The Shooters & Fishers Party has welcomed the news thatthe long-awaited audit into the NSW Government’s maligned Firearms Registrywill now take place.
Minister for Police and Emergency Services Michael Gallacherannounced at the end of last week that an independent auditor will look at theRegistry’s operations with the results expected within the next two months,although there is no indication it might be abolished as a result.
“We’d like to wipe the thing out completely. It’s a failedparadigm,” Shooters & Fishers Party MLC Robert Borsak told SportingShooter.
Mr Borsak said that the Registry had been compromisedthrough poor administration by NSW police that saw gun owner details placed onan unsecure intranet and fears that information has fallen into criminal hands.He, along with the SFP, has been calling for an independent audit into the government-imposedregistry that was started in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre.
“It’s been managed by police who know nothing about systemsfor controlling data,” Mr Borsak said. “I can’t say the government has acceptedthat, so what they’ve agreed to do is to bring in an external review to audit.”
Mr Gallacher said the audit would examine whether theRegistry’s operations are efficient and effective and align with itslegislative and regulatory responsibilities.
“We want to ensure the NSW Firearms Registry is meetingcommunity expectations with specific regard to public safety, and customerservice,” Mr Gallacher said in a media release.
“In consultation with firearm owners and stakeholders, we’vebeen told there is a clear need for the firearm licencing regime to bemodernised and updated to include the latest technology.
“The review will examine the creation of a new ‘Smart Card’Firearms Licence regime that better secures personal information andstreamlines the process for acquiring firearms and ammunition.
“$5 million investment is ear marked for the creation of a‘Smart Card’ licencing system to ensure that firearms, ammunition andaccessories are only available to those with a legitimate need to possess them.
“The proposed new ‘Smart Card’ will protect owner details,and ensure that legitimate reasons for purchasing firearms and ammunitions areeasily established at the point of sale, helping to keep illegal guns andammunition of our streets.
“It will also free up valuable police time taken upperforming time consuming inspections of record books held by firearms dealersby placing all information on-line for police use.”
Mr Borsak said that while the principle of a smart cardwould see a reduction in paperwork the current process is mired in, it was notthe answer.
“This business of $5million for a smart card system will notfix the problems with the Firearms Registry,” he said.
“The idea came about at the time of the ammo bill last yearto make life easier because the whole thing is bogged down in paperwork. Weknow that they are dealing with 100 Permit to Acquire (PTA) applications a dayand the whole thing is a mess.
“The best case scenario is for the Firearms Registry to betaken out of the direct control of the police and it should be handed over tosomeone like the RMS.”
Whether or not that will happen will depend on the outcomeof the audit, although Mr Borsak said that the SFP was keeping its powder drywhile waiting for its findings.
“We’ll reserve our judgement about whether or not we agreewith the outcome until we see the review,” he said.
“We don’t expect that we’ll be treated in the same fashionas we were by (NSW Premier Barry) O’Farrell in relation to the Game Council. Wethink Minister Gallacher is a man of his word and we have every confidence hewill deal fairly with us, unlike the Premier.”