The Shooting Industry Foundation of Australia (SIFA) welcomes the recent announcement of an independent review into the NSW Firearms Registry.
We would also like to acknowledge and thank the NSW Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party for their efforts in securing this very important initiative.
Over the last few years, the industry and a range of other stakeholders have expressed growing concerns with the performance and processes of the NSW Firearms Registry.
SIFA shared those concerns, which led us to make countless representations to a succession of Police Commissioners and Police Ministers on behalf of the Australian shooting industry.
Criticisms of the NSW Firearms Registry that have been represented, and which desperately need to be considered by the review, include:
- Disrespecting NSW’s commitment to uniform national gun laws by tolerating parochial attitudes and showing a propensity to “go it alone”.
- Failing to fully embrace the principles espoused by the NSW Department of Customer Service, and the core public sector values of integrity, trust, service and accountability.
- Demonstrating a culture and attitude towards NSW firearm dealers and shooters which could be argued as meeting Safe Work NSW’s definition of bullying (aggressive and intimidating behavior, unjustified criticism, withholding information, etc.).
- Substandard communication with industry and inexcusable delays in responding to legitimate concerns and representations from industry.
- Dismissing out of hand expert reports prepared by industry to assist regulators to understand technical considerations and to inform proper decision making.
- Exploiting poorly drafted regulations to arrive at interpretations which are inconsistent with the objects of those provisions, and not in keeping with their original intent.
- The absence of genuine consultation and the overt bias of the NSW Firearms Registry Consultative Council towards matters of interest only to law enforcement.
- An aversion to procedural fairness, and natural justice in FAR decision-making processes, coupled with a lack of transparency when permits are refused.
- The deliberate use of regulatory provisions which preclude external tribunal appeal mechanisms, leaving industry with the only option of extremely expensive Supreme Court litigation.
- A substandard customer service experience resulting in extensive delays in the issuing of routine permits and licenses, which has commercial implications for business.
- A willingness to bring forward and promote poorly considered proposals for regulatory change which lack supporting data and ignore many of the obvious and readily available options to address the stated concern.
- The diversion of responsibility and accountability for the John Edwards murder/suicide from at fault FAR staff to licensed and law-abiding shooters.
As an industry that relies upon efficient and effective regulation in order to trade, SIFA would argue that the NSW registry is failing when measured against the key regulatory metrics of Transparency, Accountability, and Impact.
The NSW Firearms Registry needs to put public safety first, second and third by focusing on the criminal misuse of firearms rather than the administration of the law abiding.
As a regulator, the registry must also consider the impacts of its decision making and constant policy changes upon a legitimate industry which enjoys a very strong compliance record and is willfully compliant.
SIFA has developed a position statement “Firearms Regulation and Regulator Performance”, that details what we expect from those who regulate our industry. The key messaging of our position has been developed using a best practice approach and is essential to allowing our industry to play its legitimate (and legislated) role in civil society.
Throughout the review, SIFA will make ourselves available to represent the issues experienced and ongoing concerns of all stakeholders in the Australian shooting industry.