Party calls for 'total overhaul' of NSW Firearms Registry
THE NSW Firearms Registry in Murwillumbah has been "condemned" over several blunders including sending out duplicate gun permits.
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party leader Robert Borsak said an independent review and a "total overhaul of the organisation" was required following a number of mistakes made by the registry, which works on behalf of all NSW.
"The registry is a basket case and nothing short of a full independent inquiry is needed," Mr Borsak said.
He said the registry had recently acknowledged in an email to the Nepean Hunters Club, one of the largest hunting clubs in the country, that it had made an error regarding criminal background checks.
Mr Borsak said the error came after another mistake in March when the registry emailed firearm dealers advising "there may be a small number of licence holders that have received duplicate copies of Permits to Acquire a firearm".
"We're sick to death of the registry's continual stuff-ups, how much more incompetence do we have to put up with?" Mr Borsak said.
"Police Minister David Elliott must support an independent inquiry to get to the bottom of this mess.
"This latest blunder by the registry is simply not good enough."
A damning February report into the registry by NSW Auditor-General Margaret Crawford found junior clerks were making "unsound" decisions and were not subject to adequate oversight, creating an "additional and greater risk to public and police safety".
Some addresses listed by the agency were five years out of date and there were "critical gaps" in information about the locations of guns and owners, which "reduce the registry's ability to take an effective risk-based approach to regulating firearm ownership".
The registry went under review in July last year after Sydney man John Edwards accessed two powerful handguns to murder his two children, despite a history of violence against his family.
In the months before the murders, Edwards was turned away from three gun clubs but there was no procedure in place to alert the NSW Firearms Registry or other clubs about their concerns.
The loophole allowed Edwards to join a different gun club where he stored two handguns before he signed them out in the 24 hours before the murders.
At the time, former Lismore MP Thomas George gave his condolences to the family and said he had contacted the police minister and commissioner, who told him they would be "reorganising the leadership of the gun registry".
The registry had been subject to controversy in the months prior, after a source inside the organisation told The Tweed Daily News that employees were being overworked and there was "a huge backlog of work with hundreds of permit applications sitting around" because "they're not replacing staff that are leaving".
The source said employees were fearful of losing their jobs and were being placed on rolling month-to-month contracts with no guarantees of continued employment.
The NSW Public Service Association later got involved and Mr George declared no jobs would be cut, however acknowledged the Registry would be undergoing structural changes.
In March, a police spokesperson said a new registry commander would bring in a raft of "wide-ranging improvements".
Lismore MP Janelle Saffin did not comment on the state of the Registry but said she would continue to fight for workers at the facility.
"It is the Nationals who need to step up as well and protect jobs in rural and regional areas," she said.
"I was assured by the Parliamentary Secretary that no permanent staff would lose their jobs, and am now seeking assurance for the non-permanent staff as well.
"There are quite a few staff positions that are not permanent and they should be. The work they do is exacting and they need more not less."