News Desk

Northern Territory’s restriction on interstate license holders lifted.


In January this year, the Firearms Policy and Recording Unit (FPRU) of NT Police advised all NT firearms dealers, that after a review of the Act, they were no longer able to sell ammunition, to those in possession of another jurisdictional firearms license.  

Specifically, NT Police highlighted section 68A of the Firearms Act 1997 (the Act) that requires the purchaser of the ammunition being “the holder of a licence for a category of firearm that takes the ammunition…”, with Licence being defined in the Act, meaning “a licence granted under Part 3” (of the Act). 

Further the advice stated that a licence granted under Part 3 of the Act does not include an interstate licence, (and) it only refers to Northern Territory firearms licences. 

Effectively, this new interpretation by FPRU put an immediate stop on those who were travelling to the top end for competitive shooting events or hunting tourism, from being able to purchase ammunition on arrival. 

A working party was formed consisting of Bart Irwin (Field and Game), Nigel Scullion (Former Senator) and Darryl Yesberg (Coolalinga Guns and Ammo) and SIFA.  

Several representations were made to the NT Police Minister highlighting that the ‘new’ interpretation of the act goes against the NFA and is inconsistent with the rest of Australia. 

It was further highlighted that on the original introduction of the 1997 Firearms Act (26th of November 1996), the second reading speech to the Northern Territory legislative assembly by Minister Reed, then Deputy Chief Minister, it was explicitly confirmed that the introduction of the new provisions of the Act would recognise interstate licence holders and the mutual recognition of the rights of those licence holders. 

After a 6-month battle, we are pleased to report that commonsense has been restored in the NT! In advice provided by the FPRU on Tuesday 18th June 2024, it states: 

“The Commissioner has issued a temporary exemption to allow interstate firearms licence holders to purchase and possess ammunition in the Northern Territory under certain conditions.

A person who hold a corresponding category A, B , C or H licence who is in the NT to attend an approved shooting competition, and intends to be in the NT for less than 3 months, may purchase ammunition providing; 

  1. The ammunition is only used by the person;  
  2. The ammunition, if used in the NT, is only used while participating in an approved shooting competition;  
  3. and When purchasing the ammunition, the person presents evidence of their participation in the approved shooting competition. 

A person who holds a corresponding category A or B licence, who intends to be in the NT for less than 3 months, may purchase ammunition providing; 

  1. The ammunition is only used by the person; 
  2. The ammunition, if used within the NT, is only used for the purpose for which the person is authorised to possess or use the firearm in the State or Territory that issued the corresponding licence; and 
  3. When purchasing ammunition the person presents evidence of their firearms licence in force under a law of a State or other Territory. 

Those selling ammunition obviously need to sight the purchaser’s licence, ensure that it is not expired and only sell ammunition that is relevant to the category of licence they hold.” 

Whilst this is only a temporary fix, it is pleasing to note that the working group’s preference of a change to the Act has also been listened to, with FPRU stating: 

 “If the Firearms Act 1997 has not been amended to allow for this to occur before the exemption expires on 31 January 2025, I will apply for a renewal.  This issue will be rectified in the Act once we get the opportunity to make further amendments which will then expressly allow for this activity to occur”. 

Regardless of how it has come together, this is a win, and we will take it! Commonsense has been restored in the NT!  

We are still working to fix an issue with PTA’s, which involves a strange interpretation of the differences between what constitutes a ‘good reason’ and ‘genuine reason’ to purchase a firearm, however, we are hoping that further commonsense will prevail here as well.  

SIFA would like to acknowledge Bart Irwin, Nigel Scullion and Darryl Yesberg for their work on the ground, and their resolve in addressing these issues.  

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