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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 305 asked in the Legislative Council on 1 April 2020 by Hon Robin Scott

Minister responding: Hon M.H. Roberts
Parliament: 40 Session: 1

Answered on 1 April 2020

FIREARMS — FERAL ANIMALS

305. Hon ROBIN SCOTT to the minister representing the Minister for Police:

Current firearms legislation requires pastoralists to use a small .22 calibre rounds to bring down a feral camel. Pastoralists have advised me that many rounds are required to bring down a camel and that it is very difficult to bring down a herd with the current restrictions.

(1) Does the minister believe that it is ethical to use a small .22 calibre round on a camel and that doing so is consistent with principles around protecting animal welfare?

(2) Considering that WA police officers carry firearms that have larger nine-millimetre rounds, why is it lawful for those rounds, which might be used on humans, to be unlawful when used on a camel?

(3) Is the government considering reforming firearms legislation so that pastoralists can more ethically eradicate large feral animals on their property?

The PRESIDENT: I will give the call to the Minister for Environment shortly, but I will say, member, that your question is an interesting mix of seeking an opinion and asking some questions. Therefore, I am sure that the minister will have an appropriate response to the parts that he can reply to in accordance with the standing orders, if that is some help.

Hon STEPHEN DAWSON replied:

Thank you very much, Madam President. I thank the honourable member for some notice of the question. The following answer has been provided to me by the Minister for Police and, as ever, is very helpful.

In relation to the member's preamble, all community members are called on to adhere to the requirements that police are enforcing. Some charges have already been laid and the enforcement effort is increasing. In response to the member's question, the Western Australia Police Force advise the following.

(1) The Firearms Act 1973 does not require a pastoralist to use a small .22 calibre round to bring down a feral camel. The Firearms Act 1973 provides that in the process of licensing, a person needs to demonstrate a ''genuine reason'' and ''genuine need'' for a particular firearm, which is outlined in sections 11A and 11B of the Firearms Act 1973. Through the firearms assessment process, if it were stated that a .22 calibre firearm would be used to shoot camels, the application would be declined. The firearm is not suitable for that purpose and would also contravene the Animal Welfare Act 2002. The use of such a firearm type would be unethical.

(2) Police would not use a handgun, described as nine millimetres, on a camel unless it was an emergency, as it would be unethical, and a larger calibre firearm, described as high powered, is a more suitable calibre firearm type.

(3) The Firearms Act 1973 currently provides for persons to apply for high-calibre firearms, as long as a genuine reason and genuine need is provided.