If you have a legitimate need for access to firearms including if you are engaged in farming or related activity, close attention needs to be given to the proposed Firearm Prohibition Order which was introduced under the Community Safety Bill that was brought into Queensland Parliament on Wednesday 1 May 2024 by Police Minister Mark Ryan.


It is claimed that the Queensland FPO Model aligns with similar schemes used throughout Australia but the extent to which schemes in other States protect potential miscarriages of justice from occurring with FPOs was not referred to by the Minister in his Introduction Speech.


The new FPO Scheme will allow the Queensland Police Commissioner to make a Firearms Prohibition Order without having to get Court approval for a duration of 60 days if the Commissioner is satisfied it is in the public interest to make the Order.  If a longer duration is necessary the Commissioner may apply to the Court for a further FPO.


The term ‘public interest’ requires close analysis as to the ease with which a Police issued FPO can occur.


The Bill provides that when considering if it is in the public interest to make an FPO the decisionmaker may have regard to:-


  • the individual’s criminal or domestic violence history including whether a person has been subject to a Domestic Violence Order;


  • the individual’s behaviour, particularly violent or aggressive behaviour;


  • whether the individual has communicated to another individual that they intend or wish to commit a serious offence;


  • whether the individual has been subject to an Order under the Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders) Act 2003; and


  • any other matter or information which indicates possession of a firearm by an individual would be likely to pose a risk to public safety or security.


If a person needs access to a firearm for their work by being employed in the rural sector or as a security guard he/she can have a Police FPO Order made against them simply on the basis that they are subject to a Domestic Violence Order.  In that regard many people agree to Domestic Violence Orders without admissions in order to avoid the emotional upset and costs of fighting a Domestic Violence Order and in that regard it is particularly important to note that domestic violence is defined in the relevant law as including coercive control or even emotional or economic abuse.


The Queensland Police can consider an individual’s ‘aggressive behaviour’ in deciding whether to issue an FPO.  Such ‘aggressive behaviour’ does not even have to be the subject of a criminal charge.

An FPO can also be made where an individual has communicated to another individual that they intend or wish to commit a serious offence.  It would be acceptable for an FPO to be laid by a Police Officer if the serious offence involved potential grievous bodily harm or a bank robbery or the like and there is an immediate threat of that event happening.  It can be imagined, however, that particularly in domestic violence cases a person can falsely accuse a spouse or a partner of having made a threat that they intend or wish to commit a serious offence where the allegation is ’word against word’ in the context of a bitter breakup of a relationship.


It is to be noted that the proposed scheme allows a Police Officer delegated by the Police Commissioner to issue an FPO for 60 days.  While a person may appeal the making of the Order, the delay and costs inherent in an Appeal are considerable.


While control of firearms within the community is vital, it is important that unintended consequences that can flow from a Police issued FPO for 60 days before the Police have to go to Court be addressed as a matter of urgency before this Bill is passed by Parliament.


What happens to a farmer who requires access to a firearm for his/her work including dealing with wild animal attacks on stock if the local Police Officer serves him/her with an FPO.


Imagine the scenario of a helicopter pilot whose job it is in rural areas to cull wild animals from the air if that person can lose their livelihood immediately a Police Officer issues an FPO without the matter first having to go to Court.


The FPO proposal should be changed to require the Police to get a Court Order before an FPO can be issued particularly in relation to people whose occupations are at risk if they are no longer able to access firearms.