Federal Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus, says a national firearms registry is a  will ‘complete’ coverage of illegal gun use.  We explain why it could be a white elephant.

Attorney-General Dreyfus’ wild claim

THERE’S no doubt that if Australia is to have a national firearms registry, then conceptually, that’s not a bad thing.

If the aim is to make information on who owns what firearms in one state or territory is available to police in another, then there is some logic in that.

It’s a bit like enabling police to check the registration of cars that may come from over the border.

That is not to say that registration is a good thing (there are reasons it is not needed), but if we are to have it, then we need it to work efficientlySIFA argues that a national registry will allow industry to move firearms more easily between jurisdictions, which is what they obviously want to see.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus

Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus KC MP

However the current debate over a national firearms registry has something wrong and sinister about it. 

The debate is no longer about sorting out data issues, but adding information that you might not know about.

It’s a narrative being led by our Federal Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus.

History repeating itself

A move to establish a similar registry in the mid-2000’s was the subject to work at national level.

The main impediments were that our various registries have data that fields that are incompatible.  They also have different systems of classification  – and much of the information is inaccurate.  Registries are often out of date: we hear that Queensland data is often 18 months out of date.

In other words, garbage in, garbage out.

While we are aware of efforts in some jurisdictions to clean up the data, we are nowhere near the point where the data can be relied upon. 

Another key issue i that the cost of simply creating that system was estimated to be $100m which was to be borne by licensed shooters

Yet these shooters had already paid for their state based systems.  

The estimate given by the Attorney-General for the proposed new system is $200m.   We seriously doubt that.

A Trojan Horse

DREYFUS’ own media release states:

“Establishment of the Register will enable the connection of firearms information with key risk information for police to act upon. This will include police intelligence, criminal records and other relevant government and court information.

So it’s clear that the proposed register aims to do a lot more than simply link firearms information up. Oddly, this seems to duplicate what CrimTrac does.

CrimTrac is run by the Australian Crime Commission, and is already a central point of coordinating police information – including firearms licences.

The Wikipedia reference to CrimTrac states:

“CrimTrac collects and shares firearm license and registration information between all police agencies and approved external agencies. Police officers responding to an incident can be advised if a person is the registered owner of a firearm. There are more than 4.5 million firearms recorded on the [National Firearms National Firearms Licensing and Registration System]

Supporters of CrimTrac say that the agency “has and continues to deliver on this promise”.

They also say it has “fast, powerful and accurate matching capabilities”.

This raises the question of whether the government is looking to scrap something that works, and replace it with something that might not.

Shooters Union – on the money

The Shooters Union Australia has

Shooters Union Australia President, Graham Park

Graham Park, SUA

had a fair bit to say about the proposed register.  Graham Park, president of SUA, has been in the media that takes a similar approach to us on this.

In news on SUA’s website, Graham says:

“Gun gun law rhetoric in 21st Century Australia has nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with political one-upmanship


“Tough on guns” is a cynical political game

How true. Graham specifically says the proposal will spend hundreds of millions of dollars as a tawdry political game playing at the expense of the taxpayer”.  

We agree – except with one variation.  Who says the cost will go to to the taxpayer?  The previous proposal was to cover the cost by jacking up shooters licence fees.  If the government’s costs blow out (which they will) then you can comfortably expect shooters to pay more than $500 – each.

Costs the Attorney-General didn’t mention

Who pays is more complex than just choosing between shooters and taxpayers.

Government projects are sometimes funded on a “cost recovery” basis.  That is, it means the beneficiaries of a proposal should pay for that proposal rather than expect taxpayers to do so.  

As a shooter, I can’t see what benefit there is in the proposal for me.  Interstate police can already get information on my firearms licence through CrimTrac.

Yet the Attorney-General’s proposal not only duplicates that, but brings in criminal, court and ‘other’ government information that has nothing to do with 99% of us out there.  Surely if the beneficiary pays, then apart from SIFA who want to smooth the way for interstate trade, the is no basis for sheeting the cost back to shooters.

Those of you old enough to remember, will recall the buyback of 1996 was funded by a 1.7% surcharge on the Medicare levy.  

We’d lay money on this being unpopular with taxpayers facing cost-of-living pressures, which will tell you something about whether the registry really is actually – or another white elephant.

No. The cost needs to be paid by Dreyfus out of his other programs. Either that, or by the criminals that it aims to catch.

EXCLUSIVE: Live podcast Sat 16 December

Starting THIS WEEK, we’re going to try our hand at a live podcast.

The topic will be the resignation of Anastasia Palaszczuk as Queensland Premier – who is now the fourth Labor leader who closed our gun shops down during COVID to have since resigned.

SUBSCRIBERS to Politics Reloaded have been invited to participate in the podcast which include the ability to ‘call in’ to the show.  That means they can comment on the show, ask a question – or simply have a gripe about something!

It will also be broadcast on our Facebook and YouTube channels (with X/Twitter to follow soon) – but if you want a front row seat, then make sure you become a subscriber

Why not put this on your club’s noticeboard? 

Attorney-General's proposal will be covered on our podcast

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