With recent news that Bill Byrne MP has been moved on as Queensland Police Minister, we took some time out to ask some questions of the new Minister Mark Ryan.
Dear Minister Ryan,
Congratulations on your appointment as Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services. The discharge of your office directly impacts the maintenance and enforcement of the laws of the State.
Primary producers play a vital role in this State’s economy. Farmers often work on vast properties alongside invasive species. The Queensland Department of Agriculture acknowledges:
Feral pigs alone have been estimated to reduce grain production by $12 million a year.
Wild dogs cost $33 million a year in livestock losses, diseases spread and control.
Negative environmental impacts include direct predation on native fauna – foxes and feral cats have been implicated in the decline or extinction of at least 17 native species.
The geographical and human scale of the problem of invasive species and the difficulties in minimising their impact is simply enormous. The challenge to farmers is great. They rely on tools that are compact, reliable and safe to transport.
Unfortunately, the previous Police Minister took a very public position against farmers using pistols as a tool in pest control, likening them to ‘cowboys’. The Queensland Police Service Weapons Licensing Branch has taken a similarly strong position.
I write to raise this as a matter of great concern regarding the administration of the Weapons Act 1990, which plainly provides for the occupational use of pistols – including by farmers and the pest controllers who work with them.
Documents from the Weapons Licensing Branch itself reveal it has relied on some strong tactics. I’ve written publicly about their behaviour towards applicants and about their strained interpretation of CSIRO reports and the QPS’ own use of pistols to euthanize animals. I’ve even invited their comment.
Additionally, I understand that a wide range of national Standard Operating Procedures on pest destruction were recently updated to put it beyond any doubt that pistols are not unsuitable for pest destruction.
There is a great deal of evidence that the occupational needs of farmers are real. I’ve seen a variety of material sent to applicants from those sitting in the air-conditioning of a Charlotte Street office in the Brisbane CBD. It reveals a very negative attitude to the real needs of farmers in this area.
Questions for you
- Is your office aware that a number of National Standard Operating Procedures, maintained by a joint Commonwealth-State Cooperative Research Centres Program, were this year updated to put it beyond any doubt that pistols are not inherently unsuitable for pest destruction?
- Is the Weapons Licensing Branch aware of this?
- What is your attitude towards farmers and pest controllers attempting to deal with the invasive species challenge using pistols as a legitimate tool?
- How many applications or renewals for occupational use of pistols in primary production or pest control have been refused by the Branch in the last four years (year by year, if you please) and what steps will you take on this issue?
Thank you in advance for your time and attention to this important issue.
Written by A. Stanway