The federal government is refusing to take advice from its own appointed firearm experts as it appears to be heading down a path of tougher gun laws.
Minister for Home Affairs Jason Clare is ignoring the Commonwealth Firearms Advisory Council, infuriating shooting representatives who cannot get so much as a response from him.
He has not directly consulted with the CFAC, has not answered queries and has not even acknowledged that he has received its resolutions, let alone shown any sign of acting on them.
Members of the CFAC have stopped short of walking away from the process, but they are united in their anger at being sidelined by the minister while he has been meeting with state police ministers behind closed doors.
Two weeks ago, they fired off a letter to Mr Clare asking for clarification of the situation but have had no answer.
“It has certainly reached the point where action is required,” committee member Samara McPhedron said.
“He has not engaged at all with his own advisory council.
“We now have a minister who in recent months has made a number of pronouncements around firearm management and yet he’s been making those announcements with absolutely no engagement with us and he’s done absolutely no consultation with the firearms community.
“It’s looking increasingly like the minister just wants us there as window dressing so that he can claim he is consulting when in reality he is not doing anything of that nature,” she said.
Doug Shupe, another CFAC member, said the most recent letter they’d sent to the minister had gone by regular post so as to avoid the secretariat. It appears shooters have lost trust in the people involved.
“The chairman of the committee has difficulty seeing the minister,” Mr Shupe said. “The minders keep him at a distance.”
He said the CFAC had done all the work expected of it, but that seems to be the end of the matter.
“We were given a backlog of things to offer recommendations and resolutions on. We tackled them and approach them in a businesslike manner and worked our way through them and did them as quickly and effectively as we could,” he said.
“When we finished with them we expected some sort of formal response.”
Mr Clare recently stood with state police ministers to announce that they were getting tough on gun crime, and tried to reassure law-abiding firearm owners by adding, “None of the reforms that we've agreed to today are designed to target or make life more difficult for legitimate, registered firearm owners.”
That comment is looking increasingly hollow, and the situation is deeply worrying to Shupe.
“It’s mind-blowing what democracy has come to mean,” he said. “What democratic societies have these clandestine meetings with police ministers to figure out ways to enact more regressive legislation on the law-abiding population when they can’t control crime?”
“Everyone needs to insist that our voice is heard and the government does not only listen to the Greens.
"Consequently, the law-abiding firearm community must individually speak up in mass by emailing, phoning and or writing to Minister Clare."
Communications should express your concern and ask:
- What he intends to do about the council’s resolutions
- If he intends to continue the council
- If he has confidence in the council
- If he wishes to meet with the council
- What his future plans are for the council.
Sporting Shooter contacted the minister’s office but has not yet received a response.