Exposed: Papalia’s secret $76 million gun buyback

The extent of WA Police Minister Paul Papalia’s mooted gun buyback has been revealed, buried in the state government’s mid-year financial projections, and it could cost taxpayers more than $76 million.

The Shooting Industry Foundation Australia (SIFA) brought the projections to light before it was publicly revealed, saying it was “sounding the alarm at secret plans to waste … taxpayer funds on a pointless and unnecessary buy-back of low risk, legally owned and registered firearms”.

“The papers show the buy-back will target registered firearms that WA Police have already approved for purchase by licensed and law-abiding owners, leading us to question what part (if any) of Police Minister Paul Papalia’s firearms reform package is directed at criminals and the criminal possession of firearms,” James Walsh, SIFA CEO, said.

“This is irrefutable evidence that the WA Labor Government is not interested in targeting criminals and criminal possession of illegal firearms, rather they are going after the law-abiding sporting shooters in an effort to trick the public into thinking they are doing something to combat the out-of-control crime problem in WA,” he said.

Of the funds, the WA Government has allocated up to $63.4 million to buy back firearms that current licence-holders are expected to surrender voluntarily, along with another $8 million of “additional temporary resourcing” to implement and manage the buyback. 

The first $20 million is expected to be spent this financial year, indicating the announcement of the buyback is imminent.

SIFA has previously told Papalia that his new gun laws will have no effect of criminals using firearms, but says the Minister has ignored its advice. 

SIFA also noted that various Australian and overseas studies have found no improvements in public safety nor reductions in gun crime after gun buybacks, despite the costs involved. 

“The West Australian public should rightfully be outraged that their government is wasting $76 million on a program that targets law-abiding people rather than criminals,” Mr Walsh said. 

“This whole plan is nonsense and is a wilful waste of taxpayer funds. 

“Not a single criminal will surrender their gun to be bought back by the state.”




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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.