The Australian Country Party supports Government and police in eradicating illegal firearms from the community and eliminating illegal firearm usage. However, we will staunchly defend the legal rights of licensed firearm owners.
The issues of legally held firearms by law-abiding citizens and the criminal misuse of firearms must be separated, as they are indeed separate issues. By far the majority of firearm owners are law-abiding. Police have the powers and responsibility to deal with those who break the law and we support the increase of penalties for firearm theft and illegal use of firearms, particularly in the commission of a crime.
Safe firearm storage and proper licensing is a responsibility of firearm owners, however, we will support any changes that relieve the burden of red tape that is unnecessary and does not contribute to the safety of the community.
A review of the current firearms categories is overdue. Under certain circumstances such as genuine need, we support the reclassification of sporting self-loading firearms that have a long history in Australia to Category B. We also see the advantages of sound moderators fitted to firearms to reduce the incidence of permanent hearing damage in our youth and adult shooting population. Reputable associations such as the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia and Field & Game Australia are groups which advise us on matters in respect of firearms issues.
Access to lands
We support the reclassification of some National Parks to increase access to bush user groups such as hunters, prospectors, members of four-wheel drive groups, motorcycle, hiking and horse-riding groups or individuals to share our natural assets. The Australian Country Party does not support the creation of new National Parks that will further reduce access to the community.
The Australian Country Party does not support legislative changes to further restrict access to land for hunting and shooting.
Recreational hunting and pest control
Tens of thousands of Australians enjoy recreational hunting every week. The hunters who assist government departments at no charge should be commended for their community support with pest control and management.
Firearms and farming
The Australian Country Party views the use of firearms by farmers as standard farming practice. Farmers have learned over generations how to manage their stock and pests and the government needs not be overly intrusive or apprehensive. Primary producers should have access to self-loading firearms without undue scrutiny and red tape.
The Australian Country Party fully supports and encourages sports and competition shooting. Australia has a long history of training Olympic and world champions. Competition and sports shooting organisations provide excellent discipline and training for athletes and promote the safe handling and use of firearms.
Sports shooting is well represented by both disabled and able-bodied athletes regardless of gender or physical limitations. Competitive shooting has been proved to be a safe and enjoyable recreational pastime for thousands of Australians. Shooting groups are uniquely positioned to assist government in policy development by providing expert and fact-based knowledge and experience.
The Australian Country Party supports the right of licensed collectors aligned to police-approved societies or guilds to collect, preserve, restore and display antique historical firearms and firearm-related equipment and paraphernalia.