Firearm Owners Association of Australia
PO Box 346
Minister for Police and Corrective Services
Honorable Russell Cooper MLA
8 June, 1996
You will more than likely receive this letter via the newspapers as this seems to be the medium that you have chosen to communicate with the Firearm Owners and myself. I received your letter to me of the 7th of June courtesy the Courier Mail, Queensland Newspapers.
Your letter saddens me greatly, as I wished to personally see you on a face to face basis and point out that if you wish to retain any dignity whatsoever, you should resign from your position as a Minister of the Crown. It was reported by Hansard, on the 12th April 1994, page 7440, that you stated
“… to regiment gun owners into a permit based or licensed based register. Demonstrably, that attempt has been a dismal failure and the basic thrust of the Act has not been achieved. In roughly rounded figures, 250,000 licences have been issued, yet there are an estimated one million gun owners in Queensland”.
“Responsible, law abiding citizens who have sought and obtained appropriate licences are not the people whom weapon control legislation should be, to use an apt term, aimed at. Clearly hundreds of thousands of guns exist in the community in the possession of unlicensed people.”
How can you, as Minister of Police, be telling the truth then AND now. Were you lying to parliament then or are you lying now? One way or the other, you have lied to Parliament which is sufficient cause for your resignation. Perfidy by a Police Minister destroys public confidence and lowers Police morale. This bad enough but Russell you have compounded it by doing a complete reversal of your electoral policy on which you were elected. A letter from your electorate office, 67 McDowall Street, Roma addressed To The Gun Owner, stated
“I am not of the view that regulation and licensing is the answer.”
“The answer to the increase in violent crime in Australia does not lie in licensing gun owners and imposing unbearable restrictions”
“Licensing restrictions only treat sporting shooters, hunters and land owners as criminals and have no effect whatsoever on the real criminal bent on destruction.”
You would also have to resign from parliament, as the elected representative for Crows Nest you are not representing the wishes of your electorate. You have bunkered down in the concrete citadels. Doubt me if you dare, call a public debate in your electorate, I don’t mind coming and debating it with you in public. Ask the floor what their resolution is, both you and I know what their answer will be Russell.
You would also have to resign from the National Party, your reversal on the National Party platform policy has finished your party as a political force in Queensland. Your dishonour has put them in a position where, even if you back down again and do another 180 degree reversal, it will be to late, only political oblivion awaits the National Party because of your betrayal.
What makes all this sadder for me is that I have admired you as an intelligent human being who seemed to possess what is rare in a politician these days, an independence of mind and a quiet toughness, unlike the pasty faced wimps that usually confront us on the six o clock news. However, after the last few weeks of watching you shame yourself by attempting to plug up your leaking bath by saying that we have it all wrong and that we are extremist and scare mongering, you, as a firearm owner yourself have even spoken at our Firearm Owners Brisbane Branch meetings. You are fully aware that John Howard s Australasian resolutions impact on every firearm owner in this state, even if they only have an air rifle. You have got your copy of the resolutions, I have mine, I don’t think there are two different versions. When these resolutions are explained at public meeting in Gympie, Brisbane, Nambour, Kingaroy, Rockhampton, Cairns, Emerald, the people are horrified at what you are attempting to do.
I honestly will find it impossible to believe anything you ever say again without corroborative evidence or a weight of probability. So it saddens me and leaves me to wonder what sort of country I’m bringing my daughter up in.
Is it necessary for a politician to break promises and be willing to commit any atrocity to further his career in today s Australia? This hypothesis would account for a lot of what you have said in the last few weeks.
Be they evil or not, Ministers are supposed to be answerable to parliament and it should be axiomatic in a constitutional democracy that when a diminution or withdrawal of liberty is proposed, it is incumbent upon those who propose it to justify their case to the parliament.
If we had a state or federal parliament that operated constitutionally, we would have parliamentarians who represented their constituents and not be controlled by the totalitarian coalition of party hierarchy. Then we firearm owners would not be looking into the legislative apocalypse that faces us today. ie. confiscation of our property and the registration of what you decide to leave with us with until next time. Russell you have made no case whatsoever, we firearm owners have been accused, arrested, tried, convicted and persecuted, with no opportunity to say a word in our defence.
You have produced no research, you have failed to demonstrate the existence of a problem requiring legislative correction, you have failed to demonstrate a probable benefit derived from any of the measures proposed and you have indeed stated that you don’t intend to. To be sure we have asked for that proof but the requests have been ignored.
Russell, you now say “but should these people be allowed to own such things” the fact that you own guns that are outlawed in your own white paper speaks loudly of your hypocrisy, and deceit. You used to want to speak at Firearm Owners Association meetings, you used to want to know us when you were a customer of “Owen Guns” and you wanted your semi-automatic rifles repaired. You wanted to know Lock Stock and Barrel when you wanted a quote for us to print a small newspaper for you. What has changed Russell?.
In your invitation on the 3rd of June you regarded the Firearm Owners as a peak stakeholder, on the 7th of June you suggest that we are not a responsible organisation and that our members do not engage in legitimate shooting and related pursuits. Is this another 180 degree change Russell, when can you be loyal to anyone?
Yes, I do agree you are correct in one major part of your letter of the 7th and would have been disappointed if you had considered that I would have thought otherwise. The executive of the Firearm Owners Association and myself and the resolutions of each and every meeting remain intolerant and inflexible and we are not prepared to seek to accommodate any spirit of the resolutions of John Howard s special police ministers conference. In fact the resolutions at every one of our meetings is for our association to accept only the coalition proposals on which you were elected a few short months ago. Don’t you remember your promises, only a licence if we wanted one and a prohibited persons register – instead of the 1990 Weapons Act.
If it is true that your main reason for withdrawing your invitation is that I remain intolerant and inflexible and not prepared to accommodate the spirit of the resolutions, then it would follow that all the major organisations that you meet with are prepared to accommodate those resolutions.
Yes I do agree, that some major organisations such as the SSAA are seriously embarrassed in the on going debate, the SSAA to be investigated by the Criminal Justice Commission for making underhanded deals with Wayne Goss and the Labor party and they are now again ready to seek deals with yourself compromising the rights of their members. Yes, that is embarrassing. The Firearm Owners will never compromise or negotiate with the rights of the firearm owners of this state or any other in Australia, yes that’s what embarrasses them, we are not turncoats. Yes, these associations who have stated to their members that they believe letters from Wayne Goss, are all embarrassed when the labor party betrays them.
Yes, admittedly we do speak up and yes the media, hacks and chops and sticks together what ever story it wishes to present. You of all people know that the media do this. If you had wished to check anything, a full unedited transcript would have been and still is, available to you.
We are appalled at the extremism of what you are attempting to do to our country, our rights and our property. We did check the resolutions of the police minister meeting and did check that you really intended to implement them. You could have given us the benefit of checking the authenticity of the reports before you became appalled about us. It matters little now the die is cast.
If you would prefer to debate this issue with equal conditions and time in Gympie and if you have an explanation as to why your beliefs keep turning around, please let us know what nights you have available within the next few weeks and we will provide a venue and an audience of our members to patiently listen to the next Russell Cooper story.
This was probably the reason that Owen Guns did not get compensated for its stock during the ensuing buy back.