Guns in Australia

Shooters condemn “obscenity” of huge funding for National Firearms Register

The Albanese Government has pledged more than $160m of taxpayer money to get a National Firearms Register running, a move described as “an obscenity” by the Shooters Union and a “wasteful spill of the public purse” by Katter’s Australian Party.

Shooting organisations have repeatedly pointed out that a national register already effectively exists, and that any national register would be founded on flawed data provided by multiple state registries.

The anti-gun Alannah & Madeline Foundation, set up in the wake of the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, has called the funding “a monumental win for community safety” and made the dubious claim that since Port Arthur, “we’ve only had one mass shooting in Australia — it’s incredible proof in the pudding [sic] that not having the firearms in our community works”.

The statement ignores the fact that there are more legally owned firearms in Australian than before 1996, as well as the fact that mass killings — whether or not committed with firearm — continue in Australia. 

It is not at all clear how “community safety” will benefit from establishing an expensive National Firearms Register.

Katter’s Australian Party Queensland MP Nick Dametto pointed to the Queensland Weapons Licensing Branch as an example of how relying on existing state data will set up the national register for failure.

“Numerous inaccuracies exist and there have even been instances of firearms mysteriously disappearing from the register,” he said, “all of which underscores the branch’s inability to maintain reliable data.

“This latest wasteful spill of the public purse has got nothing to do with community or police safety and everything to do with the Albanese Government seeking to gain votes on an emotive topic.”

Graham Park, president of the Shooters Union Australia, said, “Despite … very obvious and high-profile problems [in state registries], the Commonwealth Government thinks torching $160m for a duplicate and flawed database of legally owned firearms is the best use of that considerable sum.

“It’s an obscenity and a slap in the face to every Australian doing it tough at the moment – which is pretty much everyone.”

He said the funding would be better spent elsewhere in the interests of public safety.

“$160m would fund a lot of psychologists, and the resulting improvement in mental health outcomes would improve community safety and quality of life infinitely more than an inaccurate database,” he said.

The state firearms registries will get shares of the $160m funding to invest in their databases with the ambition of cleaning up the data and harmonising the details before the national register is eventually running in 2028.

The announcement of the funding was made on the eve of the anniversary of the Port Arthur massacre by Federal Attorney General Mark Dreyfuss and Queensland Police Minister Mark Ryan. 

The Queensland government has welcomed the establishment of a national register after the Wieambilla shootings, in which six people people died including three perpetrators and two police, but Mr Dametto dismissed the state’s support as a “cash grab by the state to fix something they have neglected at the expense of public safety and licensed firearm owners for too long”.

“What occurred at Wieambilla was a true tragedy for Queenslanders and our serving police officers but this latest sleight of hand and wasteful spending will do nothing to prevent an atrocity like this happening again,” he said.




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Mick Matheson

Mick grew up with guns and journalism, and has included both in his career. A life-long hunter, he has long-distant military experience and holds licence categories A, B and H. In the glory days of print media, he edited six national magazines in total, and has written about, photographed and filmed firearms and hunting for more than 15 years.

One Comment

  1. i think if we are going to put everything on the table and we want a grand gesture of security and safety of the community, Let’s also include a royal commision into the actual events of what really happened at port arthur massacre. to help everyone really understand… I believe there needs to be a very transparent cause and reasoning if any group wants to continue this self actualization on being an authority on people’s privileges.
    What gets me is how and where this money became allocated. I’m genuinely surprised, if this doesn’t look nefarious then i don’t know what dose…