a payment was made, every legal firearm transaction in Australia was registered, and must be done so via a licensed firearms dealer to a police-checked firearm license holder, who has the appropriate permits in place.
"By de-platforming our industry, ANZ has ignored Australia's strong and robust firearms legislative regime that mandates how a firearm transaction takes place," SIFA CEO James Walsh said.
He added that removing the ability for licensed dealers to accept certain payments by credit card made it harder for businesses to transact with their customers, meaning they would need to source other, often less secure, payment alternatives.
"Regardless of what ANZ purports, this decision is simply a social restraint of trade on a legal and highly regulated industry, as firearms dealers who bank with ANZ will now be unable to take payments from remote customers or have the ability to service any customers who do not live in the local area," Mr Walsh said.
The NSW dealer said they'd been advised by their local branch to move their business to another banking service, as there was nothing they could do to influence decision-making.
"Tyro has taken us on but we do have to wear additional charges," she said.
"We do quite a few transactions over the phone, ranging from a $10 purchase to a couple of thousand of dollars - it forms a large part of our business.
"We service people up to five hours west of here, people who might have a neighbour in town that can pick up ammo for them and save them a drive, that sort of thing.
"We'll probably ride this out until after Christmas and see how we've been affected.
"You don't like to increase prices - we're all in the same boat here, we've all lost a lot."
The business is one of a number in the firearms trade that's changed banks in order to continue to have MOTO services, and the woman said it was ironic that just after they'd switched, they received a letter from ANZ asking what they could do better.
"We said, just be a bank, don't judge us," she said. "They've lost so much of our business by doing this - we sell torches, gum boots, all sorts of things, and none of it could be sold over the phone thanks to ANZ."
SIFA is now calling on all of Australia's one million licensed shooters and over 450 licensed firearms dealer businesses, who bank with ANZ, to send them and their shareholders a very loud message by cancelling their accounts and moving their business elsewhere.
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