Home - General - Robbie Katter, Shane Knuth & Shooters Union discuss all things Firearms

Robbie Katter, Shane Knuth & Shooters Union discuss all things Firearms

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

Graham:

Graham Park here from Shooters’ Union in Queensland, and I have the honour tonight to be here with MLA Rob Katter from Katter Australia Party in Queensland. Rob is one of two members of parliament that KAP has here in Queensland. Do a fantastic job for the regional areas they represent. A lot of people probably haven’t heard a lot of from you guys in the shooting community, and we wanted to be able to get out and hear what you guys have got and what your thoughts are about firearms and things.

Before we get into questions—we have a lot of questions coming through. We’ve had some already from our members and we’ve got lots more coming through now I see over there on the laptop—I’d like to just cover a couple of things. One is a lot of shooters just don’t realize the KAP in the past couple of years has essentially been responsible for nearly all the consultation that the current state labour government has undertaken with the shooting community. We’re pretty unhappy with the level of consultation we’ve had with them, but I’ve got to say the only reason we’ve had any consultation with them has been because of you and Shane in KAP. We really appreciate that. I think every firearms owner in the state should appreciate how much work you’ve done to arrange those meetings. You’ve literally arranged pretty much every meeting.

As Shooters’ Union, we sat in the Premier’s office with you in November, 2015 where the current state government agreed to say no to reclassification of lever-action shotguns, and yet they later reneged totally on this and have reversed their position. What do you feel about that, Rob?

Rob:

Daily I’m devastated by… “Devastated” is probably not the right word, but it breaks your spirit sometimes because the amount of things that just get turned around about facing up, picked up enough in the media about things that the government does. The thing that gets me most motivated with firearms this year is that I think the government, particularly city-centric governments and you couldn’t just blame one side or the other, but we’ll pick on the government here  of the day – I think they just see as cannon fodder, the firearms industry, like: “Let’s pick on someone. We’re trying to appeal to some voters out there,” and they’ve seen some mileage in it. We intend very much to expose that and drive the opposite end. You know, I guess you’re very much at the pointy end of trying to get that even just consultation at the start. Shane and I have burn up a lot of political capital. I’ve probably only called the Premier twice on issues, and this was one of them because I was so entirely frustrated with trying to do things the nice way. That was just trying to get meetings with the firearms industry.

Graham:

The previous two police ministers in Queensland, we found it virtually impossible to have a discussion with them. What did you find?

Rob:

That was a whole mark of their tenure in that spot. I just found that was a roadblock on any sort of discussion with them. You talk about policing issues, all this stuff, but as soon as you hit firearms industry issues it was like someone pulling strings in the background because it was just impossible to deal with them, and made us very angry. It’s the only time Shane and I’ve ever done a vote of no confidence is in the police minister at the time, which was 100% highly and solely on firearms issues, their ability, because there was just too much resistance there and it would have been disgusting of us not to have voted. We don’t like doing votes of no confidence and there’s been…

Graham:

It’s a pretty serious thing to do.

Rob:

It’s pretty serious stuff. There’s been another two since. We feel there was a hell of a lot of pressure come from outside with the last police minister as well in terms of getting some results in this area.

From our side of things we’ve probably spent a hell of a lot of this issue, but it wouldn’t matter if we told you now or if there was political [unintelligible 00:04:38] or not. It’s just a natural fit for us. I like my recreational shooting, and Shane I think every living moment that he’s got spare time he’s out and around. So we both like a bit, I think, just ideologically it’s just where we want to be and where we like representing a sort of people and those values that are there.

Probably the most ignorance I’ve seen in this parliament I think would be towards firearms and issues. People just don’t know what the hell they’re talking about, and the people have no idea what they’re talking about trying to make a political deal out of something, and it frustrates the hell out of us because it’s so misguided. You know all the arguments.

Graham:

Yeah.

Rob:

The Adler is an absolute ridiculous blooming issue that there is no sense in anyone’s argument. Even if you’re an anti-firearm person you would still think this is a ridiculous issue the way they’ve gone about it. We can even appeal to non-firearm owners on just how stupid they’ve been. Even their consultation. All the opportunities we had to do some proactive things where even non-firearm people, we could work with the government on some initiatives through the firearms industry, but wouldn’t even talk to us. So we’ve experienced, and you’ve shared in that, we’ve experienced extreme frustration. I don’t suppose it’s any coincidence that two police ministers have gone under that time. We’ve been pretty influential in this parliament, and that’s been a huge issue for us.

Graham:

It’s very clear that when the regulation changed for reclassification of the Adler to category D and things comes up in parliament that KAP will be opposing that.

Rob:

We love being in front of these issues. To be honest, I wish there was more because… Just a quick story, a media officer the other day was really worrying that there was donations made to our party from firearms industry, we should be worried about that. I said: “No way. I’m proud of that.” We shout that from the rooftops because we’re proud to represent the industry and we don’t walk away from the issue. That’s the whole power they have over us out there is they try to make you feel embarrassed about representing this issue. But not only are we proud of representing this issue or representing the industry, we also know the ignorant that positions people are adopting and that we have good, logical arguments to prosecute [unintelligible 00:07:21]. We’re safe as houses on the issue.

Graham:

There’s a question that just came in and it was asked by Penelope Arthur and said: “What’s going on with handgun legislation in Queensland?” I think what she’s referring to is the issue that you and I have battled with over the last two years, and that is that there is no change going on in handgun legislation in Queensland. However, there’s been a change in internal policy within the issuing of licenses, category H or handgun licenses to primary producers. I know what your position is, but a lot of our viewers wouldn’t. I know that you were actually the spark that set off the argument in parliament about this category H with farmers, and why for a hundred years they’ve been able to use them safely and suddenly there’s an internal policy change. What’s your thoughts on that?

Rob:

The story started for me with Roger Jeffery, a fellow from Cloncurry who said he’d been walking away from his vehicle the other day and he saw four dogs over in the distance. He said: “I used to carry a handgun around with me.” He’s a couple hundred Ks from the nearest town, and he said: “What if those dog up between me and the car?” He said: “I would have been in big trouble.” There’s not many trees out there in the place, and he said: “So I better go on and get my category H renewed.” Then we started digging around and finding this is happening everywhere. Again, we were just trying to be rational with the parliament to say: “There’s changes going on here. Obviously there’s changes because we’re getting all these letters now from people in Queensland,” and that was again for yourself.

Graham:

We had dozens and dozens, and AgForce had dozens.

Rob:

We found they’re just doing it all by stealth which his typical. We can understand or appreciate if you want to change your view or change the laws or something, but put it out in the open. But they tried to sneak all this stuff through. Somehow you can be in sport here, living in the city of Brisbane and have my category H; but I can’t be 200 kilometres out and from Cloncurry, wouldn’t get it, so it just doesn’t make sense.

Graham:

It does seem strange. It’s a legitimate reason for a license to put holes in pieces of paper, and I enjoy doing that and most of our members do. But how come it’s not a legitimate reason to humanely euthanize stock or put down an injured feral animal that you might have shot with a rifle at long range, or protect yourself from a dingo or something else? It does seem strange.

Question. Mark Cooper, he says: “Keep up the good work, Robbie. Thank you.” Mark’s saying nice things. Let’s go on a couple of other questions here. We have a question from a Michael Mutan about getting rid of PTAs. PTA is a permit to acquire, and we actually have about a half dozen questions, one from Michael, we have a question from Russell Burr, we have another one here from Allan Murray. We have a few regarding PTAs. Now, they word it a little different, Rob, but essentially they’re all going around: Why do we have this old-fashioned paper-based system that you go…? You already have a license, you’ve gone through all the background checks, you’ve gone through the safety training, then you have to go and apply again for a piece of paper. You’re actually given a physical piece of paper and for six months you can take that into a gun shop and pick up a firearm.

We’ve argued, and I know that it’s in KAP’s policy, that this is not an effective system. You’d be far better off with an instant verification system at dealers where people could take their license into the dealer, the dealer could enter those details into the government computer and that would say just like a credit card check, it would say: “Yes, you can sell them a firearm,” or: “No, you can’t.” That way we don’t have pieces of paper floating around that months later could be used to get a firearm when someone may have committed an offence at that time. We think it would be a major shift towards improving public safety.

Rob:

Yeah. As I just said before, there was heaps of areas where we could have proactively with the industry and with QPS, Queensland Police, everyone could have worked towards real-time registry online, think the dealers could manage. I think there was a grant of 30 million or something from the feds that was there with police that we could have accessed and lobbied for with this government if they would have talked to us and consulted with us in the first place to put that in place. Now you had Police Union, QPS I believe as well, everyone’s on board with this – makes community safer, brings it all out in the open. We all could have worked together, but for, I don’t know, political reasons: “I don’t want to talk to the firearms industry,” everyone loses, it’s a waste of bloody time.

Graham:

It’s continually a frustration is they won’t communicate and that money just goes away instead of being used. We’re getting questions everywhere here. Susan Godfrey: “Good on you, Rob, keep them transparent.” John Manny: “Good work, Robbie.” Justin Webb: “Because they get another $30 out of it,” that’s why they’d want to keep the PTA system. That’s true, but their PTA system has 100 civilian employees sitting there and processing them. They could all be done on automated, instant service, and that money could be spent on police officers that could be going around Rockhampton, Townsville, and Cloncurry looking after people.

Rob:

I’ve got my mate Shane Knuth here as well, very big on these issues as well. But as we always say, the licensing system, as I’m aware, they threw it out in Canada.

Graham:

Yes, the registration they threw out in Canada.

Rob:

The registration.

Graham:

And New Zealand.

Rob:

They put all this effort into the licensing and it’s all about the PTAs and everything. We can get into specifics about PTAs and I’m sure a lot of people listening would have a similar view, but really it’s the mandates because at the end of the day all this effort going to licensing does not help one bit with safety. Come pick on Rob Katter who has his guns in a safe, uses them responsibly – it doesn’t help one bit towards crimes or any offences with guns, so it’s basically a waste of time.

Graham:

Exactly. Thinking about theft of firearms, they’re locked up in a safe and we all want to keep them safe, but when people do have firearms stolen it seems that sometimes the licensed firearm owner is treated like a criminal so it’s kind of like blaming the victim. If someone gets raped it’s not considered good form to blame the victim. If any other thing happens to you it’s not good form to blame a victim. How come you see that it happens in this? I’m sure it’s happened in your electorate.

Rob:

It’s hard to put your finger on it, but people love picking on people there in the media and in public, and I think that’s why Shane and I get really uptight about the firearms as an issue because you really see this big part of the media that just likes picking on groups, and especially when they don’t understand something. They’re quick to get behind other minority groups, but when it comes to this, everyone seems to love picking on your mainstream media and I guess that just underlies a lot of why we don’t want to go out on a limb on this, and like really putting our brand on it because it’s exactly where we want to be in politics. This is probably a euphemism or a starting point for a lot of other values that come in the political system, but the whole industry is just shrouded in ridiculous ideas and ignorance. We say: Why did Canada go away from it? I’m told that they banned handguns in the UK and the handgun crime rates has risen.

Graham:

Has risen consistently ever since.

Rob:

These people don’t get the real idea. They just love the little political point-scoring when I can just get little bites. I think the one thing really strong I’ll say about the firearms industry as a group is that you blokes motivate and you get angry at the ballot box, and I think that’s a terrific thing that’s a good reflection on your members, because there’s a lot of industries out there that are suffering and they don’t stand up as an industry and take on the government. You guys have been good, so it’s gloriously good to see.

Graham:

Brit Johnston: “Become like America’s gun laws.” I think it’s a different culture here and I don’t think we want all the same things, but I think the point being that perhaps some of them might be a little fairer. Laine says: “Good on you, Robbie.” Patrick Rooke: “Can they use the system that’s the same as police use when they check your license?” That’s actually what we’re talking about with that instant background check is exactly that, is that check.

Here’s one that relates to you saying about some of the silly things, and banning handguns in England and things. This one is from Donovan Newton and he says: “Why are air rifles and paintball classified as firearms?” It is a strange question because we’re almost alone in the world in this. New Zealand you can go into a newspaper shop and buy air rifles, air pistols, things like that. England you can do that, and they have far more strict gun laws in some areas than we do. Most European countries, the United States, Canada. They’re not technically a firearm, but they’re being classed into this. Do you have any thoughts? It seems to me a lot of police energy goes into slug guns.

Rob:

Yeah. I probably shouldn’t say it, but I remember my cousins buying a Daisy rifle when they were younger, and pelting his younger brother with it on the legs and I don’t think it even drew blood. So, I don’t know.

Graham:

Not a good practice, but it does demonstrate that we’re really not talking about high-powered [unintelligible 00:18:07] here.

Rob:

Obviously I don’t advocate that. I’m just trying to make the point: I’m not sure we’re dealing with lethal weapons. I acknowledge there’s high-powered air rifles out there. Shane and I have already discussed last parliament actually, but always about looking at the classification of air rifles and somehow legislating for that. I never heard about the paintball one, actually never thought about that.

Graham:

Paintballs fall into the same thing.

Rob:

Fair point. Again, a waste of police resources.

Graham:

Colin Eve has a question about the next round of re-categorization or confiscations. I assume, Colin, you’re referring about the potential reclassification in Queensland of the lever-action shotguns. Certainly our position is that that is just a preamble or preface to setting up to reclassify lever-action rifles, pump-action rifles, and confiscations of property.

Rob:

Yeah. I’m sure between Colin, you and I, we’d sit down and find 20 rifles/shotguns that you could justify as more deadly than an Adler in the wrong situation. I think me clumsily trying to reload another seven shots in an Adler, if you’re serious about doing damage, wouldn’t be my first choice.

Graham:

No. Wouldn’t even be in your top three.

Rob:

So it’s a ridiculous proposition that that one singled out.

Graham:

Once they do this it’s going to be a very easy argument to then say: All these lever-action rifles of which there’s not tens of thousands, there’s hundreds of thousands around the country, if not millions and they’re very common. A .30-30 lever action is one of the most common found guns in Australia. Every one of those would be reclassified if you took this to the next step.

Rob:

Yeah. The proposition in state parliament as I understand is: “They’re not that unsafe that we’re going to take them all off you, so if you’ve got one you can still keep them. So we’re happy for a big heap to be out there, but we’re going to ban them from now on.” It’s just a completely ambiguous position.

Graham:

It sort of exposes its own hypocrisy on the thing. A couple of people were talking in here about opening up crown land to shooters and hunters in Queensland. Do you guys have any perspective on that?

Rob:

Yeah. In fact, I think Shane put a question in parliament last parliament I think about that. There’s been good work already, going to national parks and that sort of thing with hunting and shooting. We’re from areas where the feral pigs, dogs, cats, they’re just the absolute vermin. They talk about the barrier reef environment, the barrier reef, you should see the destruction out in our areas with quickly [unintelligible 00:21:07] pigs, dogs, and cats. I mean the cats killing every blooming species there is out there. How do you get rid of them?

Graham:

       On my property we’re getting for the first time in living                        memory,  I’ve got a neighbour who’s in his 80s, he’s never seen a        pig in our valley until two years ago, and now there’s just a                  stream of them coming out of our national park about 15Ks                  away. We’re now weekly seeing them from never seeing them in        this guy’s 80  years of his life. The same with feral deer coming          out. While they may be fun to hunt sometimes, it’s not too much        fun when they start eating all the feed that the young cows need.

Rob:

There’s a few national parks out in my area, in my electorate       where they just said it’s disgraceful the standard there now.       Waterholes that are overrun by pigs. To be fair, some of these     ranges they’re just not resourced to do it. They’re trying to keep it handled, and you’ve got this free resource of recreational       shooters, good, responsible people that can go out there and do   the  job for them. So it makes perfect sense.

Graham:

That brings us to a great question by Ozzie Reviews, which is a   group that do firearm reviews, hunting reviews, and things         online. The question from Ozzie is: “Let’s get a bill before   parliament to change the gun laws in Queensland so we, the         people, can talk to our local members about whether they           support  it or not.” He raises a point because he has a lot of pest controllers out there who are having difficulty with getting       licenses anymore that we should look at a voluntary feral pest     controller so they can access, say, a category C firearm, shotgun or something, to help landholders. The definition of primary       producer has once again been changed by stealth, like we were   talking about with the cate H where at the moment it’s been very   difficult for some reason to get any category license as a primary producer where there’s already a simple classification, and that’s just to say: Every commercial primary producer in this country has an ABN issued by the tax department that is specific to  primary producers. It would be very easy to simply say: If you apply for a primary producer license for firearms of any category that that would be a standard parameter so it’s not subjective. What’s happening is it’s subjective. What are your thoughts on that?

Rob:

Yeah. I couldn’t add any value to what you just said, but the       intent of politics, that’s music to my ears. We love putting these up front and seeing people having a vote on it because I can say what I want here and anyone else can say to you: “We support     you,” but let’s put it in parliament, see how people vote. I have   Shane Knuth next to me and other staff, that’s music to our ears.   We’d love to see it in parliament [crosstalk 00:24:11].

Graham:

We would. I want to introduce over here Shane Knuth. Shane is also MLA in Queensland parliament for the Katter Australia       Party, KAP, and does a fantastic job. I know Shane is probably a keener shooter than Rob.

Rob:

Yeah, that’s true.

Graham:

They say that certain gun shops stay in business because of the   ammo he buys.

Shane:

I do want to say that it’s a great honour to support and represent the firearm owners of this state and country.

Graham:

The job that these guys have been doing is great. Here’s a         question by John for you, Shane: Why do you think the               Queensland government is so reluctant to open public lands to   hunting? Not necessarily national parks, but crown land.

Shane:

One of the things is they don’t like firearm owners in the first   place. Obviously you’ve seen the way Queensland government has  responded to any form of firearm legislation. One of the things is, and this is so important, is when you’re giving access to firearm owners to public land, you’re creating jobs, you’re looking after the local outdoor stores, you’re looking after the environment. The pigs are probably one of the greatest environmental vandals going.  You have the feral cat, likewise the same. Those feral cats are  killing a native bird every day. When you look to that of what they’re actually doing to our native wildlife. Pigs are digging up the state and country, ripping up the river systems, the turtle eggs, and it just goes on. But those recreational hunters, they are able to  control that in their own time, in their own expense, plus they contribute to their local economy. It’s just ridiculous how they’re kept out, pushed out, and government spends millions of dollars—millions of dollars—trying to eradicate feral pigs by helicopter or whatever means when we’ve got people out there that can do this in their own time and own expense.

Graham:

There’s an actual legal classification of pest control, a person licensed. They’ve continually made that more difficult to get a license. They’re now trying to say it has to be almost your full-time income which was, to my mind, never the intent of the act. We have a proposal we’d like to see put specifically into regulation that you can be a voluntary pest controller. What do you guys think about the idea of that? For the proper people who are licensed and everything else, of course.

Shane:

When I was young we used to walk 20 kilometres just to shoot one pig, and we’ve got a lot of dedicated shooters out there, but they don’t have that access which is unfortunate. A lot will do this. There’s places like Staaten River National Park, 700,000 acres that are just sitting there and it’s just a breeding ground for them, the feral animals, noxious weeds, you name it. But you give the recreational hunters an opportunity for access, controlled access, they will get out there, they will clean those pigs out, they’ll clean those feral cats out, and they’re doing something good for the society.

Graham:

Zero cost to the government.

Shane:

Zero cost to the government, so that’s less cost to the taxpayer and also it’s a recreation, they enjoy doing it, and this is the Australian way of life.

Graham:

Here’s one from David Brown: “What is it that Jackie Trad has against regional Queensland?” She wanted to put in at least what I thought were devastating vegetation laws that would have really hurt rural industry in a serious manner, not just a little bit. Now she turns around and thinks she’s an expert on lever-action shotguns that probably benefit exactly what we’re sitting here talking about, which is feral animal control. You worked around in parliament. Is it a personalized thing with virtual issues?

Rob:

I’ve got an opinion on that, because I think she’s a manifestation of the people she represents. I think there’s a lot of people who think like her in South Brisbane, Anna Bligh was similar before her, and I can probably cherry-pick a few others in Brisbane that think the same way. I think you can’t just blame the politician that’s there. There is a lot of people that have views that I would diametrically oppose to and probably on 90% of what they say, but they reflect the views, which is what you’re up against. You think you’re killing the head of a snake, but you’re not.

Graham:

Not necessarily blame the individual. We have to look at where they’re coming from and their influence.

Rob:

[Crosstalk 00:29:24] exactly the same thing.

Graham:

It’s on them who controls them politically or that sort of thing.

Rob:

There’s a way of thinking. If you start on firearms, I think dad used the phrase: “People have a morbid fascination now because they don’t have interaction with firearms and they think it’s this weird thing, whereas it’s a tool or it’s just something that you use and you use safely.”

Graham:

Whereas those of us in a bush, we’re used to every day of our lives since we were literally in nappies, having them in the house around quite safely, just like we have chainsaws and motorbikes.

Rob:

The only time she sees it in a movie or computer game and thinks…

Shane:

We have found many times when a committee has gone out to rural and regional Queensland, when they ride on a back of a four-wheeler, when sometimes they’ve seen dingos rip to pieces and pulled apart in calves.

Graham:

That’s brutal.

Shane:

They get a little bit more of an understanding. We’re always very, very concerned for the fact that a lot of decisions that are made that relate to rural and regional Queensland are made by, put together, or put forward by people who live right in the city here that haven’t really experienced living out there in rural and regional Queensland where they’re living amongst feral pigs, where they’re living amongst dingos, and wild animals that cause havoc. I probably say to those: Get a little bit of life skills, get out there and see what it’s all about before you make decisions and put legislation together to make it different for us.

Graham:

Yeah, because you’re affecting other people’s lives and incomes.

Shane:

That’s correct.

Graham:

Over and over. I have a question here by Ryan Brooks. It sort of relates to this whole thing about feral animals. It says: “Why are health and safety devices like suppressors,” suppressors that go on the end of a firearm and work like a muffler and lower the sound level… They’re not silencers, but they’re… “They’re in the same restricted category as rocket launchers and hand grenades under the current Queensland legislation.” Yet, all of Scandinavia, most of Western Europe, New Zealand, United Kingdom don’t even regulate them at all. He’s asking: “Surely the benefits of suppressors, even if it’s on some sort of licensing program, would outweigh the risks, allowing a greater destruction of feral animals. We’re not scaring animals off as much, plus the hearing issue for the shooters.”

Rob:

Probably a bit too much common sense, there, Graham. It makes perfect sense to us and all see the value of that. A point was made, too, with the category H on the handguns. One family wrote into us, said: “I’ve got two blocks to go along the highway. If I’m in a quad bike and I have to now have a rifle pouch on the side of the bike, it’s a lot more visible than having a pistol in a toolbox.”

Graham:

That’s a very good point for thieves or anyone else.

Rob:

The same, if you’ve got suppressors close to an area, if it was within reach, cooey of anyone, it just helps deal with that issue which is another point. It’s all valid. I couldn’t go through all the categories of firearms with all the secret models and makes, but it is laughable sometimes when you line up the inconsistencies with the states: “It’s a national agreement, we’re all supposed to be in line…”

Graham:

But we’re not.

Rob:

It’s so inconsistent, the ridiculous nature makes it [crosstalk 00:33:04].

Graham:

There’s one that’s an air rifle in Queensland that’s category A, then in West Australia is a category D and it’s a single-shot air gun that a young kid would generally learn on because it’s got a pistol grip on it instead of a wood stock.

Rob:

Oh, deadly.

Graham:

It makes them much more. It’s like red cars, they go faster. Here’s one from Harry Sutton, he says: “This is a great forum. KAP, you should do much more to keep us all aware of your policy and how the state is working or not working. A lot of people want to hear from you regularly.” You guys are movie stars already.

Speaker:

The Katter Channel.

Graham:

The Katter Channel.

Rob:

Didn’t think we were that interesting, though.

Graham:

Justin Webb comments the government would make money on letting us shoot on crown land in the form of GST and income tax from increase in ammunition firearms, hotel accommodation.

Shane:

Absolutely.

Graham:

Everything else.

Shane:

They buy four-wheel drives, they spend money on fuel. It’s already money going back to GST, and likewise, when I was saying there before, it supports camping stores, GST gets paid, but it also creates jobs in the community.

Graham:

The recreational hunting and shooting industry in Victoria is estimated I think it was 380 million or something, I can’t remember the exact figure. Apologies if I’m a little wrong, but it was around that or more. That was just from the hunting part, but that’s the estimation in Victoria. The Victorian government did a survey and they said: “That’s a lot of money,” and it would be more here because there’s a lot more firearm owners in the rural areas available in Queensland. That was not even taking into account all the people who travel for tiger competitions or other types of things, what it brings to an area.

Rob:

I’ll share one story quickly with you. There’s a [unintelligible 00:34:57] at home, very well-known, and he came to see me once probably the first time I was elected, but he said he put a tender in to do some pest management on national parks area, it was government land. He was discussing the tender with him and he said if I bought the… [Unintelligible 00:35:18], it was for the roos anyway, harvesting off them. They said: “Oh no, you can’t harvest them. You have to leave them where they lie.” He said: “But I’m trying to get rid of… I’m shooting pigs as well. I don’t… That’s just going to encourage more and more pigs if you’re leaving dead carcasses.”

Graham:

For those who don’t know, if you shoot the kangaroos and leave them lay, the pigs will come eat the kangaroos, it will actually attract more feral animals.

Rob:

So he wasn’t there to harvest to make money out of it, but he had to just leave them there to make more pigs come in there. That’s how ridiculous you get.

Graham:

So they pay him to shoot them, but then he couldn’t ecologically use that, so we’re able to use the skins and the meat. So every piece of that animal is utilized and is a benefit, instead of wasting it which seems the very antithesis of what you’d want if you were a bit of a greeny.

This one from Nicholas Woolington about: “Is it foreseeable that kangaroo shooting might not end up requiring an additional license permit? In Queensland I know that the act has declared them a controlled pest,” but he was travelling out west, he was surprised how many roos they are. Then he was really surprised you can’t shoot them because he thought roo shooting was legal. Well, it is legal but the whole idea of having to have a special permit for them. I don’t know what your thoughts are on that with the numbers we see.

Rob:

I don’t know. I’m no expert, but I know, like they were saying there was a kangaroo drought. A lot of that drought we had the last three or four years in Queensland because even when you did get rain you just had these thousands of roos coming, and just smashing whatever green grass they had. So the quotas… People were saying they’d run out of quota or whatever or the tags, and you’d think there’d be some latitude in the system that you could get out there and [unintelligible 00:37:13] proportions on your place, that they’d have an extension in that. That was an issue that was raised. I’m ashamed to say, we sort of get a bit busy here I suppose, but it’s one that we haven’t pursued.

Graham:

Yeah, because it really does cause a lot of damage. Kangaroo damage is not even considered when National Farmers’ Federation did their survey that came up with at least 700 million dollars’ of damage a year to agriculture just on feral animals. That didn’t include kangaroos because they’re not feral.

We have one from Mark Cooper, he says: “What do you think can be done to reign in particular weapons’ licensing branch-making policy instead of enforcing laws?” Do they do that? What do you think?

Rob:

I want to say something first. I reckon there’s a lot of interference there from weapons’ licensing. They say the tail wagging the dog, because I thought with special elect the government, the elective representatives and the minister, they’re accountable for policy, change policy, and have people underneath them enforce that, but it seemed to me from my interactions that there was stuff working the other way because you think you’re having a sensible conversation with government ministers, and I think that’s a real problem. To be honest, I don’t know how it’s supposed to work but I’m sure the elective representatives would be the ones pulling the strings or making the call because they’re the one that gets voted in or out. You can’t vote in or out a weapons’ licensing branch.

Graham:

No. Very true. I’ve found a lot of people who work in there extremely efficient, extremely helpful but it’s always they’re not necessarily the ones I deal with at setting policy. You guys deal with it as politicians.

Rob:

I can’t, because otherwise where else does this come from? Even I’ve said all the stuff about politics and having to go, they don’t wake up and think of a specific idea of where to target. It has to come from someone with knowledge and skin in the game, and I don’t think it’s coming from the firearms industry, so you’d have to make the assumption it’s coming from there. It might only be one or two, but who knows? Whatever, I don’t think it’s the way a government should run.

Graham:

Here’s one by Leah Num, he or she… Sorry, Leah.

Rob:

He I think.

Graham:

“My company has developed an electronic register for dealers that will secure data and also allow near instant updates of transaction to weapons’ licensing, allow for support of things such as instant PTAs. I’ve contacted Robbie’s office about it, but haven’t heard anything back. Is there something we can do to help? The software is done. We’re getting jerked around by the same group.

Rob:

I’ve seen your name before, Leah, but I didn’t know you had contacted my office. I certainly knew of electronic registers initiatives, so I didn’t know if there’s more than one or if that’s the one that people talked about.

Graham:

There is some great software out there. I’m not sure if it’s that one or not.

Rob:

We’re doing everything we can here. We tried to move Heaven and Earth from our end in state parliament to get them to come to the table so they could work with the likes of Graham here to get one out in this parliament, but there’s just been no work here in that space. I’ll definitely get back on to you, Leah, because I’m sorry that you hadn’t heard back from us on that.

Graham:

Send us to us at Shooters’ Union, send it to the Facebook or office, and we’ll make sure it gets across to the KAP guys as well. We’ll also circulate it with other people who might be sympathetic because it is a really important issue. I have to say it’s closer to realization than ever, and I would also have to say in fairness there are certain people that I’ve talked to within police circles who are hugely in favour of that. They feel frustrated as well by others who are seemingly dragging their heels for no reason and not wanting to modernize, which would save money and likely improve public safety at the same time.

Rob:

Yeah. It’s probably worth saying that, too, because I met people in QPS relatively high up the chain that I don’t think are really happy with the way things are managed. I think they [unintelligible 00:41:53]. I’m not pointing a finger at everyone. I think…

Graham:

No, not at all. We’ve got literally hundreds of members of Shooters’ Union who are serving police officers up to reasonably high ranks. Some are very much expert in their field in firearms. I have to say they’re not happy. They would sit here with us and agree, except they might get in trouble, but they would.

Shane:

We’ve always found, too, there’s many of the QPS that are hoping and praying that someone from above can give a directive down below so that a decision is made that’s in the best interest for firearm owners in the state, but they’re just waiting for that directive. That’s where we, Robbie and I, can play a part and hoping that we can see change.

Graham:

It would be wonderful to see. As you say, there’s some people that really want to see that and the time may be coming. Here’s a question by Henry Lever and it’s a bit technical. “Why was .50 calibre restricted in Queensland where it’s legal in New South Wales, Victoria? People are saying that the calibre .338 Lapua, which is a long-range calibre is being denied in Queensland – how can they do this? It isn’t part of the act or specifically mentioned anywhere in policy.” I would have to say on the technical side, I’m not trying to answer it for you, it’s just that I’ve had to deal with this one. It gets technical. The .338 is not being denied except for the ranges. In fairness to… If someone puts down target shooting as the reason, the ranges in Queensland are literally not approved except for one to shoot .338 Lapua. So if you put down target shooting, it’s not really QPS’ fault in that sense. If you put it down for hunting, I have not heard of any being denied at all. As far as you just need big properties, you’re going on to big areas that someone’s signed off on 150 acres at Stanthorpe or something, quite naturally. The .50 calibre Browning restriction in Queensland, I’m not really sure of any reason for that one. It’s available in virtually any state. Have you guys got any knowledge on that at all?

Rob:

I knew it was legal in one other state. I didn’t know which one, but all I can say about that is the inconsistencies, especially Nationally Firearm Agreement where we’re all doing the same, and that’s their reason for tightening things here and it’s ridiculous.

Graham:

Funny, it’s only ever the reason for tightening. Shane, do you know anything about that .50 calibre?

Shane:

No. Just unsure about that. I’ve heard something, but I just have to follow it through.

Graham:

As far as I know there’s three other states that it’s fine in, including the two most populated states, New South Wales and Victoria. You could change the same round to a .495 using the same case and it’s legal. It’s just that particular designation, so it does always seem strange to me.

Here’s one again, Christian Peterson: “Does the KAP have a policy plan on getting rid of firearms’ registration in Queensland?”

Rob:

We certainly had a policy on the PTAs to get that electronic registration. I think that’s where we’ve focused on. In principle we can’t believe that the licensing system works, but I guess we’re trying small steps to get the wins where we can.

Graham:

Eating an elephant one bite at a time?

Rob:

Yeah. So it’s good to do things, to put things in the parliament on principle and don’t mind doing that, but we’ve had a few wins here, just waiting for that opportunity and getting things where we can argue the logic, and it’s easy to get people across the line – bang, have a win on that. You get a win on the air rifles, the PTAs or something, then you keep moving.

Graham:

Then people see that you haven’t lowered public safety by doing those things, but you’ve probably made things simpler and more efficient, which in the long term would positively affect public safety.

We’ve got about five or six minutes here to go. I want to ask just a couple more personal… Shane, you as a keen shooter, what’s your favourite firearm to shoot? What do you enjoy shooting the most?

Shane:

I do have a pump-action .270. One of the reasons with a [crosstalk 00:46:51].

Graham:

Remington?

Shane:

Remington pump action. My eyes are not as good as what they used to be.

Graham:

Common. Common problem.

Shane:

I used to have a long-barrel Winchester .270 and sometimes I could pull pigs off 300 yards on the run. Now I’m flat out seeing the pig at 300 yards. But I do say that I did have a pump-action shotgun which helps support it, particularly when we’re on the back of four-wheel drive so I can clean up lots of pigs. But the .270 you can hit pigs at 200 yards. I can’t see them at 300 now, but also at 200 yards the pig tends to drop in one hit rather than three and four, so that’s probably what I like about the .270.

Graham:

What about you, Rob?

Rob:

Me, I’ve got a [unintelligible 00:47:39] .33, it’s a good sort of sporting rifle. They’re probably safe in excess of 50 or 100 yards, for me, the pigs. But if you said two things, forget a week of I like going out in the bush with a friend and we go fishing and camping, and we take care of a few pigs as well. That’s how we get the feel we’re doing the environment a good turn, but I’ve trialed with a scope and without, and I’m still in that space. I go to the range a little bit.

Graham:

He’s got younger eyes.

Rob:

I go to the range a little bit with the scope on just to test my skill, but yeah, Shane usually has a lot more better stories than I have. A lot of my friends said: “You couldn’t hit a bull in the ass with a handful of rice,” so they’re usually safe around me.

Graham:

Here’s one from [Unintelligible 00:48:39]… Having actually accidentally once shot a bull in the rear, I can relate. I could hit one. The question for you, Robbie, says: “These days the people are needing to engage with our politicians more. Have you considered more regular Facebook, live chats like this with your [crosstalk 00:49:02]?”

Rob:

Actually it’s only the last couple months, but maybe a couple of things and just starting to think: “Boy, oh boy. It’s the way to go now.” Very hard, Shane and I have massive electorates. We’re not even in signal range most of the time. Most of the time you’re driving the road to some remote town, Boulia, Bedourie, Birdsville, Georgetown, Mornington Island, these places. Shane has his own collection of places, so hard to do. I don’t want to say people in the bush have more good sense, but often when you’re circulating you get a different opinion to what you get in in any city in Brisbane. So you spend a lot of time out there and you get an alternate view. There’s still a lot of people who have alternate views in Brisbane, but you spend out there and probably the majority have an alternative view, but the trade-off is we have to try to get time next to the TV camera, in range, or returning phone calls when you get back to the range at night at the pub or the motel where you’re staying. So this is the only way to go.

Graham:

This Facebook live system, something that you could do on an ongoing basis and your electorate office can put out to people in your electorate and you can have almost a conversation this way, like these questions are all coming in. What is your electorate, Shane? Tell me what it’s called and where it is.

Shane:

I do have the electorate of Dalrymple, which I have mining towns such as Moranbah and some of Clermont rural, down west of Mackay. I stretch up into the Charters Towers region, and I also do have the Atherton Tablelands. Travelling to one major centre to the other, you’re looking at probably three or four hours without mobile phone coverage, like Robbie as an example.

Being a rural representative, we’re very, very proud, and we’re very proud to come down here and represent rural people. But we are probably a little bit more behind. We’re starting to learn this Facebook. Before we virtually did things by fax. Now it’s improved to emails, and now there’s Facebook. We’re getting there, but we’re not quite there. It’s a very good question. We’d probably like to indulge a lot more.

Graham:

Rob, which electorate are you in and what areas does that cover?

Rob:

Mount Isa is the electorate and I live in Mount Isa which is the biggest city in it, and the rest of the electorate is all just small towns. It’s the only reason [crosstalk 00:51:50] city.

Graham:

How far west does that go?

Rob:

I’m out on the North Territory border and the entire Northern Territory border shared with Queensland is my electorate, so it goes down to Birdsville and then right up the top back up the Gulf Waters, there’s islands up there, like Mornington Island, Aboriginal community, and then you go [Unintelligible 00:52:05] east from there right across to Georgetown, whereas that now then change electorate, come down to Hughenden and halfway Charters Towers, then back down through Winton, Birdsville…

Graham:

You guys must put huge miles on vehicles and in planes.

Rob:

Yeah, we ruin vehicles.

Shane:

In the last 13 years I’ve probably close to $200,000 in damages hitting roos, pigs, emus, wedge-tailed eagles, and cows. It’s pretty wild.

Graham:

He’s a danger to wildlife.

Rob:

I haven’t hit a cow yet.

Shane:

Yeah, I’ve had a vehicle…

Graham:

You always remember hitting one.

Shane:

A four-wheel drive wiped out after hitting a cow. It was actually my football major’s cow that I hit.

Graham:

Major popular.

Rob:

Can I just say on the Facebook thing? I’m reading a book on politics at the moment, and it’s saying with this sort of stuff now, now people are getting a voice and politicians can’t go out and BS and say: “Oh, yeah, I’ll back you on this,” and then try to do shifty things in the parliament because the information is moving faster so that if Shane and I don’t vote on it, you’ll know straight away, which is a good thing because we know how we vote. We like transparency in the system. There’s been people sweet-talking interest groups, whether it’s cane farmers, fisherman, cattleman, shooters, and they’ll say all the right things but when it comes time to voting and operate in parliament, sometimes they’re stuck out in the bush or they might just be isolated in the sea and they just don’t get this information. We’re all for this. We like more information because then everyone gets found out and I like that.

Graham:

Here’s one that’s coming related to how parliament works. This will be really helpful to some people. With this supposed reclassification coming up and labour supports that, it’s pushing it, we’re not sure yet how the LNP will position themselves on it. We know that you’re opposed to it. So what’s the chance in Queensland of KAP blocking this reclassification? What would happen? Of lever-action shotguns.

Rob:

We spend a lot of time on the crossbench. I don’t want to say we’re the martyrs, but we’ve taken a few hits in the parliament to try to get bigger things through. We’re talking on the crossbench, and that’s been difficult in some cases, but there’s been some bigger fish we’ve had to fry in the turn. There’s always… They can be a cost to us, they’re trying to get crossbench support on things, but we usually like a decision on what’s important to us.

Shane:

That’s right. Probably one of the big issues that we’ll [unintelligible 00:54:55] to block to see legislation not passed in parliament because we’ve been here so many times where we’ve seen legislation just smash through, but we were able to stop the vegetation management impost on the landowners throughout rural and regional Queensland. That was a big win. But we’ve definitely worked hard to try to convince the crossbenches to work with a major party. If it’s good, we’ll support. If it’s bad, let’s stop it.

Graham:

With the reclassification I’d say what has to happen is… If LMP decides not to support it, KAP is already not supporting it, we’ll then need the LMP, KAP, and one of the two independents, either Robbie Pyne or Billy Gordon to oppose it as well. So if you live in one of those electorates, it’s probably a good idea to get a hold of them and let them know your feeling.

I’d really like to thank you guys for the openness, the transparency. I’ve been dealing with politicians on this issue for 20 years. You don’t know how rare it is to sit in a room with politicians who just give you a straight answer and get on with the job, instead of the media-driven round and round stuff we normally get. So, thanks very much, Shane, for coming along. Appreciate it. Robbie. We really appreciate what KAP does. I don’t think you get enough publicity, but they’ve really done a lot for us, guys. Thank you and thanks to them.

Shane:

Thanks to the Shooters’ Union. I just want to say it’s an honour to serve.

Graham:

Thank you.

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