Mr PERRETT (Gympie—LNP) (3.31 pm): I rise to speak on the Police Legislation (Efficiencies
and Effectiveness) Amendment Bill. The bill’s policy objectives are to improve the delivery of policing
services, increase productivity and free up valuable time for the front line. This is expected to be
achieved by reducing administration, improving existing systems and processes, and improving the
detection, prevention and disruption of crime. The explanatory notes state—
To address demand issues and increase frontline effectiveness, the QPS needs to optimise existing systems and processes to
free up frontline resources. This involves modernising practices and service delivery, and enhancing the use of modern
technology in delivering policing services. The cumulative effect of the measures outlined below, is to assist the QPS to deliver
policing services more efficiently and effectively.
These goals will be addressed through amendments such as authorising police officers to witness
specified affidavits, amending access orders for seized digital services, amending matters relating to
testing police officers and unsworn staff, and addressing weapons issues.
Without doubt, police face increasing demands from complex social issues, disaster
management and changing community expectations. For the past two years, police resources and
personnel have been diverted to deal with government policies regarding COVID-19, such as manning
the border and some of the increasingly inconsistent and contradictory rules. Many communities do not
have sufficient police resources to adequately address the required workload, let alone be proactive. I
am not criticising the police; it is a reality of what is available. In Gympie we need additional police and
resources in the Mary Valley, at Imbil Police Station and at Rainbow Beach where the police station
operates from underneath a house. If the minister wants to improve the delivery of police services in
Gympie then he should urgently address those concerns. He should not fob them off with the excuse
that he has no say in the matter.
One of the most frequent issues I deal with in my office is that of firearms. Many landholders and
primary producers use firearms to deal with feral animals and pests such as wild dogs and pigs, to
protect crops and to humanely euthanase animals. Firearms are a tool of trade. It is unconscionable
that primary producers must jump through manufactured hoops to continue to use those tools of trade.
The Weapons Licensing branch is underperforming and failing everyone it should service. On numerous
occasions I have raised issues in the media, in the parliament and with the minister. The minister’s
default response is to flippantly dismiss those concerns. State government manufactured delays and
excuses have made dealing with Weapons Licensing a nightmare for law-abiding firearm owners.
Paperwork is frequently lost, addresses are mixed up, delays are unreasonable, requests for further
information never arrive and paperwork that is self-explanatory is ignored.
I had personal experience of this when renewing a weapons licence. I had seven days to meet a
request for further information. Within two days I supplied the information via registered post. Despite
that, Weapons Licensing rang me to say that it was not provided and they would assess the renewal
on the original application. Thankfully I had the Australia Post receipt and the time it was delivered and accepted. Eventually, Weapons Licensing reluctantly admitted they had made an error. The term
‘further information’ is often a cover for the fact that nothing is being processed. I have seen cases
where applicants have clear evidence that further information was provided and were advised that their
application was being processed, only to receive another request that the same information was needed
again. The minister says that Weapons Licensing requires the same medical reporting conditions as for
a driver’s licence. Despite that, I have been advised that a licence renewal was denied because the
firearm owner had postnatal depression 15 years earlier. Two applicants were refused because they
had diabetes. One licence holder who fell down the stairs had to prove that it was because his bifocal
lenses were incorrect. He had held a licence since 1990.
The government cannot even properly implement a permanent national amnesty. Three years
ago Australian ministers agreed on a permanent national firearms amnesty. It was too much for the
government to deal with. All it did was add more paperwork to licence dealers who are trying to do the
right thing. The explanatory notes say that this process places unnecessary operational burdens on
local police stations, many of which are in regional or remote communities with small staffing
establishments, so now we have amendments to try to make it work. That admission proves that the
government has failed firearm owners, it has failed dealers, it has failed local police and it has failed
There have been problems within the Weapons Licensing branch for years. The ability of staff to
deliver the necessary services is continually eroded. Applicants face excessive delays for what should
be routine applications. Applications could be handled in a timely manner but applicants are being done
over by a bureaucracy that does not want to make things easy. Since 2020 they have used COVID as
an excuse for slow processing, restricted contact times and branch staff working from home with highly
sensitive information. The branch did not even operate every day. They have admitted that there was
a massive backlog that we are told will be fixed with amendments extending the time frame that a
licensed person can temporarily hold a weapon on behalf of another from three to six months. This
amendment proves that the Weapons Licensing branch is not delivering. It is an admission that the
branch does not have the resources, the personnel or the funding to deal with the workload. You pay a
fee for the service which presumably is to cover the cost, so the branch should be adequately resourced.
The President of Shooters Union Queensland, Graham Park, told the committee—
However, we are deeply concerned that the reason this is being introduced is that the Weapons Licensing Branch are so far behind in the processing of licensing. They are literally months behind any other state in Australia. You can get licence applications processed anywhere from two to 12 weeks around the country. By their own statements, the weapons branch is not even beginning to look at processing an application until at least 20 weeks after it is submitted.
Queensland is months behind states that have been more severely impacted by COVID, which
proves that COVID is not the reason; it is simply an excuse. Mr Park also highlighted the lack of
expertise in the branch, saying—
We believe that there is simply not the expertise within the weapons branch to cover all of those. That is not criticism; that is a fact.
It does not matter if you already own a firearm or have a licence; the delays in getting a licence,
renewing a licence or obtaining a permit to acquire are ridiculous. Processing paperwork should be a
relatively straightforward process, but the turnaround time is unacceptable. If an application is made in
July, the applicant is lucky if their request is dealt with before the next year, let alone by Christmas. In
one case an applicant was told to wait 15 to 20 weeks—that is, four to five months—before his
application was dealt with, which was 12 weeks after he had already applied for a permit to acquire and
a new license. That makes it somewhere between 27 and 32 weeks or an eight-month turnaround.
The government constantly demonises firearm owners and the industry. In 2020 the police
minister and the agriculture minister could not close gun shops quickly enough. They used the cloak of
COVID-19 to unilaterally close licensed dealers and armourers. They gave no notice to farmers, primary
producers or affected businesses.
Mr RYAN: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order relating not only to misleading the
House; I also find it personally offensive and I ask the member to withdraw.
Mr PERRETT: I withdraw. The minister did not know that those in agriculture and pest control—
Government members interjected.
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms Bush): Order, members! Direct your comments through the
Mr PERRETT: The minister did not know that those in agriculture and pest control industries need
firearms to manage properties and operate their own businesses.
Mr RYAN: Madam Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. It is continuing on the same matter.
I find it offensive and it is also misleading. I ask for it to be withdrawnMr Mander interjected.
Mr RYAN: And the bully over there.
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for Everton, you are warned under the standing orders
for that comment.
Mr POWELL: Madam Deputy Speaker—
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: I will have you pause for a moment while I deal with the point of
order here, member for Glass House. If you take your seat, I will deal with this point of order first.
Member, the minister is taking offence. I ask that you withdraw.
Mr PERRETT: I withdraw.
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you. Member for Glass House?
Mr POWELL: Madam Deputy Speaker, the minister keeps referring to ‘misleading statements’.
The minister knows the process. If the comments are misleading, there are processes for that. It is not
a point of order.
Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you. Yes, I will remind the minister that he can write to the
Speaker on that.
Mr PERRETT: The minister should own up to the failings of the Weapons Licensing branch and
ensure that proper resourcing is allocated to address the serious shortcomings. It is important that these
amendments are not simply to massage statistics on performance and meeting service delivery
obligations by extending delivery time lines. The big question is: what does the government think is a
reasonable service within a reasonable time frame? A properly resourced and efficient weapons
licensing system is critical to the proper management of firearms. The government must ensure the
system works. I support the amendments.