Lisa Neville: Help us get a better police minister

LAST WEEK, the Victorian upper house voted down amendments to new firearm laws which are open to being misused against licensed shooters.

In this blog, we explain what we did to try and stop it, who betrayed us, and why the minister needs to go.

Our concern revolved around claims by the government that the laws, which introduce ‘firearm prohibition orders’ (FPOs) were modelled on similar laws in NSW aimed at criminals and bikie gangs.

The laws introduced to parliament had no such qualification, and could be applied to anyone – even if they have no interest in firearms.

It means the FPOs will be able to be issued by a wide range of officer and bureaucrats in Victoria Police down to specified superintendent level.  They can be applied for virtually any reason relating to a person’s ‘behaviour’, and lasts 10 years.

Having a FPO issued on you means you are not only banned from using firearms, but from going anywhere they are stored, even if that is the house of a family member.   Do that, and you could go to jail for a year.  It’s a massive constraint on individual liberties – all because of some unspecified ‘behaviour’.

On 8 February, Police Minister, Lisa Neville, told parliament:

But let us be in no doubt: the FPOs are absolutely focused on organised criminals. There is no doubt about that. This is not about legitimate shooters or licensed firearm dealers. It is not focused on them at all.

 You have got your bikies, you have got your Middle Eastern crime groups and you have got your persons of interest, particularly those in relation to terrorism. They are the people that are the focus of this bill— the main provisions around the firearm prohibition orders (FPOs), which is subject to one of the amendments that the government has accepted here. Those firearm prohibition orders are absolutely critical for us to ensure that Victoria Police is able to continue to disrupt the activities of organised crime in our community and disrupt and reduce the harm that organised crime is causing.

Yes, there is doubt.

That’s because the law does not say it is “absolutely focussed on organised criminals”.  Nowhere does it say that.

FPOs can be slapped on anyone, with or without a criminal history, or association.  Anyone reading this blog.

Lobbying by the CFCV

The government did not take the Bill through the Firearms Consultative Committee, even though it was set up for that purpose.  The first we knew about these laws was when they were introduced into parliament last September.

We immediately start speaking with the opposition and cross-benchers, to seek their support for changes to reduce the risk of these laws being misused.   Don’t get us wrong: we’re happy for the government to have the laws it needs to target criminals, drive-by shootings and bikie gangs – but the laws need to say that.

Through this process, we secured the support of the Liberals who moved three amendments to address those concerns.  While the Liberals’ amendments were less than we were hoping, they were ones we were happy with – and openly supported.

This solution they came up with was to reduce the degree of delegation of the Chief Commissioner’s power, add appeal rights and limit the duration of an order to 5 years.

The Age

On 1 February, The Age ran an editorial where it repeated the Minister’s claims that the laws focussed on criminal activities.  Not only that but said,“are exactly the kind of offenders the legislation is aimed at” and that the amendments “coincide neatly with what the gun lobby wants, as the Firearms Council has stated.”

We responded to the claim, but the paper failed to print our responses. It is correct to say we supported the amendments, but the insinuation is that the “Firearms Council” somehow supports the people who raided O’Reilly’s.

The Age is saying that if you’re a gun owner, you’re probably onside with criminals.

The parliamentary vote

One of those who provided early in-principle support for the amendments we were seeking was Vote 1 Local Jobs MP, James Purcell.

However, that support later vanished. Why it vanished isn’t clear, but when the amendments went to the vote, James backed the government.

This meant the vote on each amendment was locked at 20-20, which meant they were defeated.

Had he voted for the amendments (21-19), they would have gotten up, and law-abiding shooters would be safer.  However, he didn’t. The reason your freedom from persecution is now at risk is because of his vote.

The reason we are singling James out isn’t just because he’s a cross-bencher who voted with the government.  It’s because he got elected with the support of the shooting community and late last year said he owed us a favour.  We’ll explain more in our next blog on this topic, in a couple of days’ time.   

Repetition is insanity.  Repetition is insanity.

The government took extreme exception to the opposition’s amendments because they knew we had the numbers. They delayed the vote until early February, which is when we can only speculate that James changed his vote.

Prior to, and after the vote, Lisa Neville issued three media releases, the titles of which are:

  • Mobster Lobster’s Mate Tries To Water Down Organised Crime Laws (30/11/17)
  • Mobster’s Mate Ignores Police To Water Down Gun Laws (6/2/18)
  • Mobster’s Mate Tries To Water Down Gun Laws And Fails (7/2/18)

That’s schoolyard jibes, at best.  It’s not how the public expects a minister to behave.

Below are some excerpts from those releases: 

  • “Matthew Guy has been caught eating lobsters with alleged mobsters and now he’s doing their bidding in the Parliament.”
  • Matthew Guy’s amendments show he is in the pocket of organised crime.
  • Not content with eating lobsters with alleged mobsters, Matthew Guy now wants to limit police powers that directly target organised crime.
  • It’s clear that Matthew Guy is more concerned with protecting the rights of criminals than keeping Victorians safe.
  • The only people to benefit from the Liberal Party’s changes are organised crime figures who cause significant harm in our community.
  • Not content with eating lobsters with alleged mobsters, Liberal Leader Matthew Guy is now trying to water down laws that directly target organised crime to stop the harm they cause in our state.
  • The Andrews Labor Government has announced it will not weaken the Firearm Prohibition Order Scheme and won’t accept any of the Liberal Party amendments to the Firearms Amendment Bill, which disgracefully seek to support organised crime figures over victims.
  • The Liberal party amendments do nothing except only weaken the ability of Victoria Police to target organised crime gangs who use firearms.
  • The Mobster’s mate Matthew Guy and the Liberals have failed in their disgraceful attempt to water down and weaken the Andrews Labor Government’s Firearm Prohibition Orders, which are designed to target serious and organised crime.
  • In what proves once and for all that Matthew Guy is in the pocket of organised crime …
  • In a win for community safety and a blow against organised crime, Matthew Guy’s dangerous amendments were defeated.
  • These tough new firearm laws are what Victoria Police need and will be delivered by the Labor Government.
  • They have been described as a game changer when it comes to fighting organised crime and have always been about targeting those who seek to use or acquire illegal firearms and cause harm.
  • The only people who would have benefited from the Liberal Party’s changes are organised crime figures.
  • The Liberal Party’s amendments to the Bill clearly prove that Matthew Guy is more concerned with protecting the civil liberties of his mobster mates than community safety.”
  • “Matthew Guy has shown once and for all that he is on the side of organised crime – not Victoria Police or victims of crime.”
  • “While Matthew Guy stands up for criminals, we will get on with delivering the laws that Victoria Police need to keep our state safe.”

Ok, ok, ok, minister, we get it.  You’re telling us what you think about someone you don’t like and a fancy lunch.  However, you’re not addressing the questions we have about the legislation you are putting up.

In contrast, the opposition stuck to the facts.  For their help, we are grateful to the opposition, in particular Edward O’Donohue and Gordon Rich-Phillips.

Kudos also goes to cross-benchers Fiona Patten for her magnificent contribution in the debate, Jeff Bourman for his amendment on advertising firearms and Rachel Carling-Jenkins for her support for the amendments.

Not one acknowledgment of legitimate shooters’ concerns

The other curious thing about the Minister’s public attacks, is that not once did she acknowledge the concerns of the shooting community, or ourselves.

This was presumably a ploy to avoid attacking shooters ahead of a state election.

However, she has already done enormous damage to the shooting community it cannot ignore.

If Ms Neville retains her portfolio

As we previously posted, our VCAT action uncovered more gun laws a Labor government has committed itself to bringing in after the election – certainly with Neville as our police minister.

If we want to make sure we can continue hunting, target shooting and collecting collectables, then she has to go.

Our Premier

The Premier, Daniel Andrews, has also been anything other than quiet on this matter.  In early February, he sent the following tweets (on Twitter):

  • I reckon the Liberals need to start putting the interests of ordinary Victorians ahead of the interests of organised #springst
  • This is just a short note to let you know that when Parliament meets today, we won’t be weakening this legislation – no ifs, no buts, no way. This is about getting illegal guns off our streets and out of the hands of organised crime. So we won’t be negotiating. #springst
  • That’s why I’m so disappointed that Matthew Guy and the Liberals want to weaken our legislation to keep illegal guns out of the hands of the worst criminals. I don’t know why the Liberals want to make changes that that would let criminals access guns sooner and easier. #springst
  • One thing I like most about politics in this country is that there is very clear, cross-party support for gun control. When it comes to guns, we’re certainly not like the USA and we never should be. #springst

On 8th of February, the Premier told Parliament:

  • If only second chances mattered, eh? I will just say to the shadow Attorney-General, the member for Hawthorn: was it you that drafted the amendments to gut the firearms bill? Speaking of supporting the chief commissioner, doing every deal they could do, crawling over broken glass to try and gut the firearms bill, and then he comes in here questioning this government’s record on support for police command.

Gut the firearms bill”?  Give us a break; the amendments were about ensuring there were rights of appeal, delegation which was consistent with the serious impact an order can have on a person’s life.

As one of our executive said in the writing of this blog, this is an election year where point scoring is everything.  The problem we have is that putting a spin on crime, using firearms as the topic, resonates with the general public.

What can we do about it?

If you’re sick of the attacks on shooters, the why not join our email list? We’ll keep you updated on what’s happening in the political world of shooting, and provide you with advice on how to vote to protect what you love to do at this year’s state election.

Click here to join it now – you can opt out at anytime.

Our next blog on this topic will be a closer look at the vote Mr Purcell cast.  There’s an important history with him that every shooter in the Portland, Port Fairy and Warrnambool area needs to know about.

  1. Mr Purcell (Vote 1 Local Jobs) … happily voted with the Government to severely limit fully compliant Domestic Animal Businesses. Limit businesses and cost vulnerable staff their employment as they wind back. Seems he doesn’t really care as much for jobs as implied.

  2. Russell Bate OAM

    James Purcell is a disappointment. In the many conversations I had with him prior to his election he did strike me as someone whose word could be trusted and who would appreciate the support of the shooting community – support he was seeking.

    His about face on what I understand was an earlier undertaking to support the sensible amendments that were proposed will be difficult to understand and to accept for many of his previous supporters.

    It would be wise for James and indeed all politicians to remember the trust is a currency you can only spend once.

    On the basis of the above it would seem that James’ purse is now empty.

  3. Neil Jenkins, thanks for the article post.Really thank you! Great.

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