Home - State News - Queensland (page 3)

Queensland

Weapons Licencing Verification System online now

WEAPONS Licensing Branch have launched a helpful new online tool which instantly provides a validity report on a Queensland firearms licence.

You can access the tool here

The online licence verification tool allows a user to enter a firearms licence number and expiry date, and will confirm if it is still valid or has been suspended.

While the new tool does not take the place of sighting a physical licence card, but should still prove useful for licensed gun dealers as well as regular shooters wanting to ensure a licensed friend is still properly authorised before lending them a firearm.

This is a step forward for Queensland and it is good to see WLB continuing to implement 21 st century technology in its firearms reporting systems.

Hunters Voices are too loud to ignore

IGNORE the voices of Queensland shooters and hunters at your peril come election time. That’s the message from Queensland shooting peak body
Shooters Union to the major parties following the closure of a hugely successful petition on the State Government website calling for a trial of hunting in State Forests.

More than 16,000 people signed the petition, which officially closed yesterday, and Shooters Union president Graham Park said it was a message too strong for the state government to ignore.

“This number of signatures this petition received confirms what we’ve been saying for a long time – hunting and the shooting sports have a massive amount of support in Queensland.

“The only e-petitions to receive more signatures in the past five years have related to abortion laws and daylight savings. This clearly shows that making our state forests available to licensed hunters is a massively important issue with a huge level of support – and potential votes, for a government smart enough to adopt it as an official policy.”

Hunters in Queensland can presently only shoot on privately owned land with landowner permission, and the aim of the petition is to open up some or all of the state’s 3m ha of state forests for conservation hunting of feral pests such as pigs, dogs, foxes, rabbits and deer.

Shooters Union has given its full support to the proposal to open State Forests up to conservation hunting, given the numerous economic and biosecurity benefits it offers.

New South Wales allows hunting in its State Forests, with the scheme generating $1.8b for the state in the 2017-18 financial year. Victoria also allows some hunting in its forests, with its programme bringing hundreds of millions of dollars per annum as well.

Much of the money comes from hunters and their families visiting rural areas, shopping at local businesses, and stocking up on things such as food, fuel, camping supplies and ammunition.

“What sort of government wants to leave potentially more than a billion dollars on the table? You’d have to be crazy to walk away from that sort of money,” Mr Park said.

“Given how much of Queensland has been devastated by drought or natural disaster, this is an ideal way to encourage people to visit our regional areas, boost their economies, and deal with their feral pest problems too.

“There are 200,000 licensed shooters in Queensland – not to mention tens of thousands more from interstate – who are going to be watching very closely how the government and major parties respond to this petition.”

Overcoming objections to Public Hunting in Queensland State Forests

AS Queensland’s pre-eminent shooting representative body, Shooters Union is throwing its complete support behind the current petition to trial conservation hunting in state forests. Click here to sign the petition’

We know there is still some uncertainty around why people, especially those who don’t hunt, should support and sign the petition, so we have taken a moment to clarify a few matters around this extremely important proposal, which has wide-ranging benefits not only for shooters but for
all of Queensland.

WON’T THIS PROPOSAL MEAN RANDOM PEOPLE WANDERING AROUND FORESTS WITH A GUN?

State forest hunters will still require a gun licence – a vigorous process administered by the Queensland Police Service involving background checks and criminal history checks – and it is envisioned they will also need to be a member of an accredited shooting organisation such as Shooters Union, the SSAA or the Australian Deer Association.

The NSW “R-licence” system requires hunters to undertake a theory course on ethical hunting and relevant laws, and it is envisioned the Queensland proposal would have similar requirements.

Not every state forest in Queensland would be made available for hunting either – for example, forests which are too close to houses, in active use by leaseholders, or too ecologically sensitive would not be available for hunting.

I DON’T WANT PEOPLE SHOOTING GUNS IN OUR NATIONAL PARKS!

They won’t be. The petition is purely about state forests in Queensland – there is no call to open national parks in the state up for hunting; they will remain exactly as they are now.

I AM A LANDOWNER AND DON’T WANT STRANGERS FROM THE CITY ON MY
PROPERTY SHOOTING THINGS

The petition is purely about opening state forests for hunting by properly licensed and accredited people. It will NOT allow hunters access to private property without permission from the landowner, and landowners will NOT be required to let shooters on their property if they do not want them there – exactly as the situation is now.

Supporting state forest hunting means you are potentially LESS likely to have illegal hunters trespassing on your land, as there will be a legal option for shooters to hunt in state forests instead.

BUT I ALREADY HAVE A PROPERTY TO HUNT ON

Lucky you! Most Queensland shooters do not, however, and do not know a farmer – or cannot regularly make a multi-day trip to the state’s rural areas for hunting trips. Supporting state forest hunting does not take away your ability to hunt on private property with land owner’s permission as you do now – but it means more people will be able to get involved in the shooting sports and experience the natural environment of our state too.

I ONLY SHOOT TARGETS – I DON’T HUNT

We are all shooters and even if you personally don’t hunt, it benefits the shooting sports as a whole to get as many people involved as possible.

Opening state forests up for hunting won’t affect your target shooting competitions, but will make a huge difference for all gun owners across the state – and make it an option for you if you decide to give it a go in the future as well.

I DON’T ACTUALLY WANT TO GO HUNTING

Signing the petition doesn’t obligate you to go hunting or indeed actually do anything beyond signing the petition – you are just saying that you, as a law-abiding shooter in Queensland would like the option to be there for any law-abiding shooter to hunt in state forests.

Remember hunters need the target shooters too – they’re the ones who ensure there are ranges for you to practice your shooting and load development at!

WHAT ABOUT BOW HUNTING?

Yes, bow hunting is included in the petition – it is about making state forests accessible to all hunters who can take game and pests humanely, not just shooters. Bow hunters would, however, need to be members of an accredited bow-hunting organisation and undertake the same
programme course as firearm hunters.

I DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW THE PROGRAMME WOULD WORK

The petition is about enacting a three year trial of conservation hunting – it’s not about debating the specifics. The idea is to get the green light to establish a programme, and at that point a formal programme can be developed with input from qualified and relevant stakeholders. The
data and information obtained from the trial will then enable an informed decision to be made about making state forest hunting a permanent programme in Queensland.

Air Rifles One Solution to Cane Toad Threat

A PROPOSAL by North Queensland MP Bob Katter to make air rifles more readily available and pay a 40c bounty per cane toad shot merits serious discussion, according to a prominent Australian shooting sports organisation.

Shooters Union Australia is calling for low-powered air rifles to be removed from firearm classification and licensing requirements and make them available for purchase by any adult who meets a basic eligibility test.
President Graham Park said Australia was the only first-world country which treats air rifles as actual firearms, and it was time for that to end.

“Even the UK, with its very strict gun laws, allows its citizens to buy low-powered air-guns over the counter and they’re not experiencing a wave of airgun-related shootings,” he said.

Air rifles, regardless of type, are considered Category A firearms – the same as a .22 bolt-action rifle or a double-barrelled shotgun – in all states of Australia and require a purchaser to obtain a firearms licence and Permit to Acquire before buying one, and must be stored in a locked gun
safe.

Depending on the purchaser’s state of residence, the process to buy their first air gun could potentially take up to six months and Mr Park said this was a ludicrous state of affairs, given that low-power air rifles were not a public safety risk and were totally incapable of killing a person.

“Air rifles are a great way to introduce youth to shooting – and it’s an outside activity, giving parents and kids a chance to do something together in their own back yard or at the range,” he said.

“Lots of us grew up knocking over soft drink cans in our back yard, or taking out pests like cane toads and mynah birds with a single-shot air-rifle.”

Cane Toads are a hugely invasive pest throughout parts of Australia, particularly Queensland, and Mr Park said a small bounty per cane toad would encourage people to keep their yards and properties clear of the biosecurity threat – and a cheap, over-the-counter air rifle would be not
only be a humane way to do it, it might open to door for the next generation of international- level competition shooters.

“Someone who gets a start as a youth with an air rifle today could end up being an Olympic shooting champion of tomorrow,” he said.

State Forest Hunting Petition Support

ANYONE who has spent any time outside the city knows feral animals are a huge problem in Queensland.

Rabbits, hares, foxes, wild dogs, kangaroos, deer and feral pigs – they are all at plague proportions and a constant threat to our farmer’s livelihoods, eating feed needed by cows, nibbling away on vegetables meant for your dinner table, digging up fences and generally causing havoc.

Queensland environmental scientist Daniel Boniface is hoping to change that via a petition on the state government website calling for a three year trial of hunting in Queensland’s state forests.

You can sign the petition here.

The petition only applies to state forests – there is no call to open national parks for hunting – and its purpose is to establish a three year trial to prove viability and gain data to enable a properly informed discussion about implementing the scheme permanently.

Unlike New South Wales and Victoria, which have successful state forest hunting schemes in place, Queensland currently refuses to allow this and is subsequently missing out on literally millions of dollars in potential economic benefits – not just from hunting licence fees, but from
the flow-on effects to rural communities from tourism, accommodation, fuel sales, food purchases and the like.

The Economic Impact of Recreational Hunting in New South Wales report commissioned by the NSW Department of Primary Industries in 2017 stated that hunting in the state’s forests had generated $119 million in gross revenue for the 2016-17 financial year.

A 2014 report from Victoria – Estimating the economic impact of hunting in Victoria in 2013 – stated the activity was worth an estimated $439 million to the state.

Shooters Union wholeheartedly supports this petition and we urge our members, supporters and friends to sign it if they have not already done so – the benefits of the proposal are countless and would make a huge difference to shooters, landowners and nature-lovers across the state.
There are an estimated 200,000 licensed shooters in Queensland, a huge number of whom would dearly love the opportunity to keep these pests under control – except they’re not allowed into the state forests where these animals breed.

Landowners across Queensland have been telling us this is a huge problem – even if they shoot the pests on their land, they are still breeding in state forests where hunters cannot reach them due to the existing laws.

City-based shooters are crying out for somewhere to hunt and not everyone has the luxury of owning a suitable property or having a friend or family member with access to one.

In addition to helping keep feral pests under control and give our struggling farmers and rural communities a much needed hand, it will allow an entire generation of shooters to experience and enjoy hunting in Queensland’s great outdoors. Better access to hunting areas means more licensed shooters which means a stronger voice when we speak in support of our sport – the benefits are countless and the downsides are non-existent.

Support your sport and protect our natural environment – sign the petition and support hunting in Queensland’s state forests!

Article written by Royce Wilson on behalf of Shooters Union Australia.

An open letter to Mark Ryan, Police Minister

Dear Minister,


On behalf of the more than 200,000 law abiding firearms owners in Queensland, Shooters Union Queensland has written this open letter to you to highlight the concerns of the firearms community that a recent statement by you in Parliament was both incorrect and misleading.

 

We are posting this letter on our website and social media sites as we appreciate how closely you monitor our website and Facebook page. All too often we see you refer to either our posts or videos, so thank you for taking the time follow our good work.

During Parliamentary Question Time on the 23rd August 2018 you said:

When it comes to gun laws here in Queensland one thing is for sure: our government has a strong commitment to never, ever weakening gun laws. We will never water down gun laws in Queensland. Where do those opposite stand? They stand for cutting red tape for firearms users and watering down gun laws. I say that you can never be tough on crime if you are soft on guns, and those opposite are soft on guns.”?

 

Our concern here is your conflation of the ideas of the ‘watering down of gun laws’ and the ‘cutting of red tape’ As law abiding gun owners we fully support all and any attempts to ensure that guns are kept from criminals and that those misusing guns are punished. However, not only is it simply wrong to equate the cutting of red tape with the watering down of gun laws, but in fact the cutting of red tape is a necessary step in ensuing that our gun laws work effectively to protect society.

 

Cutting red tape by reducing bureaucracy does not soften your position on the NFA or current Queensland firearms laws. By definition,red tape’ refers to excessive regulation or rigid conformity to formal rules that are considered redundant or bureaucratic and which hinders the achievement of the regulatory goals.

 

Contrary to your comments, the ‘cutting of red tape’ – redundant bureaucratic processes – may in fact assist in making our firearms laws more effective. First, by removing excessive regulation and bureaucratic processes, you are able to free up scarce policing resources to bolster front line policing and the prevention and detection of criminal behaviour. This is surely a more effective use of police resources than the form filling and paper shuffling that characterises our current firearm’s regime. Secondly, by cutting away the distraction of redundant bureaucratic processes, we can focus more clearly on the real concerns of the criminal importation and use of guns. The central regulatory goal of any gun laws must be to ensure that firearms are not used to harm others or to perpetrate crime. It is difficult, if not impossible, to see how that goal is furthered by heaping more and more red tape on licensed firearms users – requiring more of licensed firearms users does not stop criminals!


The second part of your comment is equally baffling. You suggest that reducing red tape in relation to licensed firearms and law abiding firearms owners means you are going soft on crime. But there is surely no connection whatsoever. If Queensland criminals were willing to obtain firearms licences and to use only regeared firearms in their criminal ventures, then one might see a connection. But, alas, criminals will be criminals and no matter how tough our gun laws are, they have no bearing whatsoever on the criminal use of guns.  Shooters Union has advocated strongly for tougher laws that do in fact address the criminal use of guns – it is embarrassing for Queensland that the penalty for the theft of a television is the same as for the theft of a firearm. If your Government really wanted to get tough on crime it would address this anomaly.

 

Some may be tempted to suggest that the piling of red tape and restrictions on licensed firearms owners is a way to stop guns getting into the hands of criminals, who steal firearmsform licensed and law abiding owners. As you noted in February this year, the theft of guns in Queensland has decreased significantly in recent years. Moreover, data produced by the Federal government’s Australian Institute of Criminology has shown conclusively that the major source of guns used by criminals is not licensed firearms owners. Increasing regulation of licensed firearms owners will not stop criminals getting guns, and cutting red tape will not make it easier for criminals to get guns.


The use by criminals of guns is a blight on our society and the firearms community strongly support all and any efforts to address this problem. However, we feel that your comments misunderstand the real nature of the problem and that by focusing on more red tape you may, inadvertently, be making life easier for criminals.

 

 

LNP finally goes over the edge. Gel blasters today, NERF tomorrow?

Letter from Shooters Union President, Graham Park

In the midst of a terrible drought across Queensland affecting their core support base as well as the massive social and business issues facing every Queenslander, Liberal National Party Queensland leader Deb Frecklington found a REALLY big issue for the state. She wants to BAN toy guns, yes you got it right, the Queensland Opposition leader has actually called for a ban on some “gell blaster” toy guns because they “look very real”. I nearly fell off my couch when I saw this on TV. Click here.

Over the past 20 years I have seen the LNP do some strange things, first they brought in the NFA we now live with, then they have repeatedly supported Labor (recently with lever action shotguns) and now they want to worry about banning toys that “look real”. I think it’s concerning that the Queensland LNP do not seem to think that there are much bigger problems to fix in our state. I also think it’s important to note that in Queensland it is already an offence to cause fear or alarm by being armed in public, and that applies to any item (including toys).

So if someone was out and brought a toy and waved it around they run two key risks:

  1. Being arrested and charged
  2. Being shot by police if they point it at them.

Any of us can walk into a toy shop and buy a toy gun and it take three minutes to slap some black paint on it and nearly any of them will look pretty “real”.

I can only imagine that Dangerous Deb and the LNP will soon be protesting outside any and every toy store across the state for immediate action. Perhaps a “buy back” of kiddies toys is overdue?

When a supposedly conservative party like the LNP goes this far off the rails, it is time for a couple of things to happen:

  1. Look for alternatives to vote for among the minor parties OR
  2. For those who are LNP supporters or party members already, get involved and REFORM your party before these people destroy it altogether. Write to your local member and see if they are willing to follow this useless tangent. Go to a party meeting and complain to head office – do anything in your power to be heard. These politicians work for us and are employed by us. We sign their pay checks, so if we don’t like their work then it’s up to us to make sure they know it.

I am fully aware this is a tempest in a teacup and whether or not they ban toys is not our core mission, but when we see supposedly sensible politicians and parties behave this stupidly you begin to understand why so many Queenslanders and others around the country have had enough and are placing their votes elsewhere. The federal LNP is already in a tough bind with the recent leadership spill, so their state branches can’t afford to lose supporters.

Note if you do wish to contact the LNP leader or deputy leader directly their emails are below:

  • Deb Frecklington – https://www.debfrecklington.com.au/ Phone: 07 4190 7100 Email: nanango@parliament.qld.gov.au
  • Tim Mander – https://timmander.com.au/ Phone: 07 3535 1100 Email: everton@parliament.qld.gov.au

Our Farmers Need You!

We are recruiting volunteers to form flying squads to operate in the St George Dirrinbandi Thallon Nindygully Bollon areas for eight/nine weeks from the 24th of September.

We are asking that you volunteer one or two weeks of your time during the period 24th September to the end of November.

These times will be rostered so we can have a full compliment on each Flying Squad at all times.

We have planned to have 3 squads on the ground with a compliment of 12-15 personnel.

We would like to recruit the following for each squad.

  1. Doctor in General Practice
  2. Chiropractor
  3. Masseuse
  4. Physio
  5. Nurse
  6. Solicitor
  7. Accountant/Consultant
  8. Cook
  9. Carpenter
  10. Electrician
  11. Plumber
  12. Painter
  13. General Dogs Body
  14. General Dogs Body
  15. General Dogs Body
  16. General Dogs Body

This drought relief operation is aimed at those people who fall through the net of the general drought aid and in particular the personal hygiene and wellbeing of our FARMERS.

Are you interested?

Experience our drought first hand. For more information contact 07 5466 5840 or 0491336694
Email: johnpfei.rural@spin.net.au

Another CAT H win in QLD. WLB overturned once again

Shooters Union notes in Section 7 that in an occupational setting it can be argued that personal protection may be a genuine reason for a weapon of this type.

See highlight below.

https://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/qld/QCAT/2018/225.html

“This is of some significance given that the Respondent contended that personal protection cannot, in point of law, constitute an occupational requirement pursuant to s 11 of the Act (and relied upon the decisions of Osborne v Commissioner of Police, New South Wales Police Service (Osborne)[6] and Bergmann v Commissioner of Police (Bergmann)[7]. In light of the Applicant’s stated position, it is unnecessary to decide this point. Nevertheless, I consider it arguable that, if it is a genuine requirement of an applicant’s occupation that he or she have use of a weapon for personal protection, s 11(c) may be satisfied. First, each of Osborne and Bergmann were based on the weapons legislation in the respective states of New South Wales and Western Australia which expressly provided that an applicant does not have a genuine reason for possessing or using a firearm if the applicant intends to possess or use the firearm for, amongst other things, “personal protection”. No corresponding provision appears in the Act.
Secondly, in my view, it is at least arguable that personal protection as part of occupational health and safety is not mutually exclusive with possession of a weapon being an occupational requirement (including an occupational requirement for rural purposes). However, a decision on this issue should await a subsequent case where the issue is squarely raised for determination.”

Lever v Queensland Police Service (Weapons Licensing Branch) [2018] QCAT 225 (10 July 2018)

Last Updated: 26 July 2018

QUEENSLAND CIVIL AND 

ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL

 

CITATION:
Lever v Queensland Police Service (Weapons Licensing Branch) [2018] QCAT 225
PARTIES:

JOHN CAMPBELL LEVER

(applicant)

v
QUEENSLAND POLICE SERVICE (WEAPONS LICENSING BRANCH)
(respondent)
APPLICATION NO/S:
GAR327-17
MATTER TYPE:
General administrative review matters
DELIVERED ON:
10 July 2018
HEARING DATE:
29 June 2018
HEARD AT:
Brisbane
DECISION OF:
Member Lumb
ORDERS:
      1. The Respondent’s decision to reject the Applicant’s application under the Weapons Act 1990 (Qld) to renew his Concealable Firearms Licence is set aside.
      2. The Applicant’s application to renew his Concealable Firearms Licence is approved.
      3. The Applicant’s Concealable Firearms Licence is renewed by cancelling the existing licence and issuing a fresh Concealable Firearms Licence endorsed with the following conditions:

        (a) the licence is limited to a .357 calibre Smith and Wesson revolver and a .357 calibre Sturm Ruger revolver;

(b) the licence authorises the licensee to possess and use the licensed registered weapons for the control or destruction of crocodiles in the course of the licensee’s business activities or occupation involving crocodile egg harvesting, crocodile capture or handling, training of others in the handling of crocodiles or crocodile egg harvesting and the protection of visitors or invitees at the Koorana Crocodile Farm in Central Queensland;

(c) the weapons the subject of the licence are to remain in secure storage at all times save when being possessed or used in accordance with the licence, unless otherwise authorised, justified or excused by law.

CATCHWORDS:

FIRE, EXPLOSIVES AND FIREARMS – FIREARMS – LICENSING AND REGISTRATION – LICENCE OR PERMIT – RENEWAL AND OTHER MATTERS – review of decision to reject application to renew concealable firearms licence under Weapons Act 1990 (Qld) – whether occupational requirement for possession of a handgun

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld), s 9, s 20, s 24

Weapons Act 1990 (Qld), s 10, s 11, s 18, s 142

Bergmann v Commissioner of Police (Bergmann[2009] WASAT 233

Cseke v Queensland Police Service (Weapons Licensing Branch) & Anor [2005] QCA 466

Factory Direct Pools Pty Ltd v Queensland Building Services Authority [2013] QCAT 34

Osborne v Commissioner of Police, New South Wales Police Service [2000] NSWADTAP 10

Shaxson v Queensland Police Service, Weapons Licensing Branch [2014] QCAT 309

APPEARANCES & REPRESENTATION:
Applicant:
Self-represented
Respondent:
Senior Constable Paz Landim

REASONS FOR DECISION

  1. The Applicant has applied[1] to review a decision of the Respondent made on 3 October 2017 (the Decision) rejecting the Applicant’s application to renew a Concealable Firearms Licence dated 17 April 2017 and lodged on 5 July 2017 (the Firearms Application). The Applicant had been the holder of a Concealable Firearms Licence under the Weapons Act 1990 (Qld) (the Act) between 17 February 1992 and 2 October 2017.[2]

[2] The Firearms Application related to two weapons being a Sturm Ruger .357 calibre handgun (revolver action) and a .357 calibre Smith and Wesson handgun (revolver action). The stated “Genuine Reason” for the licence was “Occupational Use”.
The basis for reviewing the Decision
[3] The Decision is a “reviewable decision” pursuant to s 142(1)(aa) of the Act being a decision refusing to renew a licence under the Act.

[4] The Tribunal has jurisdiction to review the Decision by virtue of s 142(2) of the Act and s 9(1) and s 9(2)(b) of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal Act 2009 (Qld) (the QCAT Act).

  1. The legal framework for the conduct of a review by the Tribunal in its review jurisdiction has been succinctly summarised by Member Howard[3] in Factory Direct Pools Pty Ltd v Queensland Building Services Authority:[4]The purpose of a review conducted by the tribunal in its review jurisdiction is to produce the correct and preferable decision following a fresh hearing on the merits. The Tribunal must make its decision according to the applicable law, and based on the evidence presented to it. In effect, the Tribunal stands in the shoes of the original decision-maker, in this case the QBSA, and makes the decision anew. The relevant facts must be established to the reasonable satisfaction of the Tribunal. (footnotes omitted)

The Respondent’s position

  1. The Respondent did not contest that the requirements of s 10 of the Act had been satisfied by the Applicant other than the requirement set out in s 10(2)(f). The Respondent contended that the Applicant did not have a reason mentioned in s 11 of the Act to possess a concealable firearm namely, a .357 calibre handgun. The Respondent accepted that the Applicant was a fit and proper person to hold a licence under the Act. I find this to be the case not only on the basis of the Respondent’s concession but also having regard to the Applicant’s employment history, “Community Contributions” and his “Firearm Familiarity” as set out in the Applicant’s statement dated 14 March 2018.[5]

[7] Section 11 of the Act sets out the specified reasons for possession of a weapon. The particular reason relied upon by the Applicant was that contained in s 11(c) namely “an occupational requirement, including an occupational requirement for rural purposes”.

[8] As I understood the Respondent’s case, it was not disputed that the Applicant had an occupational requirement for possession of a weapon but that such requirement would be satisfied by possession of a rifle rather than a handgun.
The occupational requirement for possession of a firearm
[9] The Applicant and his wife operate the Koorana Crocodile Farm (the Crocodile Farm) in Central Queensland. The Crocodile Farm was established in 1981 and there are over 5,000 crocodiles on the farm today.

[10] The basis upon which the Applicant sought to establish that a handgun is required as an occupational requirement was the protection of other persons in relatively close proximity to crocodiles in the following circumstances:

(a) the training of persons in crocodile handling training courses which have been conducted at the Crocodile Farm for over two decades. The course takes place at the farm over a five day period and involves the capture and handling technique of eggs, hatchlings, growers, sub-adult and adult crocodiles. By the end of a five day course, the trainees are required to catch a large crocodile with the help of two assistants and most of the adult crocodiles chosen for capture are females defending their nests;
(b) the protection of tourists to the Crocodile Farm. Approximately 30,000 tourists visit the Crocodile Farm each year which is open every day except Christmas Day;
(c) the protection of University researchers from Latrobe University, University of Queensland and University of Central Queensland for research purposes including artificial insemination of crocodiles;
(d) egg harvesting. The Applicant and his staff collect eggs from 50 nests during a three month period. The nests are protected by the female crocodile and there is a prospect that the male crocodile may come to protect the female crocodile;
(e) the handling of crocodiles other than in a training course.

  1. The Applicant expressly disavowed any reliance on his own personal protection as founding an occupational requirement to possess a handgun. This is of some significance given that the Respondent contended that personal protection cannot, in point of law, constitute an occupational requirement pursuant to s 11 of the Act (and relied upon the decisions of Osborne v Commissioner of Police, New South Wales Police Service (Osborne)[6] and Bergmann v Commissioner of Police (Bergmann)[7]. In light of the Applicant’s stated position, it is unnecessary to decide this point. Nevertheless, I consider it arguable that, if it is a genuine requirement of an applicant’s occupation that he or she have use of a weapon for personal protection, s 11(c) may be satisfied. First, each of Osborne and Bergmann were based on the weapons legislation in the respective states of New South Wales and Western Australia which expressly provided that an applicant does not have a genuine reason for possessing or using a firearm if the applicant intends to possess or use the firearm for, amongst other things, “personal protection”. No corresponding provision appears in the Act. Secondly, in my view, it is at least arguable that personal protection as part of occupational health and safety is not mutually exclusive with possession of a weapon being an occupational requirement (including an occupational requirement for rural purposes). However, a decision on this issue should await a subsequent case where the issue is squarely raised for determination.
  2. Pursuant to s 11(c) of the Act, an applicant must establish that it is a genuine requirement of the applicant’s occupation that he or she have and be able to use a weapon of the type sought to be licensed (in this case, a .357 calibre handgun being a concealable firearm).[8] The occupational requirement must be an existing one not a potential one (being one fact upon which the applicant’s case in Cseke foundered).[9]
  3. Under s 13(5) of the Act, in an application for a licence which relies upon an occupational requirement, the applicant must state why possession of a weapon is necessary in the conduct of the applicant’s business or employment. The meaning of the word “necessary” in this context was considered by the Member Howard in Shaxson v Queensland Police Service, Weapons Licensing Branch.[10] Member Howard made the following observations which, in my respectful view, reflect the correct meaning of “necessary” in this context:The word, ‘necessary’ as used in s 13(5), is not defined. Its meaning must properly be interpreted in the context of not only the provision in which it sits, but the Weapons Act and its purpose. ‘Necessary,’ according to common usage, connotes something which is required, rather than something which is merely convenient or a matter of preference. In the context, it reasonably connotes that the requirement can not be met in some other way, and can not currently be appropriately met. (footnote omitted)

[14] As noted above, the Respondent did not contest that the Applicant was engaged in dangerous occupational activities involving crocodiles or that use of a rifle could be considered to be an occupational requirement in the course of those activities. The thrust of the Respondent’s case was that such a requirement could be met by the use of a rifle rather than a handgun. In my view, having regard to the evidence which will be discussed below, the Applicant’s activities do provide a reason for possession of a firearm as an occupational requirement. The critical issue is whether the occupational requirement is satisfied by use of a rifle rather than a handgun.

[15] The Respondent raised two matters in support of the opposition to the application:

(a) the use of a .357 calibre handgun is insufficient or inadequate to kill a crocodile in circumstances in which protection of persons in company with the Applicant requires the crocodile to be killed;
(b) in any event, even if it were “impractical” to use a rifle in such circumstances it was not “impossible” and the occupational requirement to possess a weapon could be met by use of a rifle.
Sufficiency of a .357 calibre handgun

  1. The Respondent relied upon the decision in Bergmann to contend that a .357 calibre revolver was not suited for killing a crocodile. In that case, it was found that the handgun was not so suited and that a .308 rifle was a minimum calibre required for the killing of a crocodile.[11] However, that was a factual finding based upon the evidence before the Tribunal. In the present case, it is a factual question to be decided having regard to the evidence before this Tribunal.

[17] The Respondent did not call any evidence in relation in relation to this issue.

[18] The Applicant gave evidence that he had killed a crocodile with a .357 Sturm Ruger handgun on two occasions. In each case, the crocodile was put down as it was ailing rather than in an attack scenario.

  1. The Applicant also relied upon a statement of Matthew Kelman of Carmor Plains Station dated 14 March 2018.[12] Two unsuccessful attempts were made at the hearing to contact Mr Kelman by telephone to permit cross-examination of him by the Respondent. In those circumstances, the Respondent indicated that the statement could be admitted without cross-examination. In his statement, Mr Kelman stated, relevantly:

My work and experiences with long and short arms on my station, Carmor Plains and throughout Arnhemland in the Northern Territory has been extensive. I have been heavily involved in hunting safaris for 27 years and crocodile harvesting and egg collecting for 17 years. Whilst a long arm is used a lot in the safari industry with big bovines like wild cattle and buffalo, the most practical and safe firearm when working or handling crocs is a handgun … this is not my opinion, it is a fact.

I cannot imagine using a long arm in any safe or professional manner when relocating or harvesting crocodiles. Same applies to collecting croc eggs from a nest defended by one or both parent crocodiles. You need 2 hands to safely hold and use a long arm. You also need 2 hands to do this type of difficult work. And where might the long arm be when you need it? Probably left on the ground, or in the mud, (or in the water … not ideal!) or in the bottom of the boat. So when (not if) a dangerous situation arises, where is your firearm …well out of arms reach, god know where exactly … especially if working at night.

Without exception the only firearm I use for safety when working around crocodiles in the NT, is a handgun, revolver or pistol, preferably in a stopping calibre of over .38 calibre. The handgun is safely stored in a holster on your hip, ready for use if required.

Following calibres are adequate in my opinion. 357 magnum, 38 super, 40SW, 44 mag, 45 colt or bigger. A 9mm is too light of a calibre for stopping a large male crocodile with intent.

… (underlining added)

[20] In my view, Mr Kelman’s evidence that a .357 magnum is adequate to stop a large male crocodile corroborates the Applicant’s evidence that he used a .357 calibre handgun to kill a crocodile on two occasions. In the absence of any contrary evidence, I find that a .357 calibre handgun is sufficient to kill a crocodile if required.

[21] The remaining issue is whether it is an occupational requirement of the Applicant that he possess and use a .357 calibre handgun.
Rifle versus handgun
[22] In his statement, the Applicant stated, amongst other things:
It has been suggested that I could use a rifle instead of a handgun however there are several reasons why a rifle was not selected as the weapon of choice.

  • Rifles projectile will go for a long distance and a handgun a lot less
  • Location for use is Koorana Crocodile Farm, a lowset island of 113Ha only
  • The island is surrounded by tidal creeks frequented by recreational fishermen/families
  • Handgun will only be used when imminent and immediate death and/or serious injury is likely
  • Any need to use the firearm will be at close quarters only
  • Rifle will occupy both hands leaving no alternative action possible.

There is an increasing emphasis placed on duty of care to those you employ, the people you train and the general public.

I see police and security guards wearing side arms and not carrying rifles and would argue that the same factors apply – a rifle is an inappropriate firearm to carry around in public, it restricts the operator to a 2 handed operation leaving no other physical alternative other than to point and shoot.

The handgun however permits alternative use with the free hand.[23] In cross-examination, the Applicant said that it was now his current practice to carry the handgun on his hip (in a holster) although when in a 12 foot boat (a “Tinny”) his practice was to keep the handgun in a bucket at the front of the boat (which would avoid issues such as harpoon lines being caught on it). The Applicant said that having a rifle in a boat was not practical as there was no space in the boat for a long arm rifle and it could get caught up in lines when the crocodile thrashes around.

  1. The Applicant also relied upon a statement by Professor Grahame Webb dated 18 May 2018.[13] Professor Webb stated, among other things:

I was approached by [the Applicant] to explain independently, and from my personal experience, the reasons why a handgun is essential for meeting OH&S obligations to himself and staff, when working with Saltwater Crocodiles, in both farm and wild contexts. I fully support [the Applicant]’s application to retain his license for a .375 revolver. I do this from the view point of having worked with Saltwater Crocodiles for 45 years, in both captive and wild contexts, and of being Chairman of the IUCN-SSC Crocodile Specialist Group, with 612 members in 64 countries, who all work with crocodiles.

Saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) are the largest and arguably the most dangerous crocodile in the world. Within Australia large males can exceed 5+ m long and 750 kg, and research has shown that attacks on people by crocodiles 4+ m long are almost always fatal. Survivors from attacks of large crocodiles, often due to the actions of other people, have consistently indicated that had they had a handgun present they could have used it to dispatch the crocodile that had caught them.

Despite procedures developed over the years for minimizing risk, by people such as [the Applicant], the fact remains that crocodiles can shift from completely immobile to 100% activity instantly, because they rely on anaerobic metabolism. Hence, people working with crocs need to always be prepared for a situation to shift from no danger, to absolute danger with injury and potential death, within a second. Having a rifle of shotgun available is totally impractical with the need to use both hands when manipulating ropes, ties and other procedures.

During egg collection, a percentage of adult females defend their nest and can do so with rapid charges from the water. In wild situations nests are surrounded by tall reeds, are often on floating rafts of vegetation, and once again a rifle is simply impractical to use. We have all tried it and it just does not work. Having the rifle in the hands of nearby people inexperienced with crocodiles is equally dangerous, because in the explosive activity that takes place, inexperienced people are just as likely to shoot the person rather than the crocodile (as has happened).

[The Applicant] has many years experience with handling crocodiles, and capturing rogue crocodiles, and is often in situations where he has a duty of care to staff, visiting researchers and students. Some of his research (eg artificial insemination) requires the capture and restraint of large male crocodiles (4m+) regularly during the mating season.
[25] In cross-examination of Professor Webb (by telephone) by the Respondent, it was suggested that an additional person may be employed to hold the rifle. Professor Webb said that such a proposal was “completely impracticable”. He suggested this could not work if descending from a helicopter or in a group situation where there was no room to manoeuvre a rifle. He maintained that the use of a revolver was needed in a case of emergency. I accept Professor Webb’s evidence, particularly in the absence of any evidence to suggest that use of a rifle would be a practical alternative to a handgun.

[26] I also refer to the evidence of Mr Kelman set out in paragraph [19] above and, in particular, the need to use two hands in dealing with crocodiles and the need to use two hands to fire a long arm weapon.

[27] The Applicant was also asked in cross-examination whether a fold-down rifle would work as an alternative to a handgun. The Applicant said that it was not practical. The Respondent did not lead evidence in relation to this issue (for example, what fold-down guns were available, how they could be folded down, how quickly they could be set up and how practical they would be in confined spaces). I cannot be satisfied that a fold-down rifle is a suitable alternative to a handgun in the context of the activities undertaken by the Applicant.

[28] Having regard to the above evidence, I am satisfied that it is a genuine existing requirement of the Applicant’s occupation that he have and be able to use a .357 calibre handgun in the course of his occupational activities and that use of a handgun rather than a rifle is not merely a matter of convenience or preference but is a matter of necessity. The requirement is one of protection of persons comprising members of the general public and also trainees and researchers in the circumstances identified in paragraph [10] above. Saltwater crocodiles are highly dangerous animals, protective of their eggs and able to shift from a resting state to an attack state within a second. The activities identified by the Applicant are sometimes carried out at night and sometimes on boats in a confined space with the use of harpoons and ropes and other apparatus. I find that both hands are often needed carrying out such activities and that it is infeasible to do so and have ready access to a rifle in the event of a sudden attack by a crocodile. I also find that the use of a rifle carries with it greater risk of accidental injury over and above a handgun in group situations and confined spaces. In short, in the course of the Applicant’s occupational activities, a rifle is not an appropriate, suitable or adequate alternative to a handgun, specifically a .357 calibre handgun.

[29] I consider the correct and preferable decision to be that the Respondent’s decision to reject the Applicant’s application to renew his Concealable Firearms Licence under the Weapons Act 1990 (Qld) should be set aside and that the Applicant’s application for a renewal of a Concealable Firearms Licence should be approved. I also consider that, pursuant to s 18(8) of the Act, the licence should be renewed by the cancellation of the previous licence and the issue of a fresh Concealable Firearms Licence to the Applicant. In the circumstances of this case, I consider it appropriate that the fresh licence should be endorsed with the following conditions:

(a) the licence is limited to a .357 calibre Smith and Wesson revolver and a .357 calibre Sturm Ruger revolver;
(b) the licence authorises the licensee (the Applicant) to possess and use the licensed registered weapons for the control or destruction of crocodiles in the course of the licensee’s business activities or occupation involving crocodile egg harvesting, crocodile capture or handling, training of others in the handling of crocodiles or crocodile egg harvesting and the protection of visitors or invitees at the Koorana Crocodile Farm in Central Queensland;
(c) the weapons, the subject of the licence, are to remain in secure storage at all times save when being possessed or used in accordance with the licence, unless otherwise authorised, justified or excused by law.
The Orders
[30] In accordance with the above reasons, I make the following formal orders:
(a) The Respondent’s decision to reject the Applicant’s application under the Weapons Act  1990 (Qld) to renew his Concealable Firearms Licence is set aside.

(b) The Applicant’s application to renew his Concealable Firearms Licence is approved.

(c) The Applicant’s Concealable Firearms Licence is renewed by cancelling the existing licence and issuing a fresh Concealable Firearms Licence endorsed with the following conditions:
(i) the licence is limited to a .357 calibre Smith and Wesson revolver and a .357 calibre Sturm Ruger revolver;
(ii) the licence authorises the licensee to possess and use the licensed registered weapons for the control or destruction of crocodiles in the course of the licensee’s business activities or occupation involving crocodile egg harvesting, crocodile capture or handling, training of others in the handling of crocodiles or crocodile egg harvesting and the protection of visitors or invitees at the Koorana Crocodile Farm in Central Queensland;
(iii) the weapons the subject of the licence are to remain in secure storage at all times save when being possessed or used in accordance with the licence, unless otherwise authorised, justified or excused by law.

[31] As to the question of costs, given that the Applicant was self-represented; that he was not required to arrange for witnesses to give evidence in person; that the Applicant was afforded natural justice by the Respondent in relation to the decision; and that the Respondent genuinely attempted to enable the Tribunal to make a decision on the merits, I consider it is appropriate that, consistently with s 100 of the QCAT Act, each party to the proceeding must bear the party’s own costs of the proceeding.


  1. [1] The Application to review was filed on 1 November 2017.
  2. [2] Certificate under s 163 of the Act signed on 3 January 2018 under the hand of Acting Sergeant C C Moore.
  3. [3] Now Senior Member.
  4. [4] [2013] QCAT 34, [7].
  5. [5] Exhibit 3.
  6. [6] [2000] NSWADTAP 10.
  7. [7] [2009] WASAT 233.
  8. [8] Cseke v Queensland Police Service (Weapons Licensing Branch) & Anor (“Cseke”) [2005] QCA 466, [12], [25] (Chesterman J, with McPherson JA and Mackenzie J agreeing).
  9. [9] Cseke, [25].
  10. [10] [2014] QCAT 309, [21].
  11. [11] At [40].
  12. [12] Exhibit 4.
  13. [13] Exhibit 1.

Firearm regulations around mental health challenging practitioners in rural areas

SHOOTERS UNION RESPONSE: Shooters Union agrees with Federal Member David Littleproud and others quoted in this excellent Queensland Country Life Article, in that losing a weapons licence should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and not with wide reaching, one-size fits all, cookie-cutter approaches which may well discourage the people who need it the most, from seeking help.

A regulation that requires people wishing to receive psychological counselling to relinquish their weapons licence and firearms is proving to be a harmful barrier to rural people seeking help, according to agencies working in western Queensland.

The concern was raised with federal ministers, Matt Canavan and David Littleproud, at a public forum in Longreach recently.

Peter Whip, the chairman of Outback Futures, a not-for-profit organisation providing professional and consistent allied health services to rural and remote Queenslanders, described it as a serious deterrent.

“Most mental health funding is linked to having a mental health plan,” he said.

“If you’re a grazier that means you’ve got to give up your guns, and life insurances are affected.

“We know blokes particularly – it’s hard to get them to see a doctor even if their leg’s hanging off – for mental health it’s a real struggle to get people to see professionals. Having funding that’s linked to the necessity to have a mental health plan is a real disincentive to people seeking help.”

As well as the obstacle the requirement was placing on people requiring treatment, Mr Whip was concerned that it was affecting usage statistics and giving governments a false picture of the need, which could impact future funding decisions.

“Outback Futures doesn’t have that requirement – we’re all funded by private donors – so when we go to say, Blackall, we had 90 people come to us.

“You go and talk to whoever has got that mental health plan restriction, they might see two or three.

“The government is getting this data and going, we don’t really need that, there’s only two or three people accessing the service, there mustn’t be a real problem.

“They put in millions to run these services but have set it up in such a way that no-one really accesses it.”

Mr Whip’s comments were confirmed by mental health clinician, Tim Driscoll, who is with the RFDS Drought Wellbeing Service at Longreach.

“I’ve only been in the central west since February but it’s certainly an issue that’s been brought up, by both clinicians and the public,” he said.

”We’ve seen a reduction in the service utilisation in Longreach, quite clearly, as a result of extra restrictions on accessing.

“The more steps between needing support and getting support – any barrier is potentially damaging.”

Mr Driscoll emphasised that he wasn’t advocating for removing the need to see a GP from the program.

He said there was sound reasoning behind having a GP at the centre of writing a mental health plan, saying “that’s not a bad model to have”.

Mr Whip asked if there was anything the Northern Resources and Agriculture Ministers could do to alleviate that barrier.

Mr Canavan responded that he hadn’t heard that specific problem but gave a commitment to follow it up and “come back to you on exactly what those plans require and whether they can be more flexible”.

He was not as accommodating of Mr Whip’s request to change from a short term funding approach to mental health services in rural Australia.

Mr Whip told the forum the many mental health groups accumulated after extended years of drought suffered from only being able to keep professionals on the ground for six months at a time because program funding cut out.

Mr Canavan said the funding, particularly for rural financial counsellors, was temporary because everyone hoped the drought would not be permanent.

“We ended up with a drought that went a lot longer than we all thought so the funding has had to be renewed at different times,” he said. “I don’t know if we can work around that completely.”

Agriculture Minister, David Littleproud, described it as a cookie cutter approach that he said wasn’t working.

“We get it wrong.

“Matt and I have got to stand up to the Health Minister and say, you can’t have a cookie cutter approach because if we lose the human capital, we lose the resource and we lose the trust that you people have built up.”

Article written by Sally Cripps for Queensland Country Life. Link to original article: https://www.queenslandcountrylife.com.au/story/5437256/is-red-tape-stopping-people-from-seeking-help