Concerns Queensland safety laws to punish pocket knife users

Eric Barker June 19, 2024

A suite of new crime-related legislation has raised concerns about possible punishment for carrying a pocket knife. Photo: Kent Saddlery

QUEENSLAND farm lobby group AgForce has raised concerns about a suite of new legislation the state government is planning to implement, which could punish people carrying a pocket-knife and add another layer of legislation when buying firearms and ammunition.

Police minister Mark Ryan put forward to bill in May, which would add another series of checks in relation to firearms and increase the maximum penalty for possessing a knife in a public place. A parliamentary inquiry has been taking submissions and is due to report in August. Many people in the bush do not leave home without their pocketknife, used as a daily tool of trade for a million tasks.

The move has been heavily backed by the Qld Police Union who said: “there is no reason anyone should need to carry a knife in a public space and these reforms protect our community from knife violence.”

But in its submission to the inquiry. AgForce argues that is not entirely the case.

“The Bill notes that prohibited items must not be carried in a public place in such a manner as to be seen,” the submission said.

“Many people carry pocket-knives in a pouch on a belt. This is particularly so for those engaged in the business of primary production. A pocket-knife is a tool-of-trade in agriculture, with far reaching applications for their use.

The definition of a public place is so broad that it includes just about everywhere except a private dwelling. Consideration is required as to how this legislation may unintentionally affect the farming community.

Speaking to Beef Central, chief executive officer Michael Guerin said the bill was another example of unintended consequences presented by well-meaning legislation.

The Shooters Union of Qld has also argued that people innocently carrying pocket-knives for work are an unintended consequence of the legislation.

“The definition of a public place is so broad that it encompasses almost every location except private dwellings, leading to potentially unfair penalisation for ordinary activities,” the submission said.

Guns also in the firing line

A set of tightened restrictions on firearms are also on the list of rules that will have unintended consequences for agriculture, according to AgForce.

Part of the legislation is to tighten the “fit and proper person” tests for purchasing firearms and introduce legislation to prohibit firearms for certain individuals, known as firearm prohibition orders.

AgForce said it was important the Government considered the need for using firearms in certain jobs.

“Care must be taken to eliminate the possibility of, and effects of, FPOs having unintended consequences,” the submission said.

“Examples include impacts on an individual’s future employment in fields exposed to firearms, such as agriculture. AgForce is concerned that familial or community relationship to the subject of an FPO will negatively impact law-abiding firearm licence holders in the agricultural industry, those occupations where a firearm is necessary to undertake day-to-day rural operations in caring for the welfare of livestock, both in terms of euthanising distressed livestock and protecting livestock from fear of predation by wild animals.”

It is also proposing an online system to validate firearm licenses when gun owners are buying ammunition. A suggestion AgForce says will make it hard for producers to buy ammunition in rural areas with poor connectivity and who have limited access to firearm dealers.

“What is the point of having a licence if further verification is required?

“In respect to primary producers, many purchase ammunition supplies on a Saturday morning, when they venture into their local town or regional centre. Advice from the Firearm Dealers Network is that Queensland Police often pull the existing server off-line for maintenance on a Saturday morning, meaning that the primary producer will not be able to access their ammunition requirements.

“Similarly, rural and regional areas often experience internet service connections due to outages or failure. During these times, a dealer/retailer will be unable to sell ammunition until internet connection is restored.

“The above-mentioned scenarios will lead to poorer customer service levels for those firearm licence holders that have a distinct purpose to access and use firearms, that is, those who carry out agribusiness occupations, therefore leading to increased frustrations of the Government’s system, to both the customer and the retailer.”


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