Exclusive: In the wake of accusations of having let down Queensland primary producers on the subject of handgun ownership, the LNP has released its new weapons policy.
Titled LNP’s Fairer Gun Laws, it promises to renew all existing category H weapons licences for primary producers.
“In government, the LNP will ensure that all new applicants are fairly assessed and in a timely manner,” opposition police spokesman, Tim Mander said. “We will give farmers a fair go and not treat them like criminals.”
Concern has been growing in farming and grazing circles about the increasing number of category H, or handgun, applications being rejected by the Weapons Licensing Branch.
It culminated in a public spat between the LNP and Katter’s Australia Party parliamentary leader, Rob Katter, following a debate in the Legislative Assembly over whether primary producers should have “as of right” access to handguns.
The LNP refused to support the crossbench motion, which Mr Katter said was an attack on farmers’ rights.
“Hopefully this policy puts to bed the suggestions that we don’t stick up for law-abiding firearms owners,” Mr Mander said.
“The government has treated law-abiding farmers worse than criminal gang members.
“Unlike Labor, we have listened to the concerns of our farmers who need hand guns for the safe management of their farms.”
Under the LNP’s Fairer Gun Laws policy, primary producers who currently hold a Category H licence will have it renewed while ever they meet the ‘fit and proper person test’ – as per Section 10B of the Weapons Act 1990.
Other elements of the policy include the restoration of a Ministerial Weapons Advisory Panel as a standing body, the implementation of a Licensed Instant Verification System (LIVS) to reduce the time spent on compliance, and increasing penalties for gun crime.
Mr Mander said a Tim Nicholls-led government would be advising the Weapons Licensing Branch to implement the policy.
“The government can’t abrogate its responsibility to public servants, which is what Labor has done,” he said.
People who have had their licence renewal refused will be able to reapply for consideration under the new policy.
According to Mr Mander, the LIVS plan will do real-time background checks that will bring the licensing system into the 21st century.
“It’s so paper-based at the moment – we will put resources in the right areas, chasing criminals, not tied up in bureaucracy,” he said.
A decision by the current government to omit weapons dealers from its new Weapons Consultation Forum incensed the Firearms Dealers Association of Queensland, which said it was the first time in 50 years a government minister had refused to deal with the people who have an intrinsic role in firearms transactions.
It would appear from the LNP statement, that this would no longer be the case and weapons dealers would once again be included on the panel.
As far as increasing penalties, Mr Mander said Queensland currently had some of the weakest penalties in Australia in relation to stealing or theft of a firearm, a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.
“We have increased penalties for gun crime before and we will do that again to re-focus law enforcement on criminality, not law abiding firearm owners who do the right thing.”