Hunters lose traction if Quadbike sales cease

FEDERAL Government legislation mandating roll-over safety bars in all new quad bikes from October next year could be the end of a vital piece of hunting and agricultural equipment in Australia, the country’s pre-eminent shooting group says.

From October 2021, all quad bikes imported or sold new in Australia will, among other things, be required to have rollover bars installed, allegedly for safety reasons.

However, the four largest quad bike brands in Australia – Honda, Polaris, Suzuki, and Yamaha – have said they will cease selling their quad bikes in Australia once the regulations come into force from October 2021, severely limiting the range available and potentially spelling the end of quad bikes as rural utility vehicles in Australia.

Shooters Union Australia president Graham Park said quad bikes were essential equipment for hunters and farmers alike, and was deeply concerned at the lack of “on the ground” consultation carried out before the new regulations were introduced.

“I don’t think the people making these laws realise just how big the Australian bush is, or how their well-meaning but poorly implemented regulations are going to affect hundreds of thousands of hunters and farmers,” Mr Park said.

“Quad bikes are essential for travelling across rough terrain on large farms, and they also provide a stable and safe way to transport firearms in the field, particularly in areas where there are lots of game or pests and the shooter may need to be retrieving and replacing their gun frequently.

“Essentially removing them from the market is going to make it incredibly difficult for hunters, pest controllers and primary producers to do their jobs – not everyone can ride a motorbike and they’re not always the right choice for the terrain, animals being pursued, or climate.”

Mr Park said quad bikes were not inherently unsafe and Shooters Union had questions over the ACCC statistics justifying the new regulations.

“We do not believe their statistics take into account factors such as reckless behaviour, being driven by people under 16, or having extra passengers,” Mr Park said.

“If people wish to retrofit safety devices like rollbars to their quad bikes, we fully support them in that choice – especially if the Government wants to subsidise the cost of doing so. What we do not support is the Government mandating their inclusion to the point where they’re basically closing down the market for most of the products and hurting our rural sector as a result.

“When four major manufacturers are saying they will leave the Australian market over this, the Federal Government really needs to pay attention.

“We join the calls for the Federal Government to re-evaluate these regulations and listen to the manufacturers, hunters and primary producers who know these machines and the environments they work in best.”

NAB apologises for gun shop closures

In completely non-COVID-19 related matters, we have had an extremely productive and open conversation with senior executives at National Australia Bank (NAB) – particularly their Customer Relations head and Business Banking head – regarding NAB’s closure of accounts at a
number of firearm businesses recently.

They have apologised unreservedly for the situation, and clarified it was a mistake affecting a small number of businesses which were accidentally reclassified from “Business” to a different, non-commercial category.

The bank’s representatives have assured us there is no policy at NAB to deny business services to gun shops and armourers.

In fact, they went as far as to say firearm dealers and armourers are more than welcome at NAB. They have said there is some additional paperwork required for firearms businesses, including copies of some ASIC documentation, due to the regulated nature of licensed firearms businesses,
but they are happy to work with licensed firearms business.

The conversations have all been very productive and NAB now have better understanding of the environment and framework gun dealers and armourers work in, and we have a better understanding of how the situation came about in the first place.

As much as we all love to get angry and hate on anyone not supporting shooters, it’s also important we acknowledge when someone who has made a mistake fixes it – and in this case, NAB have realised they made a mistake, fixed it, and apologised – as well as taking steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

We are thankful to NAB for taking the time to listen to our concerns and take us seriously, and for offering an unreserved apology for the situation.

If every issue involving shooters could be so constructively and positively resolved, we’d all be a lot better off – not to mention having more time and energy to focus on enjoying shooting, too.

Shooters Demand Government Immediately Lift Gun Shop Trade Restrictions in Qld

THE Queensland Government’s spiteful war on struggling businesses must end today, according to one of the country’s peak lobby groups.

In March, the state’s Chief Health Officer issued an order closing every gun shop and armourer in the state as part of the COVID-19 response. Following intense pressure and from industry, agricultural and rural representatives, that was amended a few days later to allow rural landowners and volunteer pest controllers to buy ammunition and reloading components, but still
prevented target shooters, recreational hunters, and competition pistol shooters from buying ammunition or using police-issued Permits To Acquire for firearms.

Shooters Union Australia president Graham Park said with the notoriously anti-gun Western Australia now having lifted their trade restrictions and Victoria – also helmed by a Labor premier – having followed soon after, Queensland had no excuse to keep preventing licensed shooters
from buying ammunition or vital equipment.

“There is no – I repeat: absolutely none whatsoever – public health emergency justification for restricting the trade of licensed gun shops and armourers in Queensland or anywhere else, for that matter. There wasn’t one at the start of this mess and there isn’t one now,” he said.

“It is obviously a political move; only the Labor state governments restricted gun shop trading.

The decision was not an outcome of the formal National Cabinet meetings, from what we understand.

“The home confinement directions have largely been lifted, outdoor shooting ranges are open again while exercising social distancing, and non-essential retail shopping is expressly permitted so why are Queensland’s shooters and associated businesses being punished?”

The toll on affected businesses from the trade restrictions was enormous, Mr Park said, with a number of gun shops facing financial ruin from having their livelihoods yanked out underneath them without any justification.

“These were viable local businesses, an important part of their community, and shut down because someone in Brisbane doesn’t like guns and decided to take advantage of a crisis to further their own agenda,” he said.

“Every hour Queensland’s gun shops and armourers remain restricted in trade just adds to the mountain of proof this decision has been made to hurt law-abiding firearms owners and the businesses supporting them.”

Mr Park blasted the State Government’s refusal to justify themselves on the restrictions and said they needed to be held to account.

“We have not received a single response to any of the numerous letters and e-mails we have sent the Premier, and the only response we have received from the Chief Health Officer’s office was clearly written by a staffer and reiterated the changes allowing rural landowners and volunteer pest controllers to buy ammunition – changes we helped negotiate in the first place.

“The contempt the Palaszczuk Government has shown to Queensland’s law-abiding shooting community is simply incredible.

“They haven’t even given us the courtesy of an obvious and half-baked lie as to why they’ve done it – we’ve heard absolutely nothing.

“We guarantee there will be consequences at the ballot box in October for the way Queensland shooters have been treated by the ALP. We’re going to make sure of it.”

President Graham Park: president@shootersunion.com.au or 0418 700 320
Media director Royce Wilson: media@shootersunion.com.au or 0410 645 035

Letter to Mark Ryan on silencer petition response

The Hon. Mark Ryan MP
Queensland Police Minister
Via e-mail to police@ministerial.qld.gov.au

April 20, 2020

Dear Mr Ryan,
We note your April 16, 2020 dated response to Petition 3282-20, in which you reject the plea of the petitioners to reclassify firearm sound suppressors (“silencers”) from Category R to Category A under the Weapons Categories Regulation 1997.

We are concerned you have not given the matter genuine consideration and have not addressed the issue raised in the petition. Your response mentions the Port Arthur tragedy, yet suppressors were not used in that incident and we remain baffled as to why you would even bring it up in this context.

There is no such thing as “a permanently inoperable silencer”. If a suppressor/silencer is rendered inoperable, it is no longer a device capable of suppressing the sound of a gunshot and is, per the legislation, therefore not a Category R weapon.

Your response states “Queensland remains committed to the spirit of the National Firearms Agreement. Therefore, in the interests of safety, I can advise that there is no intention to remove silencers from Category R weapons at this time.”

Mr Ryan, suppressors are safety equipment. There is a mountain of evidence on the subject – evidence we would be only too happy to direct you towards, had you or one of your staff asked.

Suppressors do not totally silence gunshots. They bring the noise down from 130dB to around 90-100dB, which is still very loud, but will not cause immediate hearing damage to the firer, startle pest animals some distance away, or keep the residents of neighbouring farms awake at night.

The gunshot is still clearly audible, but it is not deafening.

We also note suppressors or silencers are not covered in the National Firearms Agreement (which is not legislation anyway) and that a number of states – including New South Wales, South Australia and Victoria – make suppressors available to licensed firearms users for occupational purposes such as pest control or agricultural reasons.

There is absolutely no valid reason – none whatsoever – that the same could not be true of Queensland. Call of Duty video games and secret agent movies are not a sound basis for making legislative decisions, and frankly we are all tired of having something that happened nearly 25 years ago constantly being used as a mantra-like parroted justification to refuse matters like those raised in the petition.

We appreciate the Labor party apparently does not like guns, especially in the hands of hunters and sporting shooters, but please do not insult our intelligence by dismissing sensible firearm issues being raised by constituents – who can back their requests with facts and evidence – with trite responses that sound like one of your staffers did a quick Google search at 4pm on a Friday and didn’t understand or agree with what they saw.

Dismissive and irrelevant responses like that provided to this petition undermine Queenslanders’ already shaky confidence in parliamentary petitions, which have an extremely short track record of achieving legislative change this century as it is.

To say we are disappointed in your response to this matter is an understatement. There is an election in October and Queensland’s 200,000 licensed firearms users expect better from their elected representatives.

Yours sincerely,

Graham Park
President, Shooters Union Australia
E: president@shootersunion.com.au | Ph: 0418 700 320

Victorian Police Minister called upon to resign in wake of ‘disgusting’ domestic violence comments

ONE of Australia’s most prominent pro-firearms organisations has called for Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville to resign in the wake of disgusting, offensive and baseless comments implying licensed firearms owners were domestic violence offenders.

Speaking at a televised press conference yesterday morning, Ms Neville openly declared the Victorian Government’s decision to halt the sale of ammunition and firearms parts to recreational hunters and target shooters was due to concerns over the potential for domestic violence incidents as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Shooters Union Australia president Graham Park slammed the comments, calling them “quite possibly the most offensive, disgusting, ignorant and dangerous thing I have ever heard from a Government Minister”.

“I am simply flabbergasted by the Minister’s delusional and appalling comments, and I cannot believe she was allowed to air them unchecked.”

 “Many law-abiding firearms owners are themselves victims of domestic violence, so Ms Neville has succeeded only in re-victimising and traumatising a vulnerable group for her own political ends,” he said.

“It is clear that someone with such clear disgust and disdain for the most law-abiding parts of the Victorian community is not fit to be the Police Minister, and she should apologise and resign immediately.”

Obtaining a firearms licence is a time-consuming process with many background checks undertaken – including checks related to domestic violence.

“Anyone who has a firearms licence has proven themselves to be an upstanding, fit and proper person in the community. They are the group least likely to be perpetrating domestic violence,” Mr Park said.

“I cannot reiterate strongly enough just how utterly disgusted we are with the Police Minister’s insinuations. They are shameful and she should be ashamed of herself for uttering them.”

Mr Park said the fact gun stores were the only general retail outlet ordered to stop trading with a particular group of customers was further proof the declarations had nothing to do with public safety or domestic violence concerns.

“If Ms Neville is so worried about domestic violence, why is Bunnings still open? They sell axes, chainsaws, poison, and all manner of other dangerous items,” he said.

“What about places selling kitchen knives? Camping stores selling knives? Sports stores selling baseball bats? They’re still open and trading.

“Why are bottle shops still trading? Everyone knows alcohol is a massive factor in domestic violence incidents.”

Mr Park said the Government’s statements proved the sales restrictions had nothing to do with ‘public safety’ or domestic violence and everything to do with blatant, hateful and damaging discrimination.

“Substitute ‘hunters and recreational shooters’ for ‘the LGBTQI community’ or ‘black people’ and see if the rationale Ms Neville provided is OK. And the answer is no, because it’s not OK,” he said.

“We have said it before and we will say it again: There is no public health risk involved in letting licensed gun shops sell ammunition and parts to all licensed shooters, not just primary producers.”

“Yes, there’s a pandemic on, but that’s not an excuse to start pushing a discriminatory agenda under the blatantly false cover of ‘public safety’.”

Mr Park said there was also the very concerning fact the Victorian Government had apparently just admitted it has no faith in the integrity of its own firearms licensing system,  despite having spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the registry over the years.

“If they’ve admitted they can’t get that right, what other serious public health and safety matters are they dropping the ball on?,” he asked.

Mr Park said there was a strange idea among the public that guns were readily available to anyone, when that could not be further from the truth.

“I cannot make this any clearer: No-one, even with a gun licence, can walk into a gun shop in Victoria, pick out a firearm, and walk out the door with it right away,” he said.

“Buying a gun requires a licence – which requires numerous police and background checks and takes several months to get – as well as a police-issued permit for every additional gun the licence-holder wants to get.

“There are already checks and balances in the system to ensure unsuitable people do not legally acquire firearms.

“We fully support licensing and background checks to make sure only upstanding, law-abiding people can buy firearms – but we will not tolerate those upstanding, law-abiding people then being slandered by the same Government responsible for issuing them a gun licence in the first place,” he said.


President Graham Park: president@shootersunion.com.au or 0418 700 320

Media director Royce Wilson: media@shootersunion.com.au or 0410 645 035

Letter to Dr Jeanette Young, Qld Chief Health Officer re closure of gun shops

Dr Jeanette Young
Queensland Chief Health Officer
Via E-mail

March 28, 2020

Dear Dr Young,

I write regarding the “Direction from Chief Health Officer in accordance with emergency powers arising from the declared public health emergency (No. 3)” issued by you March 27, 2020.

As part of this direction, “Licensed armourers and licensed dealers as defined under the Weapons Act 1990” are declared non-essential and ordered to close.

Why have you made this declaration, Dr Young? What public health risk do gun shops and armourers – businesses that are only patronised by people with firearms licences, who have undergone stringent background checks – pose in Queensland at present?

I remind you that under Queensland law, a person must have a firearms licence AND a valid Permit To Acquire issued by the police Weapons Licensing Branch before they can purchase a firearm. It is not possible for anyone – licensed or unlicensed – to walk into a gun shop, buy a gun, and immediately leave with it. A firearms licence is also required to purchase ammunition.

It is patently ridiculous that under your declaration farmers, hunters and other licensed firearms owners can no longer buy ammunition or spare parts – all of which are essential items for them – yet it is entirely possible for people to go to a major shopping centre and purchase such frivolities as scented candles, cheap costume jewellery, or decorative homewares.

Why is a candle shop or fashion jewellery store considered essential, yet a licensed firearms dealer is not?

Given the absurdity of this situation, and the uncertainty and ill-will this declaration is creating amongst Queenslanders – particularly the confusing rules regarding which businesses are “essential” (as the Government’s version clearly does not pass the pub test) – we formally request that you:

  1. Remove Licensed Armourers and Licensed Dealers (as defined under the Weapons Act 1990) from the ‘non-essential’ Declaration immediately; or
  2. Immediately declare ALL retail businesses which are not supermarkets, pharmacies, convenience stores, liquor outlets, petrol stations or similar to be “non-essential” and thus subject to closure under the Direction.

This is a serious and unprecedented situation and the Government must be seen to be acting on facts and evidence, not feelings, optics or political agenda.

The economic impacts of this decision will be severe for the state’s firearms industry, along with related industries – all of whom play a vital part in our state’s economy.

Being seen to treat all Queenslanders equally is critical at this time, and we suggest this Declaration does not reflect that.

Yours sincerely,

Graham Park

President, Shooters Union Australia

E: president@shootersunion.com.au | Ph: 0418 700 320

Letter to QLD Premier regarding firearms as an essential business

The Hon. Annastacia Palaszczuk

Premier of Queensland

Via E-mail to thepremier@premiers.qld.gov.au

March 28, 2020

Dear Ms Palaszczuk,

I write regarding the “Direction from Chief Health Officer in accordance with emergency powers arising from the declared public health emergency (No. 3)” issued by the state’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jeanette Young, at 10:43pm on March 27, 2020.

As part of this direction, “Licensed armourers and licensed dealers as defined under the Weapons Act 1990” were declared non-essential and ordered to close.

We say this declaration is clearly incorrect and on behalf of every law-abiding firearms user in Queensland, we formally request you declare licensed firearms dealers, armourers and other members of the firearms industry to be an Essential Business in Queensland.

Licensed firearms dealers and armourers provide an essential service to every single farmer, grazier, hunter, feral pest control and licensed firearms owner in Queensland. They supply ammunition needed to control pest animals in rural areas, and they supply the parts need to keep firearms operating.

It is patently ridiculous that right now, farmers, hunters and other licensed firearms owners can no longer buy essential ammunition or parts, yet people can to go to a major shopping centre and purchase completely non-essential items like decorative homewares or designer fashion.

It is clear the Government’s definition of an “essential business” does not pass the ‘pub test’ in this case and once again we request you rectify this and ensure the state’s firearms industry is officially classified as an Essential Business – because it is.

Yours sincerely,

Graham Park

President, Shooters Union Australia

E: president@shootersunion.com.au | Ph: 0418 700 320

Letter to WA Police Commissioner Dawson regarding closure of gun shops

Christopher Dawson
WA Police Commissioner
Via E-mail

March 27, 2020

Commissioner Dawson,

I write regarding the “Closure of Gun Shops” direction issued by you today (March 27, 2020).

To be frank, Commissioner, it is appalling and quite literally the sort of thing we would have expected in East Germany during the Cold War, not a state of Australia in 2020.

How does closing legitimate business which can only be patronised by people with a firearms licence (not an easy thing to get, especially in WA) “ensure public safety during the state of emergency”?

What specific threat are you protecting the public from?

The economic costs from this are potentially incalculable. Every single one of those gun shops had employees with bills to pay, rent or mortgage obligations to meet, and family members relying on them.

Simply put: Why are you destroying an industry and inflicting so much stress and hardship on the most law-abiding sector (licensed firearm owners) in the community?

I urge you to revoke the Closure Of Gun Shops direction with the greatest possible haste.

Yours sincerely,

Graham Park

President, Shooters Union Australia

E: president@shootersunion.com.au | Ph: 0418 700 320

Broadcast Watchdog rules in favour of Shooters Union

One of our missions here at Shooters Union Australia is fighting anti-gun bias in the media (and elsewhere), and we’re delighted to share that we’ve had a significant win on that front – and set a precedent in the process.

You may recall last year, Channel Nine ran a story on the Wedgetail WT-15-01 gun, a semi-automatic firearm based on the AR-15 platform which had been classified as Category H then banned by the police, who said it fell into Category D.

The promo pieces for the Channel Nine story made reference to the gun “looking like a machine-gun, firing like a machine-gun, and killing like a machine gun”.

We took exception to this and made a formal complaint to Channel Nine, who essentially told us to go away– so we took the matter to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

After a very thorough investigation, ACMA have ruled the broadcasts contravened rules relating to accuracy, fairness and impartiality – particularly in regards to comparisons between the WT-15-01 and a machine-gun, which were found to be inaccurate and misleading, along with the suggestion the gun was more freely available than was in fact the case.

Significantly, this is the first time ACMA has found a broadcaster to be in breach for material broadcast as part of promotions for a show, and sends a strong message to media throughout the country that promo and teaser material also needs to abide by the rules too.

ACMA chairperson Nerida O’Loughlin said while the news story itself was accurate and impartial, the promotion was not.

“Although this is the first time we have seen a breach of the current code for a program promotion, broadcasters should be aware the obligations of accuracy and impartiality apply to both the news story and to its promotional content,” she said.

“The concise edited nature of promos means that broadcasters need to be even more diligent in ensuring compliance with the Code.”

“Broadcasters know the rules and we are disappointed that Channel Nine have let this slip through the cracks.”

Channel Nine will raise the investigation findings with staff, with an emphasis on Code provisions and the ACMA’s position on the operation of those provisions. ACMA have accepted this as being appropriate action to avoid future breaches and no further action is being taken.

We at Shooters Union are very pleased with the outcome of the investigation, which Shooters Union Australia president Graham Park said confirmed media outlets can’t just say whatever anti-gun stuff they like and expect it to go unchallenged.

“We don’t expect every media report to be pro-firearm, but in cases where a media outlet has well and truly crossed a line, as in this case, we can and will make formal complaints to the appropriate authorities and hold media outlets accountable for what they publish or broadcast,” he said.

On behalf of all our members and friends, we would like to thank everyone at ACMA for the professional, impartial, fair and thorough way they have handled this matter.

You can read the report for yourself here: https://www.acma.gov.au/publications/2020-03/report/bi-525-investigation-report

Shooters Union expands into South Australia

WE are delighted to announce we have an official presence in South Australia now, with Peter Heggie – proprietor of The Gunnery firearms dealership and shooting range in Adelaide – coming on board as our official South Australian representative.

Peter is passionate about standing up for shooters and making sure they are properly represented and looked after – both as individuals and when coming to The Gunnery.

“We actually care about shooters, we care about it and we want to make sure as shooters as a whole are looked after – and currently they’re not, but that is changing now,” he said.

“I want to achieve fairness for shooters, and to give South Australian shooters an alternative that is transparent and not working behind closed doors.”

His first order of business is to increase the number of SU members in South Australia, giving shooters a louder voice in the state – and encouraging more people to see the benefits and enjoyment shooting offers.
“We’re very proactive with new shooters – want to help them get into shooting,” he said.

“I can’t wait to get started and help make Shooters Union an even stronger positive force for shooters in South Australia.”

Shooters Union Australia president Graham Park welcomed Peter to the organisation, saying he was an ideal person to represent Australia’s leading pro-shooting organisation in the Festival State.

“Peter is passionate, dedicated, knowledgeable and has been part of the South Australian shooting community for many years,” he said.
“He believes in a fair go for shooters and making sure their voices are heard. “We are delighted to have him on board with us and are very excited about some of things in the pipeline.”

Shooters Union Australia now has local representatives ‘on the ground’ in Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia.

Shooters Union South Australia can be reached by e-mail at: sa@shootersunion.com.au