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New South Wales

Dec 20, 2017

Police fight to keep NSW gun documents secret after Adler debate

NSW public servants are attempting to keep a lid on documents about classification of the Adler A-110 shotgun.

Max Chalmers

Freelance journalist

Bureaucrats would have their ability to offer frank and fearless advice curtailed if police documents relating to the reclassification of the Adler A-110 shotgun were released to the public, a tribunal has heard.

More than a year after Adler’s classification was updated by the Council of Australian Governments, NSW police are fighting to prevent the release of the documents which could embarrass state minister Troy Grant if they reveal that his advocacy for a less restrictive classification was at odds with his department’s advice.

Georgina Gold, the general manager of operations at the NSW Police Force Firearms Registry, was called before a NSW Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal on Tuesday by police lawyers seeking to defeat an application by Greens MP David Shoebridge to release the police memorandums and advice. Also a member of the COAG sub-committee tasked with reviewing the National Firearms Agreement and Adler classification, Gold said it was “human nature” for bureaucrats to be concerned about giving frank advice if they knew it could end up on the front page of a newspaper and cause “difficulties” for the government.

Gold revealed that as the Adler debate first took off in 2015, the sub-committee of state and commonwealth staff working on the issue was subject to a clamp-down by the federal Attorney-General’s office after details from a meeting were leaked to the press. In an attempt to prevent future disclosures, members of the group were given as little as a day to receive and respond to papers being circulated which included subtle but significant proposed changes. The incident was put forward as an example of the damage that releasing information could have on government processes.

Shoebridge, who is representing himself, argued in cross-examination that an illegal leak to the press was not the same as an information request submitted under NSW law. He also noted that jurisdictions including WA, the ACT, and the NT had not objected to releasing the materials requested, though others had.

In a case that hinges on questions of transparency, the state government’s lawyers have so far refused to allow submissions and affidavits before the Tribunal to be publicly released. At the Tuesday hearing, Crown Solicitor Helen Sims foreshadowed that the state would attempt to use cabinet-in-confidence exemptions to quash the release of the documents.

The fight to hold back the briefings and opinions comes after COAG agreed to classify the five-shot version of the Adler as a Category B weapon and the seven-shot version as a Category D weapon in December 2016, effectively ending the long-running political stoush between gun control advocates and shooters in a draw.

NSW Police Minister Troy Grant had publicly called for both versions of the gun to be put in the less-restrictive Category B but an earlier freedom of information request by Shoebridge revealed that NSW Police had advised the Minister of public safety concerns around the Adler A-110 relating to its rapid rate of fire. The police advice was at odds with Grant’s position and compared the Adler to pump action shotguns which are heavily restricted and classified as Category C firearms.

The case will continue in February 2018.

13 comments

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13 thoughts on “Police fight to keep NSW gun documents secret after Adler debate

  1. old greybearded one

    This again? This is an example of Troy Grant as an airhead. The Adler 110 is marketed in Queensland with all manner of Rambo-gun style attachments, making it look like a killing weapon. I will tell you if I had one of these and was so motivated there would be as many dead bodies as it holds shots. I have been a farmer and a shooter. I can see no difference between this weapon and a five shot pump action. In fact the lever action might make it faster to load. An explanation is certainly needed and I cannot imagine how the police would have said yes to what would be a serious threat to them.

    1. Itsarort

      Agreed. And, if the Adler 110 is now a Cat B firearm, then I want my 5-shot Browning semi-auto back please.

  2. AR

    I would have thought that civil servants would be all the prouder to give courageous & uncompromised advice if they knew that it would be in the public domain – if only so they could say “don’t blame us for decisions mad by pusillanimous political poltroons – they were well advised!”.
    In truth re the lever action Adler, it is just so gun nuts can play cowboys – the pump action is surer and less likely to foul.

  3. blindphoton

    And if I was so motivated and took my Toyota Landcruiser for a ride down the Hay Street Mall (Perth CBD) there would be more than 7 people dead.
    Lever action shot guns have been around for years without any problems and and more stringent gun restrictions do not stop criminals from acquiring and using them; after all, they’re criminals.
    Also, law abiding licensed shooters are sick and tired of being vilified as rambo-style rednecks. I’ll say it again, restrictions will not stop criminals.

    1. John Newton

      So… how is it that Australia’s restrictions seem to have stopped any futher mass killings?

      1. AR

        … umm, jus’ guessin’ but maybe we’ve all become so much nicer?
        Nah, didn’t think so – look at the specimens we keep electing.

      2. Richard

        You would appear to be drawing an illogical conclusion.
        There could be many reasons. Given that we are told how easy it is to get hold of banned automatic weapons, I doubt it is for lack of them that no more mass killings have taken place. It will, of course, make things very much more difficult for the opportunistic ‘headline grabber’, thank Ganesh.

        If this be such a good thing, how is it that we have been treated to happy snaps of NSW cops with military hardware “because Australia is at High Alert” … I submit this is a wank with lots of big boys playing with their toys, unable or unwilling to realise that this is the thin end of a wedge.
        Once you give police these things, it is hard to take them away and once they have them, threshold to use is lower.
        Look at the trigger happy display we heard from the Lindt cafe..
        Remember those barrages of shots and fatal ricochets?
        How many men with how many guns were ‘holed up’ there? Remind us… was it one, or two hundred? Look out for a dramatic rise in the need for such weapons to be displayed in public and/or number of public accidentally shot whilst being questioned.
        Also, watch out for stories about our police being trained in ‘crowd control’ over in the ME in gods country, the one that can not be named for risk of moderation.

  4. AR

    Meanwhile in Sydney New Year revellers will bask in the beneficent good will of police armed with machine guns.
    And absolutely guaranteed that none of them are steroid sodden thugs….
    As kommissar Might Mouth Skippy said of his beloved, but never used, water cannon truck – still costing about$20K pa to maintain – for the Rodent’s Ring of Steel for his final international conflab, “that’s how we do business in NSW!”.

  5. John Newton

    Troy Grant’s doing really well – sat on gambling harm report for 2 years.

    1. PeteH

      Yes, but that had the potential to embarrass one of his governments’ best buddies, James Packer, and we all know that if you upset Packer, Alan Jones weighs-in and creates a giant shit-storm because his good friend is being cruelly vilified.

      Grant needs to go, and not just from his Ministry. He needs to leave politics altogether, go open a cafe in Dubbo, where he can’t hurt anyone with his stupid decisions.

  6. CML

    If I had my way, ALL guns would be banned…except for police and military personnel.
    Why on earth would anyone want to ‘import’ the American scenario into our country?
    And this rubbish about guns in the hands of ‘law-abiding’ citizens being safe…don’t criminals steal things and use them for their own purposes?
    If no one has any guns, and there are stricter rules about stopping importation, then that should make life very difficult for said criminals…and much safer for the rest of us!!

    1. Richard

      I think many would take issue with your suggestion it is OK for police to have them.. Although we are not anywhere down the US road, (3600 people shot by police last year of survey, disproportionately coloured) we have passed the thin end of the wedge already.

  7. Richard Shortt

    The ability to see the free and Frank advice, and to contrast it with a decision taken by a minister, is surely one of the cornerstones of a transparent democracy. All the Minister need do, if the decision conflicts with the advice, is provide their well-reasoned explanation of why this divergence occurred. Then the voters can decide if they agree with the minister or not.

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