UPDATES: WA & Victorian legal actions
11 August 2020|Gun shops, Legal actions, Reclassification
THE NSC’S LEGAL ACTIONS to protect shooters, dealers and our sport continue - with two more directions hearings being held in recent days.
WA RECLASSIFICATION ACTION
As you will be aware the NSC filed two new cases in the WA State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) in late June on WAPol’s decision to reclassify several firearms.
At the directions hearing on 31 July, WAPol argued that the SAT does not have jurisdiction to hear the matter. It cited a previous case heard in the SAT to support its case; however, we believe that case does not apply. The SAT has called for written submissions from us and WAPOL and a further hearing has been scheduled.
While the WA Firearm Traders Association and SSAA WA have decided not to support the fight to keep our guns, the great news is that our fight in WA remains alive. The other bit of good news is that another private individual shooter in WA has started his action, so we’ll work with him – even if others won’t.
PREVIOUS WA / QLD GUN SHOP ACTIONS
Our previous WA action on gun shop closures and WAPol’s refusal to issue Licences in the SAT has come to a close. As WAPOL issued our applicant his licence to acquire the guns he was waiting for, the SAT ruled it could only order that WAPOL reconsider its earlier refusal: it did not have the jurisdiction to look at ‘blame’.
What we did manage to do though, is to get WAPol to cover some of our legal costs for the case.
In QLD the QCAT Registrar made a similar ruling. Whilst we did not expect to win every case, the publicity and media coverage the cases generated placed the governments in a position where they were under great pressure to reopen their state’s gun shops, so we believe the proceedings were worthwhile.
However, our legal action in Victoria continues because of the way Victoria Police went about closing our gun shops down - and the fight is about to heat up.
VIC GUN SHOP ACTION
The Victorian action has involved three hearings at the Firearms Appeals Committee and many, many hours of work for the NSC executive and our barrister.
VicPol previously tried to shut our action down on the basis of how our appeal was filed. They failed. They argued that the Firearms Appeals Committee does not have jurisdiction to hear the appeal. Again, they failed.
VicPol are now calling the reason why the FAC exists into question, in their latest attempt to stop our appeal being heard. Last Wednesday (5th August) the FAC conducted a 3 hour hearing to hear the arguments from both sides. It will consider the submissions and announce its decision in writing by the end of August.
FUTURE OF APPEAL RIGHTS IN VIC RESTS ON THIS CASE
It is vital that dealers in shooters have a right of appeal against decisions that adversely affect them. Where and how these rights might be heard vary among the jurisdictions but in Victoria, the FAC has long been where appeals in that state are heard.
Historically the FAC has dealt with individual licensing matters, with VicPol often reaching some sort of settlement “out of court” like it did recently with Geelong dealer Rod Haugh, that we reported on. However this case is different as it tests the FAC’s jurisdiction in a case that affects every dealer and where VicPol clearly have a lot riding on this.
If the FAC rules that it does not have jurisdiction to hear our appeal, then this would, in our view, defeat the reason why the FAC exists, and so the very future of the FAC could hang off this decision. A case like this has never happened before in Victoria, so the outcome is likely to set a legal precedent on the future of the FAC.
Thank you to all our members and supporters on behalf of the NSC executive Committee for your support. We will continue the fight for fair treatment and a better deal and will fight all the way and as hard as we can.
We’ll be back in a couple of weeks time, hopefully with some good news in Victoria. The fight continues.
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