Western Australia gun ban

Blatantly disrespectful and dismissive: WA’s Papalia slammed by shooters

Western Australian Police Minister Paul Papalia has outraged representatives of the shooting community by steadfastly refusing to engage with them as he champions the state’s draconian new gun laws.

The Western Australia Firearms Community Alliance (WAFCA) and the Shooting Industry Foundation Australia (SIFA) both confirmed Papalia is continuing to take an autocratic stand on the matter. 

“Papalia is refusing to meet with WAFCA, the alliance collectively formed by WA’s firearms groups, interest groups and industry to facilitate one of the most basic functions a government should offer its constituents — consultation on how they are governed,” WAFCA spokesperson Paul Fitzgerald said.

Jame Walsh, CEO of SIFA, said his organisation had met with Papalia but that the Minister had “refused to offer SIFA a seat at the table to consult or discuss matters that will ultimately affect the entire Australian shooting industry”.

“We highlighted the importance of genuine consultation with industry and sporting groups during the re-write of the state’s Firearms Act,” he said.

“Papalia also stated that he wasn’t interested in a nationally consistent approach, effectively turning his back, and that of Western Australia, on the National Firearms Agreement.”

WAFCA is made up of virtually every recognised shooting organisation in WA, covering the sport and industry, and is the main body put forward to represent the state’s 85,000 licensed shooters.

Yet WAFCA spokesperson Paul Fitzgerald said all corresponce received from the government or police had been “dismissive at best” and labelled Papalia as being “blatantly disrespectful”.

“WAFCA’s member groups are committed to finding the balance between improving public safety through the Firearms Act rewrite and implementing the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission, that clearly states no greater burden should be placed on a law-abiding citizen to legally licence, use and possess a firearm,” he said.

Papalia has said he wants the new laws to reduce the number of legal firearms in the community. Among other things, they will limit the number of firearms a licensed shooter may own and restrict shooters’ access to venues where they can use them.

He has already banned a number of specific calibres and the rifles that use them.

Papalia is backed by senior police who have shown themselves to be paranoid about the risk that someone might start sniping at officers, despite no evidence that there is any risk at all. 

He has also “cobbled together” (in Fitzgerald’s words) the Primary Producers Firearms Advisory Board, of which he is the chair, to allow the agricultural industry to give advice and feedback on the new laws.

Major WA media outlets — primarily Seven West — have been backing the government’s position, and The West Australian has been accused of being a propaganda piece for Papilla’s gun-law push. 

A significant number of opposition members of the WA parliament have spoken against the government’s proposed new laws but with Labor holding an unbeatable majority in both upper and lower houses, there is little they can do to produce any reasonable change. 

“The WA Labor Government appears only to be interested in sustaining a popularity campaign that creates fear and untruths about legal firearm owners,” Fitzgerald 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.