Firearm licences, PTAs and the registration of guns, clubs and ranges are under review as part of a major assessment of licences in NSW that aims to cut costs and red tape.
The state’s Independent Pricing and Review Tribunal (IPART) aims to identify $750 million in savings for the state, as well as finding licences that are unnecessary, overly burdensome and inefficiently administered.
The IPART review is being bolstered by an online survey about licensing that shooters can complete.
The scope of the review covers not only firearm licences but permits to acquire, registration of firearms, and licensing of clubs and ranges, opening the door for shooters and shooting organisations to put their complaints to an independent panel.
The Shooters and Fishers Party believes it is a good opportunity for shooters.
“SFP welcomes the review of licensing systems in NSW, especially the firearms licence, and we encourage all shooters in the state to make a submission,” the party’s Robert Borsak said.
The SSAA of NSW also sees potential for improved licensing of shooting sports in this review.
“SSAA NSW is currently in the middle of a wide-ranging review of firearms regulations as part of the NSW government’s five-year review,” the organisation’s state executive director, Diana Melham, said.
“The IPART review into all forms of licences in NSW, including firearms licences and PTAs, will present SSAA NSW with another opportunity to push for sensible reforms that allow licensed, law abiding firearm owners to compete in their chosen sport without overbearing regulations.
“As shooters we all know someone that has been turned off the sport by the increased level of bureaucratic red tape, so any opportunity for us to try and lessen the load on licensed, law abiding firearm owners is a welcome opportunity.”
She asked SSAA members to take part in IPART’s online survey to “make sure their voices are heard”.
Specific questions in the IPART survey go to the core of issues that have angered shooters for many years, such as whether “enforcement activities are effective and fair” and whether certain licences could be abolished where broader regulations can be relied upon. The latter situation would apply to PTAs, which do almost nothing a firearm licence doesn’t regulate.
Canada and New Zealand both scrapped their registration regimes for non-restricted firearms after discovering their systems were not only expensive to run but had provided no demonstrable benefit to public safety, and Australian shooters see similar problems with our firearm registries.
Almost 200,000 NSW residents hold firearm licences, while registration covers around 750,000 guns, and thousands of PTAs go through the system every year as new and secondhand firearms change hands.
The costs to the government are high. The state’s registry is estimated to have cost around $1 billion since being established in 1996.
The almost arbitrary powers of police to revoke firearm licences is another area of concern for shooters, with many examples of people being stripped of licences for minor breaches of regulations where no convictions have been made or danger caused, and the only recourse is an expensive appeal through the Administrative Decisions Tribunal.
For a detailed overview of the review, see the explanation provided by IPART.
Shooters can comment on these and other concerns in the online survey being conducted by IPART.
Full submissions can be lodged via IPART’s website. They must be in by 12 December.