Shooter fury on fee rise

12 March 2008
By Peter Mickelburough

Shooters want cheaper licences but have slammed a State Government plan to restructure costs.

The Government's changes would cut some fees, while junior licence fees would more than double and dealer charges would rise seven-fold.

Combined Firearms Council state president Bill Paterson said the changes would discourage young people taking up the sport and drive many small dealers, particularly in regional areas, out of business.

Mr Paterson said recent savings in the licensing and registration process should be passed on to all shooters.

Under the Department of Justice proposal, total revenue from firearm fees would rise slightly but be redistributed.

Cuts of 5-35 per cent to rifle, shotgun and antique collectors' licences would be funded by other rises, including a 239 per cent jump from $9 to $30.50 in the fee to buy a long-arm.

Pistol licences for sport or target shooting will almost double from $148 to $293.

Junior fees will jump 138 per cent from $39 to $94, and dealer licences will jump by up to 647 per cent, from $965 to $7208.

"Many small dealers exist either as a part-time business or to assist clubs. Imagine what these fees will do to them," Mr Paterson said.

"They will need to turnover $50,000 of stock just to pay the licence fee."

Opposition police spokesman Andrew McIntosh said as many as 60 per cent of dealers could fold.

He said the fees were meant to more closely match the cost of providing licences.

"But if that is the case we must have the most antiquated, out-of-date and expensive licensing regime in this country," he said.

Mr McIntosh said the fee for a dealers' licence was $1500 in the next most expensive state, South Australia, $500 in NSW and $143 in Queensland.

Mr Paterson said improved productivity could fund an 11 per cent cut to all licence fees.

"We understand, for example, that the introduction of a new online computer system will save about $1 million in costs, which are savings that should flow back to shooters while improving the accuracy of licensing and registration data," he said.

He said the Government must deliver a more realistic structure that made the system more efficient and effective.

Public statements on a regulatory impact statement released by the department last month close on Monday.

A spokesman for Police Minister Bob Cameron referred the Herald Sun to the department, which said: "We encourage all interested parties to voice their views. The Government values the input of the VFCC (Victorian Firearms Consultative Committee) and will consider all submissions closely."

This article can be found in The Herald Sun online - Wednesday, 12 March 2008.

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