Commonsense prevails in Customs Prohibited Imports Regulations changes

A win for commonsense is how SSAA National CEO Tim Bannister has described recent Customs regulations improvements that came into place this month, with the changes first discussed as part of the previous Federal Labor Government’s Commonwealth Firearms Advisory Council. Former SSAA National President Bob Green and Tim were key members of the now-defunct council.

The improvements to the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956 - Firearms and Weapons Regulations includes cuts to red tape for the firearms industry, in particular wholesalers and importers, as well as the sporting shooter and hunter going on overseas hunting trips or to compete in international shooting competitions. Key changes include one permit for travelling to and from Australia with a firearm, along with firearms on import/export only requiring serial numbers to be checked on an at-risk basis. Adjustable, detachable and folding stocks are now defined as a ‘firearm part’ rather than an accessory, changing the required import tests.

For those who appreciate using a one-handed opening knife, these knives are no longer subject to the controversial ‘flick-knife test’, which previously categorised many folding knives as ‘spring-assisted’. For the wholesaler, permits to import have been streamlined so that storage of certain category firearms falls back to the responsibility of the importer rather than Customs.

Robert Nioa, managing director of Nioa, the largest firearms importer in Australia, said Customs has been “really proactive” and “great to work with” throughout the review. “We have been working with Customs on these changes for at least the last six years now, so it’s great to see these changes finally brought in,” he said. “Customs have been really proactive in finding ways to reduce red tape and they are happy to talk about further changes too. It would be great if the Attorney-General’s Department could follow Customs lead in term of reducing red tape.”

In addition, various importation regulations for distributors of defence materiel are now controlled under new items, with some items now available to be imported without a permit.

“These improvements have been a long time in the making and we congratulate the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Australian Government for coming through on their promise of cutting red tape, this time for the benefit of the firearms industry and the sporting shooter and hunter,” said Tim.

“We need to see more of this kind of commonsense and consultative approach from our public servants and political leaders, and if the same approach is used regarding the review of the National Firearms Agreement, we would be in a better place.

“In fact, one of the recommendations regarding the establishment of the NFA review was for a cutting of red tape in the governance of firearms. We will continue to work with the government as the review continues, to ensure our members’ chosen pastime is not further hindered.”

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