Firearm licence fee hike to go ahead

REBECCA TRIGGERThe West Australian
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A bid by to prevent price hikes for firearm licences failed to make it across the line in State Parliament last night.

Licence fees increased by up to 147 per cent in July.

Shooters and Fishers party MLC Rick Mazza's disallowance motion to stop the radical fee increase in the upper house was quashed 18 to 12.

Agriculture Minister Ken Baston and the National Party president in the Legislative Council Colin Holt failed to lend support to the bid to stop the fee increase.

Mr Mazza told parliament the gun licensing system in WA was bloated, inefficient and ineffective and said firearm users were treated with contempt because they did not attract public sympathy.

"Imagine a 147 per cent increase in train fares or motor vehicle registrations," he said. "What sort of backlash would there be from the community if that level of fee increase occurred in those costs?"

WAFarmers president Dale Park said he was disappointed at the outcome.

"We're disappointed in both the minister and the Nationals for not supporting it because it's an added impost onto farmers (for what) is really a tool of trade," Mr Park said.

Farmers were bound by codes of practice to euthanize animals by shooting them, and guns were also needed to control vermin, he said.

The really disappointing thing about it is there have been a couple of inquiries that have said there are huge inefficiencies in the whole operation and yet the government seems to think we should pay for those inefficiencies," he said. "We're all for a user pays and that sort of thing but … we don't want to pay for government inefficiencies."

Outside parliament Mr Ken Baston said the licensing system needed to be modernised so that owners, particularly farmers and pastoralists, could be assured they could licence the firearms they needed to run their properties.

“I have a commitment from the Minister for Police that she will undertake a review of the Act on March 1 next year, and that is the opportunity to look at the whole system, not just the fee increase,” Mr Baston said.

Nationals Agricultural MLC, who also failed to support the disallowance motion, said he was concerned by inefficiencies revealed by the a report into the Firearms Amendment Regulations 2013 by the Joint Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation last month.

But he said he saw no need to disallow the fees given a review would address inefficiencies in the system and would likely bring down the fees anyway.

He said the majority of licence renewal fees were only going up by four or five dollars a year, and the 147 per cent cost increase only applied to people adding more guns to an existing licence.

The Nationals issued a statement yesterday throwing their support behind a review of the act.

Mr Mazza said he would also be pushing for the review of the Firearm Act.

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