THE Queensland Government’s spiteful war on struggling businesses must end today, according to one of the country’s peak lobby groups.
In March, the state’s Chief Health Officer issued an order closing every gun shop and armourer in the state as part of the COVID-19 response. Following intense pressure and from industry, agricultural and rural representatives, that was amended a few days later to allow rural landowners and volunteer pest controllers to buy ammunition and reloading components, but still prevented target shooters, recreational hunters, and competition pistol shooters from buying ammunition or using police-issued Permits To Acquire for firearms.
Shooters Union Australia president Graham Park said with the notoriously anti-gun Western Australia now having lifted their trade restrictions and Victoria – also helmed by a Labor premier – having followed soon after, Queensland had no excuse to keep preventing licensed shooters from buying ammunition or vital equipment.
“There is no – I repeat: absolutely none whatsoever – public health emergency justification for restricting the trade of licensed gun shops and armourers in Queensland or anywhere else, for that matter. There wasn’t one at the start of this mess and there isn’t one now,” he said.
“It is obviously a political move; only the Labor state governments restricted gun shop trading. The decision was not an outcome of the formal National Cabinet meetings, from what we understand.
“The home confinement directions have largely been lifted, outdoor shooting ranges are open again while exercising social distancing, and non-essential retail shopping is expressly permitted - so why are Queensland’s shooters and associated businesses being punished?”
The toll on affected businesses from the trade restrictions was enormous, Mr Park said, with a number of gun shops facing financial ruin from having their livelihoods yanked out underneath them without any justification.
“These were viable local businesses, an important part of their community, and shut down because someone in Brisbane doesn’t like guns and decided to take advantage of a crisis to further their own agenda,” he said.
“Every hour Queensland’s gun shops and armourers remain restricted in trade just adds to the mountain of proof this decision has been made to hurt law-abiding firearms owners and the businesses supporting them.”
Mr Park blasted the State Government’s refusal to justify themselves on the restrictions and said they needed to be held to account.
“We have not received a single response to any of the numerous letters and e-mails we have sent the Premier, and the only response we have received from the Chief Health Officer’s office was clearly written by a staffer and reiterated the changes allowing rural landowners and volunteer pest controllers to buy ammunition – changes we helped negotiate in the first place.
“The contempt the Palaszczuk Government has shown to Queensland’s law-abiding shooting community is simply incredible.
“They haven’t even given us the courtesy of an obvious and half-baked lie as to why they’ve done it – we’ve heard absolutely nothing.
“We guarantee there will be consequences at the ballot box in October for the way Queensland shooters have been treated by the ALP. We’re going to make sure of it.”