Abandoned by The Nationals

20 years ago, the National Party lost a large part of its support base when it backed John Howard on the ban on semi-automatic firearms.  Shooters felt abandoned, and gravitated to  minor parties which emerged, such as One Nation.

They’ve forgotten history can repeat itself.

In recent days you heard about the plight of NSW farmer, David Dunstan, who lost his firearms after stopping an intruder at his property at 3 in the morning.

The intruder was armed with a knife, David with his unloaded 22.  The outcome was that the intruder was arrested and no-one got hurt.

Andrea: Punished for calling the Albury Police

Except that the police returned to David’s property to seize his firearms and suspend his licence.  David has not been charged with any offence and 3 weeks later, he’s still being treated like a criminal by NSW Police.

Not only that, but the NSW Police have banned David’s wife, Andrea, from having firearms on the family property.

Andrea was the one who called the police.  You can’t help but wonder if they would have been better off letting the offender go, so he could terrorise someone else.

Abandoning the Dunstans

On 25th September, Nationals NSW Deputy Premier, John Barilaro visited David’s property where he lent his support for him. The story appeared in the local paper, obviously organised by his office.

It happened a fortnight before byelections in the seats of Murray and Cootamundra which are held by Barilaro’s party, The Nationals.

… I mean, the last thing they would want to see is David getting involved in the byelections, wouldn’t they? ….

Putting the heat on the Nationals

Last Wednesday and with the CFCV’s help and that of our lawyer, Stephen Mainstone, the Dunstans followed up on Barilaro’s offer by sending an email asking him if his government would commit to some basic and simple changes to the Firearms Act to avoid this from happening again.  It also sought his advice on what better laws the government would commit to, to help homeowners defend their own families without fear of being treated this way.

We gave Mr Barilaro until Wednesday 11th October to respond.  However the same day the email was sent, Andrea’s situation emerged.  The CFCV then wrote to Mr Barilaro advising that the deadline for responding was being brought forward – to Sunday 8th October. We weren’t impressed.

No response has been received. The email to Mr Barilaro was an opportunity for the Nationals to get on the front foot and be seen to be doing something ahead of the byelections, but it’s now clear they aren’t going to do that.

The Nationals abandoned the Dunstans despite the massive amount of public interest and outrage this matter has generated.

More from the police

On 5th October (the day after the email was sent to Mr Barilaro), Mr Dunstan received a letter from the registry giving him 21 days to advise why his firearms licence should not be cancelled. Yet he has done nothing wrong and has not been charged with any offence.

Again, the Nationals are nowhere to be seen.

Police Minister Troy Grant, who has done some good work in the past on the NFA front, has gone missing in action.  While the police should be allowed to operate without political interference, their failure to fix the problem shows an appalling lack of judgement and community sentiment on their part.  The Chief Commissioner has to go.

The lack of action on the part of the Police Minister – even if to make public announcements – shows how ineffective the NSW Nationals are.

We understand the separation of powers within government but not the ‘severance of powers’ . The police are accountable to the government, and a good police minister would know that.

A good police minister would make sure his or her agencies served the government, not themselves – and if something is broken, make commitments to fix the problem.

The Nationals could have done this, but didn’t. They’ve allowed the Dunstans’ dilemma to linger on in the expectation they’ll retain the seats of Murray and Cootamundra, even if with reduced margins.

The Liberals don’t want to help firearm owners, so it suits the Nationals to avoid damage to the Coalition by doing nothing and hope they hang onto their seats.

Protecting their position in the coalition – rather than helping the likes of the Dunstans – is their priority.

Don’t expect the Nationals candidates for Murray and Cootamundra to speak up either. No doubt they are good people but if they spoke out against their party lines, their political careers will be short-lived: that’s how politics works.

… but if you do live in Murray or Cootamundra ….

Those of you who will be voting in this weekend’s byelections in:

  • Murray (Balranald, Deneliquin, Griffith, Hay, Moulamein, Wentworth); and
  • Cootamundra (Young, Cootamundra, Gundagai, Temora, Wyalong, West Wyalong, Deneliquin, Griffith, Hay, Moulamein, Wentworth)

hold the key to this.  You are the ones who can send the message which needs to be sent.

There are three things we ask you need to keep in mind when deciding who to vote for:

  1. The Nationals cannot deliver – they’ve shown that;
  2. The Nationals won’t stand up to their coalition partner, the Liberals; and
  3. If you want your family to remain safe at home, the Nationals won’t be there for you. If you do get whacked over the head and the Deputy Premier offers to visit your property, make sure the front gate is locked.

If you are a gun owner, then there’s a fourth one – The Nationals in NSW haven’t learnt their lesson.

Back them, and they’d rather you lose your guns than stand up to the Libs.

Make Murray and Cootamundra marginal

The Nationals will be banking on holding onto Murray and Cootamundra – and probably will.

However their arrogance is why this matter has lived on.  That’s why voters in those electorates need to let them know that putting other interests ahead of people isn’t acceptable.

This Saturday, make Murray and Cootamundra marginal by voting for someone other than the Nationals or Greens.

Then do it again at the next state election.

What you can do in the meantime.  Right now.

We need to let the Premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian, know why her coalition partner is letting her side down. The Libs aren’t affected by the byeletion so if she can help, then let’s send that message now.

Click here to help us do this, by sending her an email (if the link doesn’t work, create an email and use the address: willoughby@parliament.nsw.gov.au).

Here’s the email we suggest:

Dear Ms Berejiklian,

No doubt you are aware of the plight of NSW farmer, David Dunstan.

Mr Dunstan had his firearms seized and firearms licence suspended for doing nothing more than protect his family from a drug affected offender carrying a knife and piece of wood at 3 in the morning.

Your Deputy Premier, John Barilaro visited his property on 25 September and expressed his support for his plight.  The Dunstans followed this up with an email seeking what would have been simple amendments to the Firearms Act to avoid this from reoccurring, and commitments to help homeowners defend themselves. However he hasn’t responded.

The Police Minister has remained silent.  While I appreciate the police have their processes, the absence of action from the government in the face of a massive public reaction reflects badly on the Coalition.

I urge you to contact the Dunstans directly and apologise for the government’s lack of action in this matter.  I also urge you to act on the email the Dunstans sent to the Deputy Premier and make the commitments they seek.

Yours sincerely,


We’d like to also send a huge ‘thank you’ to the Shooters Union who have helped us over the past few days. We’ve got plans to work with them later this week on another idea and no doubt others into the future.

Onya’ Dave!

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